The decision to relocate Vespa to his birthplace Valachi Downs for the 2020 breeding season is based in both economics and sentiment.
The Group 1-winning Champion 2YO has made a strong start to his stud career at Wellfield Lodge, with Group 1 performer Kelly Renee and the stakes-placed Piaggio featuring among a small handful of first-crop progeny.
Being based in the Waikato region will give Vespa access to the larger broodmare pool, allowing him the opportunity to build on his promising start.
But for Valachi owner Kevin Hickman and the team, Vespa’s homecoming carries extra special significance.
“Vespa is a horse who has always been close to Kevin’s heart throughout his racing career and now as a stallion,” Valachi Downs general manager Gareth Downey said.
“In conjunction with Wellfield and all the shareholders in Vespa, Kevin has been such a strong supporter of him throughout his stallion career to date.
“The first crop of Vespa have made an excellent start to their careers, and there continues to be so much positive feedback from trainers who have his progeny, so we are very excited about his future prospects.
“Having Vespa ‘return home’ will enable Kevin to be an even stronger supporter of him in our mating plans going forward.
“It was such a special moment to see Vespa walk off the Valachi truck and into his box in our stallion area. It was then so poignant when Kevin came and visited us soon afterwards, just to see the obvious pride he has in ‘his boy’.”
By Elusive City out of the Fantastic Light mare Miss Avalon, Vespa was bred by Kevin Hickman and was sold through Valachi’s draft at the 2013 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale.
He became a leading flagbearer for the fledgling farm, winning seven races and more than $900,000 in stakes.
As a two-year-old he won the Group 1 Diamond Stakes and the rich Karaka Million, and then he carried on at three with victories in the Group 2 Wellington Guineas, the Listed (now Group 3) Northland Breeders’ Stakes and the Listed Flying Handicap. He was also beaten by a mere head when second in the Group 1 Easter Handicap against older horses.
Vespa returned as a four-year-old and again performed with credit at the highest level, finishing second in the Group 1 NRM Sprint and within three lengths of the winner when fifth in the Makfi Challenge Stakes and Telegraph.
Vespa will stand at Valachi Downs in 2020 for a service fee of $5,000 + GST.