Above: Haut Brion Her winning the G2 Sheraco S.
For a fleeting moment Peter Liston thought the Victorian mare he bred at his Three Bridges Thoroughbreds farm was poised to run a place in the $15 million The Everest at Randwick on Saturday.
But in the end Haut Brion Her – and the rest of the field – was no match for the eventual winner and race favourite Classique Legend, but the $41 shot finished fifth and in front of the some of the bigger names and more fancied horses.
Liston, who races the five-year-old mare in partnership with West Australians Gary Johnson and Steve Gardiner, bought the last slot in the race from its holder Chris Waller who also trains the mare.
The fifth placed carried prizemoney of $750,000 which virtually squared off what Liston and his co-owners paid for the slot.
The dreaded COVID-19 stopped Liston and his wife Pauline from being trackside for the richest race on turf.
“The tempo mucked us up a bit and she went a bit hard, but we were very proud that she stuck on and ran fifth, it was a very good effort,” Liston said.
“Waller’s comment was that she just got caught in that spot where they were going hard and she wanted to keep her spot.
“There is a race (Yes Yes Yes Stakes) in a couple of weeks worth a million dollars and there is a bonus of $750,000, so I think that is her next project all being well.
“Chris Waller was pleased with the run and we beat a lot of good horses which finished behind us.”
The Yes Yes Yes Stakes is at Rosehill on October 31 and the $1 million race carries a first prize of $580,000 and winner’s bonus of $750,000 for horses that raced in The Everest.
Liston said Haut Brion Her would have to be regarded as one of the better mares in Australia after her performance in The Everest.
With victory in the Group 2 Blazer Stakes (1400m) at Flemington last October and a win in the Group 2 Sheraco Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill in September this year, the fifth in The Everest (1200m) shot Haut Brion Her’s prizemoney to $1.2 million.
The Zoustar mare’s race record is outstanding with six wins and three seconds from 11 starts.
Liston described it as a gutsy effort to buy the slot, but they believed in the mare.
“I think we’ll just get our money back which isn’t too bad as we had a crack,” he said.
“We paid $600,000 for the slot and it looks pretty good but when you see all the take outs, there is a fair few of them.
“But the main thing we wanted to do was to back our product. We had bred a product that was good enough to run in it and we were prepared to back it.”
Haut Brion Her’s jockey, Brenton Avdulla, was full of praise for the mare’s performance.
“She ran out of her skin,” he said.
“We went along at a brilliant speed. She has a big race in her.”
After grabbing the last remaining slot only days before the race, Liston admitted they lived in hope for a week but he thought half down the straight she was going to run second.
Liston bred the mare at their Eddington farm and she was going to the sales.
But it was his wife who didn’t want to sell.
“Pauline just said if it’s the best horse we have bred, why are we selling it,” Liston said.
“I said the reason we are selling her is because we need to pay our bills.”
Liston said they owned 40 per cent of the mare and then sold 30 per cent, leaving them with 10 per cent.
“It gave us money and it also kept us in the ownership. Gary Johnson bought into her. And there is Steve Gardiner, who is also from West Australia, and they are great friends of ours.
“Stevie said that apart from his kids and grandkids it was the most exciting week he’s had. He was looking forward to the race and everything.
“Everyone was glad we took the punt. It was good.”
Liston supports The Everest and said the lack of publicity it generated in Victoria was weird and said if someone is doing something better than you, then you try to follow them or do something similar.
“If we could get a similar concept here it would be fantastic,” he said.
Victoria was also represented in The Everest with Gytrash which was sold at the 2017 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale through Maluka Thoroughbred’s draft. Santa Ana Lane was sold by Rosemont Stud at Melbourne Premier in 2014 and Eduardo is Victorian bred,
Liston said Waller had always spoken very highly of the mare, which had nearly a year off after suffering a tendon injury and was treated in Victoria by horse rehabilitation specialist Lee Evison.
He said it was through Evison’s dedication and expertise, and the belief of Liston’s son Toby that they could get her back, plus Waller’s patience and obvious ability, that resulted in getting the mare back to the big stage.
Before suffering the injury, Liston was convinced Haut Brion Her was well above average after she won the Blazer Stakes when Waller was convinced that she doesn’t go as well the Melbourne way.
Liston said they were thinking about bringing the mare down for the Manikato Stakes at The Valley but decided to leave her in Sydney where she races well and have a crack at The Everest.
“We’ll give her another run or two and then bring her back for the autumn next year,” he said.
Liston said the dam – One In A Million (Redoute’s Choice x Happen) took fright during a thunder storm and went through a fence, breaking her leg.
“So we only got the one foal out of her after we purchased her,” he said.
One In A Million was trained by John O’Shea in Sydney and had 10 starts for two wins, three seconds and two thirds. She was Listed placed three times, and was Group 2 and 3 placed.
As well as looking forward to Haut Brion Her’s next race, Liston said Three Bridges was proud to be presenting some high quality yearlings at future sales.
“And we have got 10 more mares to foal and we’ll get that out of the way and then the yearlings will be in soon,” he said.
“At this stage we will have about nine yearlings at the Gold Coast and 16 to Melbourne.
“They are outstanding and we have deliberately been trying to upgrade our mares and it’s very expensive and I think we’ve got three I Am Invincibles, a few Exceed and Excels and all the right sires and hopefully the right product.”