Race caller Adam Crettenden couldn’t hide his excitement with the scintillating debut win of Colombe D’Or over 1400m at Geelong on Sunday when the three-year-old filly came from last to claim victory by a length.
Starting as the second favourite at $3.10, Colombe D’Or overcame the outside barrier and showed an enormous turn of foot to overhaul the Danny O’Brien trained $2.70 favourite, Shalily.
“By golly, she is steaming home and she gets over the top of them and that’s a remarkable win…..Colombe D’Or, amazing to win there,” Crettenden said during the finishing stages of the race.
And Crettenden’s post-race comments were even more glowing when said he didn’t think the daughter of Swettenham Stud stallion Rubick was any chance with the way the race was being run.
“Goodness she has really let rip in the last 200 metres and when we look at the sectionals out of this meeting, I reckon this will be the best last 600, 400 and 200 out of the meeting, easily,” he said.
“She has just come with a big rush late and got over the top of them and there might be something in this filly.”
David Eustace, who co-trains with Ciaron Maher, said they were a bit cautious before the race with the filly that had taken a bit of time, soon turns four and was having her first start.
“She has strengthened well from her last prep and showed for a horse that should stay that there is a turn of foot there which is a good combination,” Eustace said.
Eustace said he was delighted for the owners of Colombe D’Or, Thompson Creek Thoroughbreds at Modewarre near Geelong, and their other owners, including VRC chief Neil Wilson.
Thompson Creek Thoroughbreds, based out of Glentree South, is a real family affair and is owned by Wes and Sally Ballantine and his sister Marlo and brother-in-law Guyan Stroud.
And Wes and Marlo’s parents Derek, a well-known journalist and former stud master and owner, and Kaye reside at Glentree South where they oversee all the equine activities.
It was Derek who picked out Colombe D’Or at the Magic Millions 2019 Gold Coast National Weanling Sale and paid $32,000 for the filly.
But Wes admits they contemplated pinhooking the filly and had her entered in the following year’s yearling sale on the Gold Coast, but withdrew her.
The filly was bred by Musk Creek Farm in partnership and is out of Lashezz (Zabeel x Lashed). The granddam Lashed (Encosta De Lago x Traffic Watch), was bred by Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan, and won six Stakes races, from 1500m to 2000m, including three at Group 1 level.
Lashezz never made it to the track for Musk Creek, and then her first foal, by Zoffany died after birth, the following year in 2017 she missed to I Am Invincible and Extreme Choice and then produced Colombe D’Or.
Musk Creek’s Scott Williamson said they bred and then sold Colombe D’Or as a weanling through Widden’s draft and then sold her dam in 2019.
After being sold by Musk Creek to Taormina Lodge in Queensland, Lashezz had a colt by Holler, the unraced two-year-old Gallodoro. Lashezz wasn’t served by in 2020 and then was offered in foal to Dubious (Not A Single Doubt x Suspicieuse) earlier this year in an online auction.
Wes Ballantine, who is CEO of Australia’s leading smart meter and energy data supplier Intellihub, said he bought the mare for $10,000. The former Maher-trained Dubious stands in Queensland for $13,200 and was a Group 2 winner over 1200m and a Group 3 winner over 1000m.
“We bought the mare two or three months ago and felt that she (Colombe D’Or) was training well and the mare was passed in for $10,000 in the online sale and we rang up and bought her,” he said.
“If Colombe D’Or can do something, we’ll think about her (Lashezz) mating for the current year but we haven’t thought through where she’ll go.
“And if she can win another one or two then we’ll seriously think about putting her to a top-class stallion.”
He described Colombe D’Or’s win as super impressive.
“She has taken a bit of time to come to hand,” Ballantine said.
“We always thought she had a real little bit of class about her and she certainly delivered on day one.
“We probably didn’t think she’d be that far back and then at the top of the straight we thought she’d come home strongly, maybe for a strong second but she gobbled them up and got the job done.
“She is a beautiful type and it’s the usual thing and if you’re patient and give them time then it usually works out for the best.”
Ballantine said the filly had always thrown to the Zabeel side and her granddam Lashed was a champion racehorse that claimed the ARC Zabeel Classic as one of her three Group 1 victories over 2000m.
“We bought her with half an eye at the weanling sale to potentially pinhook her and sort of went into the next year’s yearling sales and we had some friends who wanted to get involved and we said we have a nice one on the farm and why don’t we keep her,” he said.
“We syndicated her at a good price for a bunch of friends and everyone is going to enjoy the journey.
“And we are not professional syndicators but from time to time we will put a syndicate together with friends and family in different horses.”
Ballantine said they had bought the 120-acre farm and owned the Thompson Creek Thoroughbreds business for five years.
They started off offering agistment to Maher and other trainers but over the past three seasons had focused on broodmares.
“I guess we have become the leading walk-on farm for Rosemont Stud as in a mare feeder farm. Last year we foaled down about 50 mares and in addition to dries, we managed about 75 mares during the season, with the vast majority walking onto Rosemont,” he said.
“We probably would have had about 45 walking onto Rosemont to go to Shamus Award and he is a very attractive stallion in the local area.
“So we manage our own mares plus external clients and I think we have found a niche as there is a real demand for foaling down and broodmare management services.”
Ballantine said they bred a few of their which they race and also go the sales every year and buy some well-bred fillies with the aim to race and later breed from.
This year they have so far bought fillies by Sacred Falls and Capitalist at Sydney Classic Sale and a Deep Field filly at Melbourne Premier.
“We are sort of in the market every year for two or three well-bred fillies in addition to growing our own broodmare band,” he said.
“We have got a broodmare band of about a dozen of our own and we are constantly upgrading both the quality and growing the numbers.
“At any time we probably have about 40 or 50 mares on the farm.”
Ballantine said over the past five years they had taken the opportunity to improve the reproductive facilities at the farm and have a full night watch during the foaling season with the right staffing facilities, the right mare and foal boxes and crushes.
“We can manage dry mares whether it is under lights or with masks on, so we are fully kitted out for the top end broodmare management,” he said.
“Foaling down about 50 is our right number and then when you add usually another 20 or 30 dries, managing that 70 to 80 during the spring is sort of perfect for our farm.”
And Ballantine said they could look at a city race for their three-year filly in July at a distance of at least 1400m or possibly a mile.
The colours that Colombe D‘Or races in are special to the Ballantine family.
“Dad won a Blue Diamond in those colours in 1979 with Star Shower,” he said.
“When we got back into racing about 10 years ago, we were lucky enough to be able to re-register his colours and carry on the tradition.
“He bought Star Shower as a colt at the sales. He had six starts for six wins and was injured in his Blue Diamond win and was the star colt of his generation.”
And Ballantine explains why they named the filly Colombe D’Or.
They had a very good friend’s 50th birthday party which finished at a hotel called Colombe D’Or in the south of France.
“We all remembered it as one of my favourite places of all time, so we said we’d buy a horse together and if she wins a Group 1 we are heading back to Colombe D’Or.”
Ballantine said you have got to have dreams.