The Israeli thoroughbred industry isn’t very big – not by a long shot.
You’d be hard pressed finding out what won the last at Nazareth on Saturday arvo and it appears that the first Israeli bred horse to race in England – Vanilla Bally – finished with the cap catchers in three outings at Wolverhampton, Chepstow and Yarmouth back in 2009.
But as Gilad Ram from the Israeli Jockey Club points out, the country did proudly stand a relation to international star, Black Caviar.
Trainer and founder of the Geva Stables, Gilad was closely associated with Nijinsky’s Secret, a smart 2YO who would later produce a host of winners before passing from this mortal coil five years ago.
Turns out that Nijinsky’s Secret (above) is out of the Blakeney mare Secret Journey, the year older half sister to the Danish bred, Love Song.
Now, while both Secret Journey and Love Song were both placed in Britain, the latter would be imported to Australia by David Hains in the early 80s.
Love Song would produce Song of Norway who, in turn, would produce the blue hen, Scandinavia.
Among Scandinavia’s progeny is the Group One winner and leading Victorian first season sire, Magnus, and a mare by the name of Helsinge … the dam of Black Caviar.
On the other hand, Secret Journey’s ‘journey’ is not quite a well documented – we do know that she produced a colt by a stallion called Dronacharya in 1990 … Nijinsky’s Secret.
Now, before you start thinking we’re drawing too long a long bow, Dronacharya is by Nijinsky, just as Black Caviar’s sire – Bel Esprit – is a grandson of Nijinsky.
“Racing in Israel is only amateur … number are relatively small,” Gilad revealed. “Dronacharya stood in Israel and produced some very nice fillies and mares but Nijinsky’s Secret was his best colt. Nijinsky’s Secret won three from four as a 2YO, winning the Israeli version of the Grand Criterium (over seven furlongs on dirt) and was named Champion 2YO.
“Nijinsky’s Secret had 33% stakes winners to runners, but had to do it the hard way. Broodmare owners over here prefer to breed from imported stallions.”
A driving force behind his country’s thoroughbred industry, Gilad has been closely involved in negotiations at governmental level to win support for the creation of professional horse racing in Israel.
Studying abroad at the racing stables of John Oxx in Ireland and Karl Burke in England, Gilad also runs certificated courses teaching future trainers, jockeys and breeders.
Interestingly, the stud groom for Nijinsky’s Secret was Israeli born, Talia Maor, who moved to Australia and became a jockey, riding a number of winners for Fred Kersley in Perth before marrying Melbourne Racing Club’s Racing & Media Executive Josh Rodder and shifting east.
Talia (pictured below with Nijinsky’s Secret) has ridden 30 winners this season.