Gai Waterhouse in masterstroke at Kensington Palace sale   Leave a comment

Gai Waterhouse in masterstroke at Kensington Palace sale

Pornichet wins Group 1 Doomben Cup
Blake Shinn rides the Gai Waterhouse-trained Pornichet to win the Doomben Cup. Picture: J

Blake Shinn rides the Gai Waterhouse-trained Pornichet to win the Doomben Cup. Picture: Jono Searle.Source: News Corp Australia

Gai Waterhouse has attended and bought at numerous bloodstock auctions in her 23 years as a licensed trainer.

But none was so different as the one where she found her newest Group I winner, and perhaps her career sale ring masterstroke, the French-bred Pornichet.

The world’s most successful female trainer, Waterhouse sifted Pornichet from among some 20 tried racehorses at a first-time auction in England and with precious little to evaluate the worth of his form of just seven starts. It included three wins on second level French country tracks — akin to wins at Wyong, Gosford and Kembla Grange in NSW.

As there was no commercial fashion in the pedigree of this three-year-old son of the smart racehorse but little known sire Vespone, who stands at stud in France for a fee of €4000 ($5652), Waterhouse — having sought advice from her husband and form analyst guru Robbie — acted on the potential of a package of limited form and the colt’s engaging conformation.

She bought him, farmed the cost out to existing clients of her Tulloch Lodge stables and turned him into a Group I winner just seven months after his Australian debut.

In June last year, hundreds of racing folk attended Kensington Palace for a horse auction — the London Sale, staged for the first time by Irish auction company Goffs in association with Quipco, a very wealthy conglomerate controlled by the ruling family of Qatar.

An invitation card was required to gain admittance to The Orangery, a reception venue within the palace grounds used to host weddings and business conventions. And this writer, in London for Royal Ascot which would open the day after the auction, squirrelled an invitation to witness what was the most unusual bloodstock auction seen in Europe.

As black-tie waiters with champagne trays floated around the manicured garden area, Goffs took bids as active buyers viewed on large TV screens the horse on offer in action in pre-sale breeze-up gallops and/or race videos.

All the top rank trainers, many prominent owners and key buyers of European bloodstock were on hand. But it was Waterhouse, Australia’s Queen of the turf, who was the standout in the crowd.

That’s because Waterhouse made a fashion statement by wearing the traditional blood red coat of the Kensington Palace house guards, the item hastily produced for her when she mentioned to the Goffs people that she was feeling the nip of the cool London summer evening.

Snuggly warmed by the coat, Waterhouse turned up the heat as the auction progressed and ended up as the buyer of two of the sale’s top four sellers — at a cost equivalent to $1.37 million.

From a very select catalogue of 53 lots featuring half as unraced two-year-olds, half as older horses in and out of training, 41 lots were sold for $13.35m.

Qatar Bloodstock was the buyer of the sale’s topper, the tried two-year-old Capella Sansevero, for $2.35m. Qatar Bloodstock was also the leading vendor of the second top priced offering, the broodmare Crystal Gaze and her Frankel colt foal at foot, to Coolmore Stud for $2.084m.

Waterhouse bought the sale’s two most expensive older horses — Cafe Society for $598,200 and Pornichet for $770,450 in a private deal made within minutes after he had been passed-in.

Cafe Society, who would go to Royal Ascot to run third in a Listed event to Contributer (dual Group I winner in Sydney in March), arrived in Australia in September and is yet to race.

Pornichet rounded off his first season in Australia in the $650,000 Doomben Cup over 2000 metres at Doomben on Saturday, earning a $416,000 cheque for his third win in seven starts under Waterhouse’s care.

Bounding clear of his 14 rivals entering the straight, Pornichet won unchallenged by over two lengths, beating fellow French-bred Weary. The British import I’m Imposing was third and Irish-bred Moriarty fourth, driving another nail into the coffin of the Australian-bred stayer.

Pornichet is the third imported horse in the past four years to snare the Doomben Cup — after German-bred Mahwingo in 2012 and British-bred Beaten Up in 2013.

Named after a French west coast town, Pornichet was entered for the London sale six weeks after making the big step from provincial form to Longchamp in Paris to run third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by the Japanese-bred Karakontie, in the Group I French 2000 Guineas (1600m).

The sheer brilliance of Waterhouse buying Pornichet on potential — let alone plucking him from 20 tried horses at an auction without a history — was certainly underscored when Karakontie, three starts after his French classic victory, won the Group I Breeders’ Cup Mile (1600m) in the US in November.

Pornichet went into the Doomben Cup after wins in a Group III at Sandown in November two weeks after his Australian debut, a Listed win in record time over 2000 metres at Rosehill in March and a gritty win under 60.5kg in the $100,000 Toowoomba Cup (2150m) on May 2.

He is now to be rested for the winter to aim in the spring for the Group I Cox Plate (2040m), a target Waterhouse also has in mind for her unbeaten Golden Slipper colt Vancouver.

Pornichet is a four-year-old bay horse by Vespone from Porza, whose female line has been a prolific winner producer in France for many generations. It traces to Sly Pola, a noted sprinter who beat older horses in a Group I at Longchamp as a two-year-old and subsequently became the grand-dam of French 2000 Guineas winner Green Dancer, son of the great Nijinsky.

Pornichet is one of six winning foals but the first stakeswinner from seven runners for Porza, a non-winner by the French Group I sprinter Septieme Ciel, by US triple crown winner Seattle Slew.

Porza’s mother Pupsi, by the 1975 Grand Prix de Paris winner Matahawk, was very useful in winning five minor races before producing the French Group I sprint winner Porlezza. Pupsi also features as the grand-dam of the solid French stayer Ponte Tresa, winner of the Group II Prix Kergolay and Group-placed in several of France’s marathon majors including the Group I Prix Royal Oak.

Pornichet is now the biggest achiever for his sire Vespone, who is by the US-bred Llandaff, a princely-bred horse by the exceptional Northern Dancer horse Lyphard from Dahlia, perhaps the best by the outstanding racehorse and sire Vaguely Noble.

The quite remarkable Dahlia included two editions of the Group I King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2400m) in England on her multiple Group I win record in Europe and the US in the first half of the 1970s. She then produced four Group I winners at stud.

Bred by the Swiss stud Gestut Shohrenhof and foaled in Ireland, Vespone ran in the all blue Godolphin Racing colours and built a formidable record in 14 starts, winning four times and recording six seconds. Vespone was one of France’s best at three years, winning the Group I Jean Prat (1800m) and Grand Prix de Paris (2000m) but was winless in seven starts in five countries at four years, faring best for seconds in Group Is in France and Italy.


Posted May 11, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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