Above: Affair to Remember taking out second place with Mark Zahra in the Sportsbet Ballarat Cup (Natasha Morello/Racing Photos)
Having been a prominent divorce lawyer it perhaps seemed only fitting that well known South Australian breeder and racing identity David Peacock would name a horse Affair To Remember.
But the 74-year-old Peacock, who is a former South Australian Jockey Club chairman, is quick to dismiss any link with his previous profession and the naming of the four-year-old mare by Swettenham Stud stallion Toronado.
He explains that the mare, which finished second to Irish Flame in last Saturday’s Ballarat Cup, was in fact named after a 1957 film.
With four wins and six minor places from her 16 starts, Peacock said Affair To Remember has developed an enormous following in Australia, particularly Victoria.
“I bred her and leased her out to myself and some friends so we can have some fun and I said to one of them that she is going to be a well backed horse and he said why is that,” Peacock laughed.
“Most people of my age with remember the film with Deborah Kerr and Cary Gant, An Affair to Remember. It was made in 1957.”
Peacock said his mother Gwen loved films and her favourite was Waterloo Bridge (1931) but that name was already taken but she also loved the film An Affair to Remember so he thought he’d name the mare after the movie.
“Thankfully it’s been a name that has resonated out there in race land,” he said.
Trained at Ballarat by Dan O’Sullivan, Affair To Remember went into the Ballarat Cup as the $3.90 favourite after winning the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington during the Spring Carnival.
Peacock said the mare looked gone during the running of the Ballarat Cup but ran home strongly and got into some trouble with So Si Bon at the wrong time and was probably unlucky to go down by the narrowest of margins.
“These things happen but we got 90 grand for running second,” he said.
Peacock’s association with O’Sullivan goes back to when the trainer was based in Adelaide and the pair had plenty of success.
He was an owner of So Gorgeous (Brief Truce x Crowning Jewel) which O’Sullivan trained in Group 2 victories in the Ascot Vale Stakes and Edward Manifold Stakes, and Group 3 wins in the Tranquil Star Stakes and Adelaide Guineas. The horse also won the Listed Quezette Stakes.
“So we go back a long way,” Peacock said.
Peacock describes Affair To Remember as a bit “gut wrenching” to watch as she “ambles out of the gates” and almost always comes down the extreme outside.
But he says in last Saturday’s Ballarat Cup she went in between horses and was incredibly brave.
Peacock said his mother also loved her horses and they raced some good ones together, with the best being grey stallion Mikado which won 13 races, including the Yan Yean Stakes which was run on Melbourne Cup Day.
“I’ve been breeding horses for about 50 years and I just love it,” he said.
“I mean it’s like being inoculated with a virus, you never get rid of it do you?”
Peacock’s seven broodmares are sent from his Macclesfield farm in SA to mainly Victorian stallions.
As well as Affair To Remember, he had got another four horses by Toronado, including two full sisters and also another out of Group 1 placed mare Bahamas which he also raced and bred.
Affair To Remember’s dam, St Trinians (Black Hawk x Besotted) produced the lightly raced Bahamas (Teofilo) which finished third in the Australasian Oaks in 2015.
“St Trinians was a pretty good horse over here in Adelaide and she won eight races and three of which were good Listed races,” Peacock said.
“We have done quite well with there but she has had a lot of bad luck unfortunately with some of her foals.”
Peacock’s love of Toronado came after he saw the stallion race live in the same race as Dawn Approach which stood five seasons in Australia.
“I happened to be in England on holiday and there was a fabulous horse called Dawn Approach which was just no good here in Australia as a stallion,” he said,
“I hold the world record for the two highest Dawn Approaches sold anywhere in the world.
“Anyway, I was in England and had a loose day and I thought I might go to glorious Goodwood and had reciprocal rights and all that sort of nonsense and the main race of the day was the Sussex Stakes.
“And Toronado came from the clouds to just pip Dawn Approach on the finishing post and I fell in love with him that day and when young Adam Sangster brought him over I rang him and said I have to send a mare to that horse.
“I think I have sent one for every season that the horse has been here.”
Peacock is famous for his Discreet line of horses.
Peacock said there are many relations of his grand Group 3 winning mare She’s Discreet (Euclase x Halo Again) which produced three stakes winners – Forever Discreet, I’m Discreet and Very Discreet.
All of She’s Discreet’s 13 foals raced – and won. The mare’s dam, Halo Again, died at 33-years-old on Peacock’s farm last year after being retired from stud duties in 2015. Halo Again, also bred by Peacock, produced five stakes winners.
Peacock was chairman of the SAJC for four years and was on the board for a total of 15 years.
As well as sending mares to Toronado this season, he also sent two mares to new Victorian Darley shuttle stallion Blue Point.
Peacock splits his race horses between trainers O’Sullivan and Phillip Stokes who has stables in South Australian and Victoria. With Affair To Remember now in the paddock, Peacock said two he has with Stokes in Victoria, Highly Discreet (Street Boss x Very Discreet) and Seemingly Discreet (Sepoy x Just Discreet) are the best he has racing at the moment.
His breeding plan is to sell the colts and race the fillies and says that two years ago he was lucky to get $1.15 million for a Brazen Beau colt which is unraced but won a barrier trial at Warwick Farm last week.
Named Border Control, the three-year-old is out of Peacock’s mare Just Discreet (Exceed and Excel) and trained by Team Hawkes.
“We sell the colts if we possibly can to keep the taxman happy and by and large we race the fillies ourselves in the hope that we will get one good enough to go to stud,” he said.
“All the Discreet horses started off 45 years ago with a mare called Cassie (Holborn x Lido Lady).”
Affair To Remember, which has now been sent to the paddock and could be set for next year’s All Star Mile, is obviously a valuable mare after winning the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m).
Peacock said Melbourne bloodstock agent Sheamus Mills offered him $650,000 for the mare.
“I said to him thanks for the offer of the deposit,” Peacock joked.
“He got back to me with an offer of $850,000 and I thought about it for a week and he said you will have to make a decision because my man needs to know.”
Peacock said a friend told him he’d break O’Sullivan’s heart if the sold the mare.
“I rang Dan and said I’m very cross with you, but I have decided not to sell this horse,” he quipped.
“And Dan, who is too a nice a man, said thanks.
“I rang dear, old Sheamus and said I can’t sell her as I’d break Dan’s heart.”
Affair To Remember has won $512,000 in prizemoney and is worth much more when as a broodmare when her racing days are over.
And she could have added to an imposing record set by Peacock. After winning the Edward Manifold Stakes with three horses he raced and two of them he bred – So Gorgeous, Maybe Discreet and Seemingly Discreet – a minor setback stopped Affair to Remember competing in the race.
With O’Sullivan confident he can get a good 1600m victory out of the mare, Peacock said the popularity of the mare should get her into the All Star Mile where the field is uniquely decided on a public vote.