Nimalee confirmed for Inglis Chairman’s

After Nimalee (So You Think {NZ}) was announced as the latest exciting addition to this year’s Inglis Chairman’s Sale, TDN AusNZ caught up with Brett Howard, one of those closest to the brilliant mare.

A sensational winner of last year’s G1 Queen of the Turf S., Nimalee will head into the ring at Riverside on May 4 under the banner of Brett and Rachael Howard’s Glenesk Thoroughbreds.

Brett Howard, who also runs Randwick Bloodstock Agency (FBAA) with his wife, has been part of Nimalee’s journey for a long time, having purchased her as a yearling for $270,000 at the 2018 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale.

Securing her there on behalf of his long-term clients Lester and Margaret Durney, he has helped to manage her career under the stewardship of Warwick Farm trainer Matthew Smith.

“I’ve worked with Lester and Margaret for 30 years, they’ve been very loyal clients and supporters,” Howard told TDN AusNZ.

In aiding their purchase of Nimalee, Howard steered the Durneys into three years of racing with a horse who provided some great joy, “a talented mare (who) took Margaret and I (sic) and our whole family on such an exceptional ride,” as Lester Durney described it.

Connections of Nimalee after her G1 Queen of the Turf win | Image courtesy of Ashlea Brennan

Journey to the top

It started with Nimalee winning four of her first six starts, before she progressed through the ranks and took home her first stakes race in 2021 when she beat Greysful Glamour (Stratum) in the G2 Emancipation S.

Finishing top four in a further five Group races, when Nimalee got her Group 1 it was hard-earned. She did it in decisive fashion too, leaving Annavisto (NZ) (Reliable Man {GB}) over 2l behind in the Queen of the Turf, with Icebath (NZ) (Sacred Falls {NZ}) back in third.

“She’s been ultra-consistent throughout her career and was arguably unlucky not to have won sooner than she did,” enthused Howard. “With the benefit of hindsight who knows what she could have gone on to do.

“She’s (Nimalee) been ultra-consistent throughout her career… With the benefit of hindsight who knows what she could have gone on to do.” – Brett Howard

“She certainly didn’t look like she was coming to the end of her career, there looked like there was plenty left to give.”

After that well-deserved Group 1 win, Howard said the great shame is that it was the timing rather than the severity of the injury which put paid to Nimalee’s career late last year.

“She was primed to run a really big race in the Empire Rose there last November and that was going to be her grand final, basically. But she had to be scratched within 24 hours of the race because there was a minor swelling in her tendon and that was the end of her career.

“She wouldn’t have got back to the races until middle of the year at which time then she’d take a few runs to get fit and then the breeding season’s upon us and now she’s seven years old so it was the right decision by Lester and Margaret to retire her.”

However, having maintained her form in top races after her Queen of the Turf victory, winning the G2 Golden Pendant along the way, Nimalee had certainly shown no signs of stopping when that’s exactly what was enforced on her.

“I was talking to Matthew recently and we both agreed there’s some unfinished business there; something was left on the table, she still had some good wins left in her for sure,” revealed Howard.

A world-class family

Bred at Bruce Neill’s Cressfield, Nimalee is by Coolmore’s champion So You Think (NZ) and out of Dezign, an unraced Zabeel (NZ) mare from an incredible family.

“Some people might say it’s one of the best families in the world,” noted Howard. “It goes back to Nashwan and Nayef and Baaeed, even Deep Impact, they’re all under Highclare who’s her fourth dam.”

“Some people might say it’s (Nimalee’s) one of the best families in the world. It goes back to Nashwan and Nayef and Baaeed, even Deep Impact, they’re all under Highclare who’s her fourth dam.” – Brett Howard

A multiple-Group 1 winner in Europe in the 1970s, Highclere (GB) (Queen’s Hussar {GB}) is responsible for far more than those four champions. She’s truly a legendary producer, and the stakes-winning trend has continued into Nimalee’s closer relatives, with her second dam being the multiple-Group 2 winner Elegant Fashion (Danewin), who in turn produced the Group 3 winner Star Fashion (Street Cry {Ire}).

“She’s a very good-looking mare, she’s got a great pedigree, and no doubt she should sell very, very well,” Howard concluded.

Turning to her prospects as a broodmare, Howard made the point that successful sires tend to make successful broodmare sires, and that puts the relatively young So You Think very much in that category.

Nimalee as a yearling | Image courtesy of Inglis

“He’s such a good sire, I’d be shocked to see if he didn’t turn out to be a top three or four broodmare sire within the next five or six years,” he said.

“He’s a very versatile sire. So You Think’s been able to get sprinters/milers like her and Peltzer and obviously able to get middle distance and staying types as well.”

He may be young in broodmare sire terms, but So You Think has already played his part in one particularly successful mating – and it’s one that Nimalee’s next owner may well pay attention to.

Being by So You Think and out of a Zabeel mare, Nimalee is bred on the same cross as Mull Over, the dam of last season’s Champion 2-Year-Old and G1 Golden Slipper winner Fireburn (Rebel Dane).

With Rebel Dane relocating to Widden Stud ahead of last year’s breeding season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them amongst the interested parties at Riverside on May 4.

Copy: Thoroughbred Daily News Aus NZ

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