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Oppenheimer keen on King George for Cartier winner Star Catcher

Owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer, who accepted his fourth Cartier Award on Tuesday night courtesy of Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly STAR CATCHER (GB), plans to aim his latest flag-bearer at the Group 1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes in 2020.

“We’d certainly like to win the King George,” Oppenhiemer told GBRI at the 29th renewal of the ceremony.

“We missed out with GOLDEN HORN (GB) because it was too soft. We missed out with CRACKSMAN (GB), because it was too firm. So that’s my main target.”

The Hascombe & Valiant Stud owner, whose latest Cartier Awards winner has delivered a trio of Group 1 successes in 2019 including the Group 1 Irish Oaks, is well aware that such a campaign would mean a clash with five-time Cartier Awards winner and this year’s Cartier Older Horse and Cartier Horse of the Year, ENABLE (GB).

“Obviously, we may have to face Enable sometime,” Oppenheimer admitted, “and when I decided to keep my horse in training next year, I didn’t know that Enable was going to run as well for the same trainer. But I’m quite sure we won’t flinch from taking her on.”

As well as looking forward to 2020, Oppenheimer was keen to emphasise the value of a Cartier Award to his Newmarket-based Hascombe & Valiant team.

“We have only about eight working staff, and for them to get an award like this, it boosts the morale,” he explained.

“The prestige of winning a Cartier Award stays with the horse and the stud, and the people working there. It something which, really, they aspire to. I think it’s one of the nicest awards in the world.”

Lennie’s lasting legacy: Charlie Nelson reflects on the latest big stage success for late aunt Lenore Peacock of Manor House Stud

British-bred BELVOIR BAY (GB), who goes under the hammer today at Fasig-Tipton’s November Sale, delivered connections a fairy-tale result on Saturday when overcoming the trauma she suffered in the 2017 San Luis Rey fires to land the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, breaking the track record in the process.

This remarkable mare, who was the only one of her sex in the Turf Sprint line-up, has now won three Group 3s, a Group 2 and a Group 1 stateside.

While the daughter of Newsells Park Stud’s EQUIANO has made a name for herself in the US, her roots are instead found this side of the pond.

Previously under the tutelage of Richard Hannon as a two-year-old, Belvoir Bay was bred at Manor House Stud in Middleham, Yorkshire. Her victory on Saturday represented a second international success story at the top level in as many years for a family nurtured over generations by the late Lenore ‘Lennie’ Peacock, who died last year aged 97.

On Sunday, GBRI discussed the stud’s success, and specifically the family of Belvoir Bay, with Lennie’s nephew, Charlie Nelson, who is now at the helm of the stud, having gradually taken over the running of it in Lennie’s old age.

Lenore ‘Lennie’ Peacock (photo credit: Racing Post)

“The stud had already been established by [Lennie’s husband] Dick Peacock’s grandfather Dobson Peacock in the late 1800s, so it’s been going for 130 years plus,” Nelson explained.

“This is a family we’ve had for generations. The third dam was the dam of BOLD ARRANGEMENT (GB), who was 2nd just beaten in the Kentucky Derby and 3rd in the Hollywood Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes, so there’s a history of America in the family.

“Out of that same family is REDKIRK WARRIOR (GB), who was Champion Sprinter in Australia. He won three Group 1 races out there.

“The family all seem to throw good horses right the way through; as I said, this family has now had Group 1 winners in Australia and America.”

On the subject of the progeny of Belvoir Bay’s dam, PATH OF PEACE (GB), Nelson continued:

“She’s had a decent filly called PEACE TRAIL (GB) by KYLLACHY (GB) and we sold a yearling this year by MUHAARAR (GB), who Sheikh Hamdan luckily bought [for 100,000gns at Tattersalls Book 2]… He has gone into training with Owen Burrows.

“We got her in foal to KINGMAN (GB) but she absorbed the foal, so she’s got no yearling for this year, but the likelihood is now she’ll go back to him this covering season.

“The mare’s actually in foal to Equiano, so we’ll have a full brother or sister to Belvoir Bay.”

Although Nelson explained that the stud is “in the stages of winding down”, he admitted to being partial to the idea of retaining the foal, should it be a filly.

“If it’s a filly, it may well be that we end up making an exception, that could easily happen. We’re half hoping for a filly actually… We sell the colts come what may.”

Indeed, this course of action would represent a continuation of the loose policy that Lennie herself had in place when she was alive. Nelson went on:

“Traditionally, they’ve always been bred to sell, but if there was a nice filly she may have said ‘oh well we’ll hang on to that, or if it doesn’t make enough money at the sales we’ll keep it in training’, with a view to continuing the line and breeding on from it. Fundamentally, if something didn’t make its reserve, she’d keep it back for the family.”

Should Path Of Peace’s next foal be a colt, it will be the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale that will benefit:

“Typically, we always sell as yearlings and have done so historically. We’re typically Book 2 Book 3, but we’ve had Book 1 horses and I daresay there’ll probably be another one if it’s a nice individual. We live in hope that it becomes a Book 1 horse.”

