She Dances ridden by Linda Meech returns to the mounting yard after winning the IVE > Print Handicap at Ladbrokes Park Lakeside Racecourse on June 11, 2022 in Springvale, Australia. (Scott Barbour/Racing Photos)

Deanna Pope was at Randwick last Saturday to watch a friend’s horse race but had her eyes firmly fixed on the television to watch the opening race at Sandown.

But it was only after the race that she realised that she’d bred the winner, She Dances, which her family sold through Blue Gum Farm’s draft for $180,000 at last year’s Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

The reason Pope took a special interest in the race was that she has a share in Cusack (Not A Single Doubt x Belle Que) which finished second, beaten three lengths by She Dances (Street Boss x Charleston Dancer).

“The reason I was watching the race because my sister and I are in Cusack and I didn’t know she (She Dances) was in the race because I didn’t know her name,” Pope said.

“After the race a friend text me and  asked if I had bred the winner and I had a look and said ‘oh my God, I did.’

“I didn’t know that I’d been beaten by one of our own and if I’d known I would have had a quinella.

“I knew Pete Moody had her but I didn’t know what her name was so it didn’t even occur to me and because I was in Sydney I didn’t have the book but I usually look at the breeding.

“It was a very nice surprise, I must say. It was good to run second and to find out that we bred the winner was pretty nice and we couldn’t have been happier with our little girl.”

She Dances is owned by prominent owner and breeder Gerry Ryan and former World No. 1 tennis player Frank Sedgman.

The two-year-old filly’s granddam is champion mare Innovation Girl (Rubiton x Bright Gleam), bred by the Pope family who also bred Bright Gleam (Jugah x Voodoo Gleam).

Pope recalls that She Dances’ dam, the specially named Charleston Girl (Lonhro), was small but won a 900m maiden at Murray Bridge from her six starts which also included a second over 1000m at Bairnsdale for trainer Ciaron Maher.

“She just didn’t grow but we knew from her breeding that she was valuable to us and was a favourite,” she said.

“Also with her name, our mum passed away and my sisters and I wanted to name a horse after her and she used to tell us that she was a Charleston champion in Adelaide so we named the filly Charleston Dancer.

“We were hoping she was a super star but she didn’t quite get there on the track, but she might as a broodmare.”

She Dances is Charleston Dancer’s first foal after missing to Exceed and Excel at her first season at stud in 2017.

And she again missed to Exceed and Excel in 2019, but the following season had a filly to Snitzel and is again in foal to the stallion.

The Popes, led by father Des and daughters Deanna, Dale and Danielle, are proud of their breeding record with this equine family which started when they bred Innovation Girl’s dam, Bright Gleam.

Innovation Girl, a seven-time Stakes winner, was by 1987 Cox Plate winner Rubiton who Des Pope – who owns Pope Packaging –  later purchased and stood at Blue Gum Farm.

And just two weeks after suffering a fatal colic attack, the mare’s last foal, Ideas Man (Brazen Beau) picked up $302,000 on debut by winning the Inglis Banner for two-year-olds at The Valley in 2019. The Popes sold Ideas Man for $575,000 at the 2019 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale and retained some ownership in the now four-year-old which has new owners and is racing in Darwin where he won his last start by six lengths.

Another of Innovation Girls’ progeny, the Listed winner Chloe In Paris (Exceed and Excel) has had success with her first two foals, fillies Bossy Chloe (Street Boss) and Rue Vivienne (Lonhro) and both are already winners.

The third foal out of Chloe In Paris is the unraced two-year-old colt Devereux (Zoustar) which is trained at Pakenham by Moody.

The mare has a filly by Zoustar and another by Brazen Beau and is in foal to Brazen Beau.

Pope admitted that he father had been a bit down about the breeding caper lately as he’d been putting a lot in but not getting much back after selling only one yearling this year.

Hopefully he’ll be happy with Charleston Dancer’s Snitzel filly which was born last September.

“She is a beautiful weanling,” she said.

“And Charleston Dancer is in foal to Snitzel again and she is going back to him again.

“She was the one we chose to go to Snitzel.”

After She Dances won at Sandown, Pope sent her father a text and said “did you see that.”

She said the victory certainly gave him a lift.

The Popes have been keen to get Snitzel into the pedigree of their broodmares.

And while Campbell can’t talk highly enough of the Snitzel weanling, Pope said they were unsure at this stage whether the filly would be offered for sale.

“There is a good chance we might keep her but we’ll see if the next one is a filly so then we’ve got choices,” she said.

“But the goal is to have a Snitzel filly to add to our broodmare band but if we get another one then we can see where we go with them.”

Pope said it was the first time that her father had decided to send one of his mares to an elite stallion. Snitzel stood for $165,000 during Covid, but his fee this season is back at $220,000.

“After Charleston Dancer had that winner on Saturday, I thought that we had made the right decision to send her to Snitzel,” she said.

“ I thought it was a good choice and that we made the right choice with the right mare to send to him.

“You have always got dilemmas.”

Pope said they had retired their broodmare, Group 2 winner Truly Wicked (Rubiton x Dizzy Lass) which they bred and raced. The mare had the last of her12 foals last year, a Frosted filly. One of the first horses the Popes sold was Exceed and Excel gelding Amber Sky, out of Truly Wicked, which won nearly $2m in Hong Kong.

Another mare they bred, Group 3 winner Tyche Goddess (Teofilo x Cornelia Marie) has been retired from the track and has a booking with So You Think.

Chloe In Paris’ first two foals, Rue Vivienne (Lonhro), which has been retired with a couple of issues after winning a 1050m maiden at Oakbank on Easter Saturday, and Bossy Chloe (Street Boss) could be joining the Pope broodmare band.

“Because we have got three adding to our six, we might look at selling one or two,” she said.

“But we have got Hampton Classic (Exceed and Excel x Truly Wicked) in foal (to Kermadec).

“Dad wants to kind of put a cap on it.

“Dad is almost 87 and he still loves it and asks me to send him a list of what broodmares we’ve got and I’ll sit down with him this week and decide where we are going to send the rest of the mares and which ones we might want to keep.

“He is still working in the business and still doing the horses and I am there to back him up.”

Now with two unraced two-years-olds with Peter Moody, including Lake Agawam (Lonhro x Hampton Classic), the Popes up until recently had five horses with South Australian trainer  David Jolly  but retirements and moving some on, including Ideas Man, have been left with just one – another homebred, Larimer Street,

The four-year-old Brazen Beau gelding started his career in Victoria where he won the Listed Valley Pearl Stakes (1200m) at The Valley.  He has added another two wins to that victory since crossing the border.

Larimer Street is by Brazen Beau and out of the unraced Pope mare Original Choice (Redoute’s Choice x Innovation Girl) which produced prolific winners Waltzing Willie (Street Cry) and his full brother Fulton Street.

The Popes originally came from Adelaide where Des Pope had horses with Pat Barnes.

“We moved to Melbourne and Dad got out of it for a little while and then Pat Barnes was over here with Rubiton and it got us all involved again,’’ Pope said.

“And then when we bought Rubiton and stood him, that’s what got us into the breeding side of things.

“We got the nice broodmares out of him.”

While Pope said they race a few “on the side”, it’s the ones they breed that mean the most to them.

They like to get five or six foals a year, but there are no guarantees and usually they average four.

And last season they had five fillies from their mares. Pope says they love them all but have to make the tough decision of which ones to keep.

Victoria - Thoroughbred Country