Happier time for Smithies family

Verdi adding to a successful day for the Smithies family at Te Rapa last Saturday.

Verdi (nearest camera) starting a successful day for the Smithies family at Te Rapa last Saturday when winning the Hamilton Taxis 2100 in the hands of Michael Coleman.

Emotion surrounded a winning double for the Smithies family at Te Rapa.

Racing under the family’s Monovale Holdings banner, Verdi and Clarify cemented their staying credentials with wins over 2100 metres with just over an hour separating their victories.

It has been a traumatic year for the family with the sudden death of Paul Smithies last July. The 56-year-old had established Monovale Farm with wife Cushla and immersed himself in his passion for breeding and racing.

Son Joe is now at the helm and the 28-year-old is thankful for the time he spent on the farm with his father.

“I am lucky that I worked alongside him for so long,” he said. “We almost became duplicates of each other where we knew what the other would do in any situation. I’ve been doing yearling preparation for 14 years.”

Like his father, Joe Smithies completed an accounting degree before coming to work full-time on the farm.

“I’m pretty glad I did as it would be pretty challenging otherwise,” he said. “We are lucky we can carry on as he left it.”

There is also back-up in the form of younger brother Max.

“He finished his accounting degree, too and now looks after the day-to-day operations on the farm,” said Joe. “It was a long term option for him to work on the farm, but it happened sooner given what happened.”

“You can’t beat a family run business. My wife Vanessa does the administration and paperwork and my mother helps out whenever needed.”

While it is pretty much business as usual at Monovale as they prepare their draft for Karaka, there will be changes in the future.

“We have made a lot of changes in the way the farm is run and where it is heading, but it will take a few years to see the results,” he said.

One fixture on the farm which remains is the 24-year-old mare Miss Opera. The dam of the Group One winners Sir Slick and Puccini and also Verdi, Miss Opera has recently returned a positive scan to Ocean Park.

“She had a year off and now we’ve got her back in foal hopefully she will hold it,” he said.

Monovale also retains a yearling colt and two-year-old filly from Miss Opera, both by O’Reilly, and they plan to race both themselves.

At this stage Verdi, who is trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, is nominated to run in the City of Auckland Cup.

Clarify, who was also bred by Monovale, holds a nomination for the Dunstan Feeds

Stayers Championship on the same day. The son of Savabeel is trained by Peter McKay and the four-year-old is nominated for both the Wellington and Auckland Cups.

– NZ Racing Desk