Allison Sheehan admitted to feeling a sense of relief when her homebred El Questro scored a three length win at Flemington on Saturday over 1400m.
Although it was the Cranbourne trainer’s first Flemington victory, that sense of relief was for the horse and not herself.
El Questro, by Bombora Downs stallion Lago Delight, finished second in the corresponding race last year after going into it by finishing second by the narrowest of margins in the Leilani Final.
“I am just relieved that we got there today,” Allison said.
“I have had a heap out of the same family and they have all been really handy horses.”
Allison bred El Questro and owns fifty per cent of the six year-old which has now won more than $200,000 in prize money.
She also trained the mare’s three quarter brother, Tackleberry.
“Tackleberry was nearly my first Flemington winner, but ran second (in 2014).
“As I said I’ve had a heap out of the family including El Questro’s mother, El Rayo, who managed to win only one race as she had a few problems.
“A couple of them were city winners as well and that’s why I went to Lago Delight even though he is uncommercial and unfashionable.”
Allison said after getting Tackleberry, who is out of Danto (Danzero/Neranto) and the winner of five races, she went back to Lago Delight to breed one on the same cross.
She said Lago Delight was only a $2000 service fee when she sent El Rayo (Racer’s Edge/Danto) to him.
“If I had have put her (El Questro) through the yearling sale she wouldn’t have sold,’’ Allison said.
“She is not the most classical style of horse and is not the greatest legged horse but she just tries hard which gets her through.”
Allison said when the filly was a yearling she couldn’t even sell shares in her.
“I got left with half of her and it was only my long term loyal owners who trusted me to do the right thing and that I had some idea what I was doing with breeding,” she said.
“They were involved with her brother and they jumped in, but I ended up getting left with half of her. I’m quite pleased about that now but most times it doesn’t work out.
“She was only ever going to be syndicated to race.”
Allison said she breeds to syndicate horses she can train.
“I have not put one through a ring commercially, but I would hope to do that in the future. With everything that has gone on this year I am a bit nervous about doing it,” she said
“I can always fall back and train them myself if I don’t get the money that I want.”
Allison trained El Rayo’s three brothers – Tackleberry (Lago Delight), Regi Bush (Racer’s Edge) and Villa Alvarado (Racer’s Edge) – to multiple victories.
“I think there was about 12 or 13 winners from the family,” she said.
“And I still have the grand dam (Danto) in the paddock here. She is retired and is 23, rising 24.
“I have got a paddock full of them but that’s how much they mean to me and I’ll look after them for ever.”
Allison sent her mare to Lago Delight in 2012 when the stallion served only nine mares and got eight of them in foal.
“I went to Lago Delight because Tackleberry was by Lago Delight,’’ she said.
“Although it was unfashionable, I knew the cross worked and that’s the reason why I did it.
Officially retired this year, Lago Delight began his stud career with 29 mares in 2004 and his biggest book was 141 in 2007. From 2012 until his retirement, he served only single figure books.
El Questro was only one of nine mares Lago Delight served in 2012.
She sent two mares to stud that year and both are city winners. The other winner was Alonzah (Zuberi/Pride of Ardrossan).
“The other mare (Alonzah) is retired now and was the first one to win and that was at Moonee Valley,” Allison said.
“I bred two that year and before that the first horse I ever bred was Andrassy (Sharkbite) and she won five in town.
“And I only breed one or two a year.”
Andrassy was born in 2011 and is out of Pride of Ardrossan (Desert Sun).
“I have only been breeding for a short time. It is very time consuming and you don’t go into it half-hearted, she (El Questro) came to light nearly eight years ago and her dam retired a little bit late in the season and she wasn’t covered until late October.
“But she went straight into foal but I could never get her back into foal again and she is the only foal we got from her.
“In the end we gave her to someone that breeds Clydesdales to just paddock serve with, so I retired her from breeding after she wouldn’t get into foal.”
El Questro is the last one from the line of mares that have been so good to Allison.
Allison, who says she has a couple of nice three year-old she has bred and went close to having three winners last week.
“We just got beaten at Seymour with Aniceta which is by Canford Cliffs,” she said.
“They need a bit of time and some give in the track and she is rising four. She has run a second and a third in her first two runs and she is from the other side of the family, the Andrassy side.
“I only bred one that year.
“And Hello My Friend, by Americain, won at Moe.
“We are just trying to knock off Aniceta’s maiden before she turns four. I VOBIS all my horses and due to the VOBIS scheme it makes the win worth double. We are planning to go to Swan Hill on Friday at this stage.”
Allison bred Aniceta, while this is her first preparation with Hello My Friend.
“I usually walk in my own mares and foal them down and I have been pretty lucky with them but you always want to upgrade what you have got,” she said.
“The first horse that I bred (Andrassy) is in foal to Impending this year. I am trying to upgrade who I send them to but it doesn’t always make sense when you have winners by Lago Delight and Shark Bite.”
Allison’s previously had three seconds at headquarters – El Questro ran second twice and her brother Tackleberry was runner-up at headquarters six years ago.
“She should have won the Leilani final last year and ran second in this race last year and to go one better this year was very nice for all involved,” she said.
After sending Pride of Ardrossan to Sharkbite, which produced Andrassy, she went back to the stallion the following year and that produced Jawsome which she sold after one win but he has since won four races at interstate bush tracks.
With five city wins and a narrow fourth in the Cockram Stakes in 2016, Allison is hoping the handy Andrassy, which was retired from the track in early 2017, can put her attributes into her foals.
Allison is sending Andrassy, which is out of Pride of Ardrossan (Dessert Sun), to Woodside Park’s Cable Bay this breeding season. Pride of Ardrossan’s last foal was by Kuroshio and a mating is planned with Foxwedge.
Allison has 30 acres at Lang Lang, just within the border of the COVID-19 lockdown.