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Williams the Matchmaker of Kiwi imports - Richard Edmunds TDN AusNZ

The honour roll of purchases from New Zealand by Andrew Williams Bloodstock features the exceptional eight-time Group 1 winner Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed {NZ}) and this season’s G2 Golden Pendant winner Subpoenaed (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle {Ire}), and now its newest member is Matchmaker (NZ) (Makfi {GB}).


Saturday’s G3 China Horse Club PJ Bell S. win by Matchmaker at Randwick continued a special season of stakes successes for trans-Tasman bloodstock agent Andrew Williams.


Ridden by James McDonald for champion trainer Chris Waller, the talented 3-year-old charged to the lead at the 200-metre mark of Saturday’s $200,000 sprint for fillies, withstanding the late challenge of Marboosha (Dream Ahead {USA}) to win by a half-head.


“She’s from the South Island in New Zealand,” Waller said after the race. “She did a good job over there, winning her first start and picking up some black type. Now, to come to the big stage here at Royal Randwick and winning on Doncaster Day, it’s pretty special.


“The confidence she’ll take out of it is good, and naturally you’d expect her to get out over a little bit further as well. So I think she’ll be a nice 4-year-old next season.”


The PJ Bell S. was Matchmaker’s third start in Sydney, having previously finished second on the Kensington track on March 10 and a close seventh in the Listed Darby Munro S. two weeks later.

Williams privately bought into the filly last spring on behalf of his client Manoj Wanzare, who also part-owns Verry Elleegant and Subpoenaed.


“The win yesterday (Saturday) was an absolutely fantastic result,” Williams told TDN AusNZ on Sunday. “Following on from what Verry Elleegant and Subpoenaed have done, it’s amazing to have three girls that we’ve purchased from New Zealand come over to Australia and perform up to stakes level the way they all have this season.


“Chris Waller believes there’s still more improvement to come from this filly, and you always have to take anything he says with a bit of excitement.

“It was a terrific thrill to get the win yesterday (Saturday). Bringing a 3-year-old filly over from the South Island of New Zealand and winning a Group race over 1200 metres during the autumn carnival at Randwick is a remarkable achievement.


“We had originally been thinking she might be more of a Brisbane filly, but she’s really taken that next step. Whenever you bring a horse over, you’re never quite sure whether they’re going to do that, and you just hope that they can. She’s done a terrific job.”


Matchmaker was bred by Gus and Bianca Wigley, the owners of historic Inglewood Stud in North Canterbury. The Wigleys paid $28,000 to buy Matchmaker’s dam, the Fastnet Rock mare Love Somebody, at the 2015 Inglis Great Southern Weanling & Bloodstock Sale.


Matchmaker (navy & gold silks)


“I had been looking for mares and saw her in the catalogue. She was in foal to Toorak Toff and appealed to me on pedigree. I got Regan Donnison go and look at her and send me some photos, and bought her,” Gus Wigley said.


“It’s funny really, we’ve bought some quite expensive mares and a lot around that NZ$30,000 to NZ$40,000 range and we’ve gone better with the cheaper ones.”


Love Somebody has a Zacinto (GB) colt currently being broken in at Inglewood Stud and delivered a son of War Decree (USA) last year.


“The mare is empty and she’ll most likely go to Australia next season. I’m not 100 per cent sure where yet, but she’ll go to a proven sire,” Wigley said.


Originally raced by the Wigleys and trained by Gus Wigley’s father Nick in partnership with Kayla Milnes, Matchmaker began her career with a 3l victory at Riccarton in late July.


"We did have offers to buy her outright, but it’s always been a dream of mine to win the G1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas," Wigley said.


“I mentioned that to Andy and he came up with the scenario to leave her here for the Guineas and then send her over to Chris.


“It was good and she won the Listed Canterbury Belle S. and she had no luck at her next start when she had her heels clipped when the horse behind her fell, she did well to run third.


“She was terribly shin sore after pulling up last in the 1000 Guineas. She had five weeks in the paddock and then went over to the master trainer and he’s done wonders with her."


Williams said he and Wanzare had been impressed with the start Matchmaker had made to her New Zealand career.


“I’ve got a brilliant client and mate in Manoj, and we’re always talking and bouncing ideas off each other about the horses that catch our eye – including some over in New Zealand.


“We both noticed what this filly had done in her first couple of starts in the South Island in July and August.


“I’d previously arranged for him to buy into Verry Elleegant and Subpoenaed, and when it came to this girl, I told him, ‘I’m happy to do it again for you, but this time I want a bit of equity in her as well.’ That just makes what she did yesterday even more exciting.”

Honouring the Wigleys’ wish

The Wigleys retained a share in Matchmaker, and before the filly could head across the Tasman to join the Waller stable, the family had one big wish.


“The really cool thing about this filly is that Gus and Bianca Wigley at Inglewood, who bred her and raced her at the start of her career, were very keen to keep a piece of her,” Williams said. “We always love to have the original owners of horses stay involved.


“After we noticed what Matchmaker did in her first couple of starts, I rang Gus and just quizzed him a bit about things like her size and weight, and what their internal thoughts might be about her ability levels, and also what they were planning to do with her.


“The Wigley family are steeped in tradition in South Island racing. They raced the outstanding southern filly Canterbury Belle in the 1980s, so it was a big thing for them to win the Canterbury Belle S., the race named in her honour with Matchmaker back in October, it meant a lot for the whole family.


“We were delighted to be able to sign up and come along for the ride during her 3-year-old spring campaign in New Zealand, then we brought her across the Tasman to get amongst it in Australia in this preparation.


“The Canterbury Belle S. and PJ Bell S. is an unusual double for a 3-year-old filly, and it’s been great to be able to share that with the Wigley family.


“They’ve still got Matchmaker’s dam, and they’ve got some great pedigree updates for the family, including a three-quarter sister that they’re about to sell this week. So I texted Gus yesterday to congratulate him, and I told him I hoped he was having plenty of Canterbury Draughts!”


A multiple placegetter at the ages of two and three in Australia, Love Somebody is the dam of three winners from three named foals. Between them, Matchmaker’s older siblings Dellacqua (Toorak Toff) and Toff Love (Toorak Toff) have won 11 races in Australia.


“Matchmaker was my favourite filly of her crop. She was a real stand-out but had a cyst on her stifle as a yearling so we didn’t send her to Karaka and decided to race her. It’s quite funny how these things work out sometimes," Wigley said.