By Duane Ranger
A recent QBRED victory combined with a sharp Amy Rees eye has ensured another New Zealand-bred winner for Peak Crossing trainer, Mark Rees.
“My daughter, Amy, who is an exceptionally good judge of horseflesh, bought him from New Zealand. She was actually over there recently having a holiday and trying to get away from the horses.
“Every horse she has got me has been above average. Kay Nora Shannon has had two starts for two placings, Wee Jimmy has won several for us and gone a 1:55.8 mile rate, and now Ale Ale Kai has won first up,” Rees said.
Rees was able to buy Ale Ale Kai thanks to Jewel Of Peak’s victory in the Burwood Stud 2-year-old Pace at Albion Park on August 9. It was the Hurrikane Kingcole filly’s first win, meaning she also collected her $10,000 QBRED first win bonus.
“We named her after the Peak Pub at Peak Crossing where we all gather, and the owners have jumped on board Ale Ale Kai as well. We have photos on the wall at the pub.
“Ale Ale Kai has now won her trial and race-day debut, so we have already got some of our purchase price back. She is in again this Friday,” Rees said.
The 4-year-old Bettor’s Delight mare cost $9,000 but $20,000 all up, to get her across the Tasman. Rees said she reminded him of another diminutive Bettor’s Delight New Zealand-import that he had trained.
“She looks like a replica of Bronze Ecstasy. Like him, she is a little horse, who has settled in so well. She’s eating and drinking everything. I think she has taken to the warmer weather,” Rees said.
Ale Ale Kai, who is owned by Rees, Andrew Smith, Karen Bennett, and Justin Craker, was exported from New Zealand on August 20. She won her trial at Albion Park seven days later, and then won her debut at the same venue by 5.1 metres on August 30.
“I’ve got eight in work and she’s now the new number one. I think she will go on with it. But in saying that she has gone one quick quarter since she’s been here.
“To win more races here she’s going to have to return four nice quarters, not just one – so I’m not getting too carried away just yet, but again I owe it all to Amy. She’s never let me down. She has an amazing eye for quality standardbreds,” Rees stressed.
Ale Ale Kai, who is named after a pink catamaran in Hawaii, won two of her 13 starts in New Zealand. She also placed four times.
She was bred by Judith Crooks of Invercargill. She explained how the mare got her name.
“That catamaran took ‘Nip’ and I to Pearl Harbour to look at all the ships. We were holidaying at the time and the name stuck with us. Ale should actually have a little hyphen above the ‘e’ but Harness Racing NZ left it out,” Mrs Crooks said.
‘Nip’ was the late Robert Crooks, who passed away five years ago. The former trainer was married to Judith and together they bred Ale Ale Kai the year Mr Crooks passed away.
“When my husband died I was left with six horses and that’s when I started to wind the operation down. It became a bit much on my own and too costly.
“I don’t have any mares left and I don’t own any more racehorses. Ale Ale Kai was sadly the last horse we bred,” she said.
Ale Ale Kai is the last of three foals out of the maiden Elsu – Anna Patron mare, Alisa Patron (Armbro Raven).
“I think we paid something like $30,000 for her (Anna Patron) at the Yearling Sales in 2009,” Mrs Crooks said.
She said her late husband, who passed away in June 2014 aged 70, would have been proud of Ale Ale Kai.
“He did all the training of our horses until my son-in-law took over the training. ‘Nip’ had some nice pacers over the years like Smoothover and Silent Assassin,” Mrs Crooks said.
Fake Left – Its My Party (In The Pocket) mare Straight Left provided Crooks with his last training and breeding victory. That was at Wyndham on November 4, 2004.
Ale Ale Kai came to Australia having won her last two starts at Cambridge Raceway on June 30 and August 1. She was favourite on both occasions.