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On January 27 2003 New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing's website carried a small story on Bonecrusher's breeder Bill Punch.

Here is that story.

Te Kuiti sheep and beef farmer Bill Punch may describe himself as a racing fanatic, but results on the racetrack are proof that there has been no madness in the methods employed in his thoroughbred breeding activities over the past two decades.

One horse, the Australasian champion of his time in the mid-1980s Bonecrusher (NZ) (Pag-Asa),cemented Punch’s name in thoroughbred breeding history. He presented the big chestnut at a Hamilton yearling sale in 1984 and went home $3250 "richer" after pedigree analyst Harold Hampton convinced fellow Aucklander Peter Mitchell to buy him.

Saturday’s Lion Brown Wellington Cup winner Oarsman (NZ) (The Son) may never be elevated to champion status, nor is it likely that he will match Bonecrusher’s nine Group One victories. But like his illustrious forebear, Oarsman is a fine example of Punch’s approach to breeding.

"I bred him for a bit of fun," he recalled after the horse he didn’t even try to sell won on Saturday. "I sent Virginia Lake to The Son to duplicate Alycidon, which I was able to do twice through the mare’s sire Royal Loch, through another sire on that side, Bold Edge, as well as through The Son’s damsire Gate Keeper and through Meld, the dam of Noble Bijou, who was the sire of The Son."

Alycidon, who made his greatest mark in New Zealand as sire of the great Trelawney Stud stallion Alcimedes, was the champion stayer of his time in England when his 11 wins included the Stayers’ Triple Crown of the Ascot, Goodwood and Doncaster Cups. No-one could deny that with Oarsman, Punch has scored a bull’s-eye through his plan to breed a horse in that mould.

The Son, bred as his name suggests by Southland’s Dennis brothers, stands at Paul and Carol Nelson’s Air Hill Stud in Hawke’s Bay. Punch left Virginia Lake, a descendant of his late father’s breed, empty for several years after she produced Oarsman, but now has her back in foal to The Son.

There is a more upmarket side to Punch’s breeding activities, encompassing mares related to Bonecrusher. They have more value since that horse’s deeds and this is no one-horse strain.

Bonecrusher’s dam Imitation produced two other stakes winners, a full brother Counterfeit (NZ), who won at listed level in Melbourne and finished fourth in the VRC Derby, and a Zabeel half-sister Fragile Asset (NZ), the winner of the Group Three Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings. Another daughter, Endless Joy (NZ) (Centaine), missed a Group One win when narrowly beaten in the Thorndon Mile at Trentham.

Tonight at Karaka Endless Joy’s Cape Cross colt has the potential to cap a memorable weekend for Bill and Bev Punch when, as Lot 70, he goes under the hammer in the opening session of the National Yearling Sales. "The market will decide his value," says Punch, who sold a Gold Brose-Fragile Asset filly for $200,000 last year.

"The main thing we’ve found is not so much the money but where they end up. With Bonecrusher it turned out great because the Mitchells and the Ritchies kept us right up with the play and made us feel like we were still a part of the horse."

Updated on 05 Oct 2007

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