Contagious comes full-circle with return to

15 September 2023

Contagious (NZ) was a $41,000 yearling.

After initially catching the eyes of respected trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood when she was offered as a yearling on Gavelhouse Plus, Contagious (NZ) (Proisir) has come full-circle and returned to the online platform.

The multiple black-type performer is being offered as Lot 23 in the latest thoroughbred auction, which closes from 7pm NZST on Monday evening.

By New Zealand’s reigning champion sire Proisir and out of a mare by the legendary Zabeel (NZ), Contagious was bought by James and Wellwood for $41,000 as Lot 5 from Rich Hill Stud’s draft in the 2021 South Island Yearling Sale on Gavelhouse Plus.

She went on to be a black-type performer at the ages of both two and three, lining up in a total of 11 races for one win, five seconds, two thirds and two fourths.

Contagious ran second behind Leedox (NZ) (Time Test) in the Listed Auckland Futurity Stakes (1400m) as an autumn two-year-old, then came into her own the following season with two Group placings against some elite three-year-old fillies.

She was runner-up in the Group Two Lowland Stakes (2100m), where she was beaten by a neck by Val Di Zoldo (NZ) (War Decree). The third placegetter was Pennyweka (NZ) (Satono Aladdin), who went on to win the Group One New Zealand Oaks (2400m) and Group One Australian Oaks (2400m) in her next two starts.

Contagious also ran third in the Group Two David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m). That race was won by her stablemate Prowess (NZ) (Proisir), who went on to win the Group One New Zealand Stakes (2050m) and Sydney’s Group One Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m). The runner-up in the Fillies’ Classic was Sakura Girl (NZ) (Iffraaj), who later won the Group Three Sunline Vase (2100m) and placed in the Group Two Travis Stakes (2000m) and Doomben Roses (2000m).

Contagious made an enormously favourable impression on James and Wellwood, who believed she was capable of scaling even greater heights as a four-year-old this season. A setback has unfortunately brought her racing career to a premature end, but Wellwood expects her to develop into a quality broodmare.

“She caught our eye as a yearling because she was a lovely, athletic filly and a very good mover,” he said. “She was always a really good style of horse and gave us every impression that she’d make a good racehorse.

“She showed plenty of ability from the very beginning of her two-year-old preparation. She was very natural and always had good pace. It was pleasing to see her pick up some black type as an autumn two-year-old, but being out of a Zabeel mare, we always knew that she was going to continue to get better with time.

“She did a great job as a three-year-old, and her race record throughout her career was impeccable – winning or placing in eight of her 11 starts, and only finishing further back than fourth once.

“She performed with credit in some strong company in that three-year-old campaign. She ran second in the Lowland Stakes, beating the Oaks winner in the process, and she was also a very good third behind Prowess in the Fillies’ Classic.

“We were very excited about her prospects at four. She was coming up in lovely order, she’d really strengthened up, and we thought this was going to be her time to take the next step and become a Group winner. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be, but being by Proisir out of a Zabeel mare, I’m sure someone is going to really benefit from that and pick up a lovely broodmare prospect.”