Glenys Chmiel walks back to the stables with Dibaba and Tim Williams after their impressive Auckland win.
Last week’s brilliant Northern Mares Classic winner, Dibaba, may well have run her last race in New Zealand.
She’s under offer to American interests for a significant six-figure price tag and could be sold by the end of the week.
Co-trainer Glenys Chmiel confirmed the move shortly after the daughter of Shadow Play sat parked and made the $40,000 Listed event a one-act affair for driver, Tim Williams.
It was her second feature win of the year after downing Dream About Me and co in the $50,000 Group 2 Premier Mares Championship at Addington last month.
“As the week wore on, I was very pleased with her and she just seemed better and better within herself.”
“She was supposed to come home over the weekend but we decided to aim her for the $25,000 mare at Auckland in a fortnight’s time.
“But I doubt she will be there as she is under offer and the deal is close to being finalised.”
Chmiel, who trains in partnership with her husband, Terry, was based in Cambridge with the horse in the lead-up to the race last week and admits to having been quietly confident.
“I thought the week before was a very good run because she had to sprint a long way from home.
“As the week wore on, I was very pleased with her and she just seemed better and better within herself.
“The only worry was the wet track as she hasn’t been that good on a wet track in the past, but thankfully it didn’t bother her.”
Dibaba has always shown plenty of ability, but has at times struggled to string multiple good races together.
Case in point, the week after her Addington win, she dropped out and finished near-last after having a soft run.
But a change in training seems to have curbed that pattern.
“She’s actually not a very big, robust horse and is quite light-framed.
“So, at times, we’ve backed off her and been a bit kinder to her in her work.
“But, as we’ve since found out, it actually takes more work to keep her up to the mark.
“A lot of times when she’s run badly, it’s been more our fault than hers.”
For Chmiel, daughter of the late Bryce Buchanan, it was just her second Auckland win as a trainer, after one in 2015 with another brilliant mare, Nek Time.
“We haven’t actually campaigned many horses up here so to get our first feature win in Auckland is great.”
But Auckland isn’t exactly foreign to Chmiel; she also had six driving wins at Alexandra Park, all recorded around two decades ago as a junior driver.
Chmiel worked for Mark Purdon in the 1990s when he was based at the Ardmore property now used by Tony Herlihy.
“My dad was based in Southland and would shut down for the winter.
“One year he decided it would be a good idea for me to go to Auckland and join Mark Purdon’s stable.
“It was only supposed to be for a couple of months, but I ending up staying for four-and-a-half years.
“Then, I was about to lose my juniors, and Dad had shifted to Canterbury, so I decided the time was right to move there.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
She met Terry and started a family, their two children now 12 and 13, and they’ve developed a highly-regarded stable supported by loyal clients.
Chmiel admits to being surprised a horse like Dibaba arrived so soon after their New Zealand Record-holding, Queensland Oaks winner, Nek Time.
“We thought she was a one-in-a-million horse in our career, even though everything went wrong in her career.
“We didn’t expect to get one quite so soon, but Dibaba has definitely stepped up to the plate.”
While she’ll be disappointed to see Dibaba leave Chmiel completely understands the logic behind selling – her and Terry have made a living out of doing it themselves.
“You do lose the good ones, but it returns good money to the owners so you can’t blame them for wanting to sell.
“You wish you could hold on to a few of them, but that’s just the way it is.”
Case in point, the Chmiels recently sold their unraced gelding Basil to Australian trainer Dean Braun, and he looks like being a future star.
“We’ve sold Dean a couple of nice horses in the past so when we rung him up and said we’ve got another one, he was ready to come straight over and drive him.
“He liked him right from the word go and has been patient, letting him develop.
“The situation for us was that we really wanted to hold on to him, because he’s a special horse, but then the good offer comes along.
“You want to hold out for more, but as soon as you get beaten by, say the All Stars, your value goes straight down. So, we had to use our brains.”
Chmiel says she and Terry didn’t accrue many horses at the recent yearling sales, but they have plenty to go on with, including the promising pacer, Memphis Tennessee.
“We’re a bit light on yearlings, but we have a few nice two-year-olds working up.
“Two of our main owners, Robert and Sharon Symon, like to buy going horses rather than as yearlings.
“We were fortunate enough to get them when my dad took crook. They’ve been wonderful owners for us.
“Funnily enough, Nek Time is in foal this year and she’s the first time they’ve tried his hand at breeding.”