Saturday was one of those great days of racing that you truly had to be present on course to witness history being created.

The sun was shining on Flemington and with an atmospheric crowd, there wasn’t anywhere else you would have wanted to be when the Three Bridges homebred mare sailed past the finish line in the Group 2 Blazer Stakes.

The mare bred by the Liston family and Gary Johnson, who he bred together with his great friends, the Liston family of Three Bridges Thoroughbreds, Haut Brion Her (Zoustar), won the G2 Blazer S., her first black-type success at start number eight.

“This is (my wife) Pauline’s favourite horse. I’m a bit teary,” says Peter Liston, part owner of Blazer Stakes winner Haut Brion Her.

Bloodstock agent Paul Willetts picked out Haut Brion Her’s dam, the stakes-placed One In A Million (Redoute’s Choice), in foal to Zoustar for $170,000 at the 2015 Inglis Australian Broodmare And Weanling Sale for Three Bridges and Johnson, the farm’s biggest supporter.

Peter Liston was apparently furious that his son Toby had gone well above the allotted budget to buy the mare, but the resultant filly proved so special that Johnson insisted they retain her and not send her through the sales.

“Pauline Liston, the matriarch of the family, said to me when we got together to review all our yearlings, as we do a couple of times a year, this is the best they had ever bred. I said to her, if that’s the case, why are we selling her? She said, we breed and sell all our horses,” Johnson told TDN AusNZ.

Haut Brion Her as a yearling

The filly, a half-sister to stakes winners Karacatis (Hussonet {USA}) and Shamillion (Shamardal {USA}) was already catalogued in the 2017 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, but Johnson had other ideas.

“I said, how about I buy you out? Which I did, and the rest is history. I encouraged them to buy back in, which was fabulous. I own 80 per cent, a mate of mine in Broome, Stevie Gardiner owns 10 per cent and the Listons own 10 per cent, it’s a great unity of people,” Gary Johnson said.

While she had plenty of quality, Haut Brion Her had her issues early and required patience, plus some expert care to make her into a racehorse.

“She had a couple of issues with her sesamoids and credit goes to Tommy Brennan, who is one of our main vets, and Michael Bryant, the chiropractor, those two guys nursed her along. She had six months in the paddock and we took our time and the result is what we are getting now,” Johnson said.

The other key player in the evolving story of Haut Brion Her is of course Chris Waller, who had a brilliant day on Saturday with the two horses Johnson owns part of the eight winners for the master trainer, including a record-breaking four Group 1s.

Waller’s assessment of Haut Brion Her when she arrived was typically straight forward and gave Johnson the confidence to know Pauline Liston’s early assessment of her was spot on.

“We chose Chris and she went up there and when I first met him, he said, ‘she’s got an engine’. I love Chris as a trainer and a person. He’s a straight up and down guy and what you see is what you get. He is very committed to his horses and his team,” he said.

“She’s now had eight races for five wins and three placings. It’s just unbelievable. She’s had some difficulty this time in in Melbourne getting on the right leg, but when she turned up at Flemington you could see it was comfortable. She got in front and she was never going to get beaten.

Presentations to connections of Haut Brion Her after winning the Blazer Stakes at Flemington Racecourse on October 05, 2019 in Flemington, Australia. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

“I had a Group 1 winner with Leicester (Wanted) in South Australia which was fabulous, but the fact we bred Haut Brion Her, it was something really special.”

Johnson is happy to leave the decision whether Haut Brion Her, who is in just her second racing preparation, goes on to the G1 Empire Rose S. or to the paddock completely to Waller.

As an owner of 27 broodmares with Three Bridges, he also knows what a Group 2 win on her pedigree page means for her future beyond the track. That is particularly relevant as she is the final foal from One In A Million (Redoute’s Choice), who died earlier this year.

“Her valuation would have gone over $1 million based on yesterday’s win. It’s great to think we can take her off the track in 1-2-3 years’ time and she is going to be a very valuable broodmare,” he said.

Johnson praised the influence of Willetts, not only in Saturday’s success but in building a lasting commercial breeding business with the Listons.

“We’ve gone down the international line and we bought a lot of European broodmares of late. And a lot of that is Paul Willetts’ influence. Paul does all our buying with the Listons and he is just a genius at picking out good horses,” he said.

“He has never let us down. He’s always been on the money and been able to achieve great success for us.

“Three Bridges are a wonderful family. What they do with horses, how they rehabilitate them, and bring horses through, it’s outstanding. When you arrive at a place like that and feel comfortable and there is honesty and integrity, you want to stay and you want to play.

“We get the right broodmares, we get the right breeding and we end up retaining and owning a few, but you end up selling a lot and we’ve been very successful with that.”

Three Bridges Thoroughbreds is a premier farm located in Eddington Victoria. Owned and run by the Liston family, their picturesque farm is located on 1600 acres and their main goal is to ‘quite simply to introduce horses back to nature and let horses be horses.’

Article courtesy of TDNAusNZ and written by Bren O’Brien