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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


Updated: Apr 24, 2023

FRIDAY: April 21, 2023: THERE’S a story behind every stable door – and more often than not a good one!

That is certainly the case with today’s Canberra winner Harlemite.

A two-year-old who took on older horses at only her second start and beat them in the Maiden Plate (1000m), the youngster is a homebred prepared at Hawkesbury by Blake Ryan, who races the filly in partnership with his father, one of Sydney’s most successful trainers Gerald Ryan.

Harlemite is a daughter of Menari, the talented sprinter who was trained by Ryan Snr and won three of his eight starts (including the Group 2 Run To The Rose at Rosehill in 2017) before being retired to stud.

We’ll let Blake Ryan tell the story.

“Dad had a service to Menari, but didn’t have a broodmare to send to him,” he explained.

‘So I went looking for one, and bought a mare by Pluck online for $800 a few years back.

Harlem Child was a $25,000 yearling purchase and won a midweek Maiden at Morphettville in January, 2017.

“That was her only success from 19 starts, but I liked the look of her when I saw her photo and she was a maiden mare, and apparently was spending her days somewhere in an Adelaide backyard.

“Dad and I went halves and we got her to Sydney and sent her to be mated with Menari.

“Harlemite was the result, and she was a natural from the time I got her going.

“She ran fifth on debut in a Newcastle 2YO Maiden (900m) on March 30, and then I noticed the Canberra race.

“Unfortunately, she didn’t work as well as I had hoped at Hawkesbury on Monday morning, so I swam her on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Our plan was to tag the favorite (O’So Demanding, who ran fourth), but when Harlemite began so well, Jeff Penza took up the running and she was never in doubt.

“That’s the first homebred I have raced and trained and won with, and it was a terrific thrill.

“I said to Dad I don’t think we have bred a future Group 1 winner, but we’ve got a real trier.”

Father and son bred a second filly, this time sired by Pariah (who finished second to Menari in the 2017 Run To The Rose), but didn’t keep her.

“We sold her as a weanling and sadly Harlem Child later passed away from a colic attack.”

Blake Ryan did his research to come up with the name of their Canberra winner.

“Harlemites are people who live in Harlem, so that’s how our filly got her name,” he explained.

Whilst Blake Ryan couldn’t bring off a Canberra double (stablemate Yes You Think was unplaced in a later race), Gerald and training partner Sterling Alexiou also won the Jardel Cup with $2.90 favorite Golden Gate at the Tamworth Cup meeting, making it a day to truly remember.

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