As well as delving into the family of current star Belvoir Bay, Nelson went on to explain a little more about the other stock currently residing at Manor House Stud:

“There’s never been more than about ten mares of our own at the stud, but it’s always punched well above its weight. We’re down now to a handful of mares, including a mare that’s coming quite good that’s a half sister to Path of Peace called ARAMINTE (GB). We went to LETHAL FORCE and bought the yearling [foaled in 2017] back in at 50,000gns, because we liked her so much, and she’s won as a two-year-old and we’re hoping she’s going to be a fairly decent three-year-old.

“Needless to say, after Lennie she’s called LASTING LEGACY (GB)”.

Of course, a lasting legacy results from years of hard work, and Nelson is quick to credit Lennie’s endeavours, as well as those of the team at Manor House Stud:

“She’d have been working on the nominations right now! The stud very much goes back to the Peacock family and Lennie Peacock herself establishing these lines decades ago, so the families go back a very long time.

“She would be very pleased having had as close as a 2nd in the family to winning a Grade 1 in America with Bold Arrangement to have cracked the track record and won a Grade 1 especially at the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, I think she was probably there giving it a bit of a roar from upstairs!

“The credit is very much to her and the Peacock family generally, and the people who work at Manor House Stud who have my highest regard and credits for a really well deserved success.”

Oppenheimer optimistic about 2020 team spearheaded by quality Star Catcher

Anthony Oppenheimer’s Classic-winning filly STAR CATCHER (GB) landed her third top-flight victory on Saturday in the Group 1 QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, giving the owner-breeder his third Champions Day victory in as many years.

Following the race, it was confirmed that the three-year-old will remain in training in 2020 to spearhead a team of Hascombe & Valiant Stud-bred horses that, as a conversation with GBRI on Sunday has revealed, will be as strong in quantity as in quality.

Reflecting on both Star Catcher’s gutsy win and the decision to keep the filly in training next year, Oppenheimer comments:

“We knew it was going to be a very tough race, with so many good fillies in it, and all fairly closely rated, so we could see it was going to be quite a good fight. We were favourite, but I don’t think we expected it. We hoped that we had a reasonable chance of being in the first three.”

The owner-breeder continues: “She’s going to have a break and go back into training next year, so long as she’s well and John is happy with her. I don’t think we have a campaign in mind. We have another useful filly who is rated a couple of pounds below her, and with ENABLE (GB) also running there’s a possibility that we’re going to have to be dodging around a bit. If we race against Enable, that’s fine, but we wouldn’t want to take her on in the early stages.”

The other ‘useful filly’ that Oppenheimer refers to is Group 2 winner DAME MALLIOT (GB), who is also destined for a return to the track next year. Group 2 Musidora Stakes runner-up FRANKELLINA (GB), meanwhile, has been retired to the paddocks and will be covered by SEA THE STARS next spring, Oppenheimer reveals.

For Oppenheimer’s team in training next year, it will be a case of quantity as well as quality, as the stud’s commercial policy of selling the colts and keeping the fillies and a recent spate of filly foals has meant that his black, white and red silks will be carried by a particularly large number of horses next year:

“I’ve got masses of fillies, you see, because unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on how you look upon it – the stud breeds more fillies than colts at the moment. I’ve got a lot of two-year-old fillies going into training. I could have as many as 11 fillies in training next year.”

With so many fillies coming up through the ranks, Oppenheimer is conscious of the need to refine his band of broodmares:

“One has to keep moving them on as fast as possible,” he explains. “We’ve got about 30 at the moment, but we’re dropping down by selling a few at the December Sales. We’re aiming for 27, somewhere around there.”

 Regrettably for Oppenheimer, his band of mares no longer includes Star Catcher’s dam, LYNNWOOD CHASE, who died last year. The star mare has produced four winners to date including Grade 1 Canadian International and Royal Ascot scorer CANNOCK CHASE and the Group 2 winning PISCO SOUR.

However, Oppenheimer is full of hope for her final three foals, a two-year-old KINGMAN (GB) filly named MAURIMO (GB), a yearling filly by FRANKEL (GB) and a colt foal by TIME TEST (GB). He reports:

“Maurimo, who is leased out and is in training with Roger Charlton, has run once but she’s quite small, so I think we’re going to take her back to the stud and beef her up over the winter. I think she could be quite useful next year.

“The yearling is a very nice filly indeed, so we’re quite excited about her. I think she’ll probably go to John Gosden, but I don’t know at the moment. She’s still at the stud, she isn’t named yet.

“Like all foals, the Time Test foal needs a bit of time. He’s just been weaned. The mare was never very big, and so they tend to be on the small side, like Pisco Sour. Being a colt, he’ll definitely go to the sales.”

In the meantime, Oppenheimer has hopes that 2019 will deliver yet more success for his operation with newcomer FRANKLY DARLING (GB) entered at Great Yarmouth on Tuesday:

“Two-year-old Frankly Darling, by Frankel out of HIDDEN HOPE (GB), has been entered [now declared] at Yarmouth on Tuesday, and that’s quite exciting. She’s in training with John Gosden.”

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