Gerry Harvey Conatus Winner's Phar Lap Connection

Brian Russell - Bloodstock Media Service - 2 June 2009

PHAR LAP, the gelding described in a review in 1930, the year of his greatest Australian triumphs, as an ordinary looking horse but a phenomenal racing machine, had two sisters who left lasting legacies, Fortune’s Wheel and Raphis. Fortune’s Wheel, is ancestress of a female Phar Lap, the recently deceased three times Australian Horse of the Year Sunline, and quite a few other good gallopers, but by far the strongest branch has been Raphis, the one that provided the Gerry Harvey (Baramul Stud, Widden Valley) bred and owned Conatus 3-year-old filly Miss Campbell, a runner in the Les Bridge stables who won a maiden at Canterbury last week.

Raphis is eight generations back in Miss Campbell’s breeding, but there has been a steady stream of good performers descending from her. To start with Miss Campbell is one of four winners from Arrest, a Marauding mare who at two won in Sydney, finished third in the ACT Black Opal Stakes and fourth in the STC Magic Night Stakes.

Arrest’s half-sister Confer, a daughter of Conatus’s sire Danehill, never won a race but was second in the STC Magic Night Stakes and Sweet Embrace Stakes, third in the AJC Flight Stakes and VRC Wakeful Stakes and fourth in the VRC Victoria Oaks.

Their dam, the Luskin Star mare Shackle, won three stakes, including the MRC Tranquil Star Stakes, finished second in the Oaks in Melbourne and Adelaide and was from the Showdown STC Storm Queen Stakes winner Impede.

Impede’s half-sister Lady Simone produced the dynamic Todman 2-year-old Blazing Saddles and another half-sister was the dam of the 1984 Australian Horse of the Year Research. A daughter of the Sir Ivor sire Imperial Prince, Research beat the males in the AJC Derby and also won the AJC and VRC Oaks.

The bottom line traces back to the best race filly out of Raphis, the GN Oaks winner and New Zealand Oaks and St Leger second Swingalong. She was a sister to AJC Metropolitan Handicap winner Count Cyrano and a half-sister to Bobalong, the dam of the 1950s champion Monte Carlo, winner of 12 races, including the AJC and VRC Derbys, AJC Metropolitan and St Leger and second with 60.0kgs in the 1958 Melbourne Cup.

Lilting, a grandaughter of Bobalong, produced Planet Kingdom, a runner up in the AJC Derby, All-Aged Stakes and QTC Grand Prix and a top sire, and Fairy Walk, winner of the Golden Slipper, second in the AJC and VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes and third in the MRC Blue Diamond Stakes.

Fairy Walk became the dam of Cheyne Walk (won the AJC Australasian Champion Stakes, QTC Queensland Derby and BTC Doomben Cup), Jubilee Walk (AJC Flight Stakes) and Sharp Walk (second in the Blue Diamond Stakes).

Elegant Walk, an unraced sister to Cheyne Walk, produced Boardwalk Angel, a winner of nine races including the Group 1 SAJC Goodwood Handicap. She became dam of Coogee Walk, a Success Express filly who won the Group 1 Railway Handicap in New Zealand, finished third in the Galaxy at Randwick and then produced Activation, a Zabeel gelding who won three stakes up to Group 3 and in the spring of 2006 finished second in the AJC Metropolitan, fourth in the Caulfield Cup and eighth in the Melbourne Cup.

Conatus, the sire of Miss Campbell, the latest winner from the Raphis family, was bred by Gerry Harvey and raced by him in a group of owners. He did not get much of an opportunity to live up to his superb breeding, Danehill over Light Up The World, an AJC Challenge Stakes winner from Christmas Spirit, a daughter of Bletchingly and Joy and Fun, a Showdown mare out of the famous Denise’s Joy, but still won four sprint races.

Following a 2.5 lengths trial win, he won his first two outings in eye-opening style, a debut success over 1100m at Randwick by 3.3 lengths and in class record time and then three weeks later scored by 1.5 lengths time at the same distance at Gosford.

In the other two wins he covered the 1000m in 0:57.48 in winning by 1.8 lengths at Warwick Farm and registered new class record time in winning a 1400m event by 4.0 lengths on the Newcastle Cup program.

When Conatus was retired after 13 starts, Gerry Harvey arranged for him to stand at Heather Pascoe’s quality young Plaintree Farms stud near Toowoomba in Queensland. He sends mares to Conatus each year and besides Miss Campbell has bred and raced Princess Conny (a winner and second Gosford), Punjab (won Wyong) and Demetria (second at Randwick and Hawkesbury).

Other winners by Conatus, the oldest of which are three, includes Gag Order (a winner at Doomben, Caloundra and the Gold Coast) and Tuscon Rain (successful at the Gold Coast and second at Doomben at two). He has approximately 60 potential runners in his first crop and 70 in his second, so it wont be surprising if there are many more winners in the near future.

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When one is on horseback he knows all things.

—George Herbert