It was probably fitting that a horse raced by a big contingent of former footballers made a winning debut at Yarra Valley on Grand Final Day.
The mare – Picardy – was bred by former Collingwood champion Wayne Richardson, in partnership with prolific winning-owner Rupert Legh who was a top footballer with VFA sides Caulfield and Prahran.
But the footy link doesn’t end there. Picardy’s dam, Miss Grey Goose, was bred by former champion Melbourne centreman Greg Wells who finished his career with Carlton as a premiership player. He raced the Bel Esprit mare with Richardson and former North Melbourne players Kerry Good and Mark Dawson.
Miss Grey Goose’s dam, Incur (Danzero x Flick Me), was raced by Wells, Legh, Richardson and former Collingwood speedster, Ricky Barham.
Picardy’s owners include Legh, Wells, Richardson, former Fitzroy player Brett Grimley and ex-North Melbourne pair Mark Dawson and Kerry Good.
Now a four-year-old, Picardy is by Blue Gum stallion Glass Harmonium. The 15-year-old stallion won $1.6 million in prizemoney and was co-owned by Legh.
While not all footballers like a punt on the horses, if any of the group did they were well rewarded when the mare, trained at Mornington by David Brideoake, ploughed through the heavy 10-rated track to win by 1.5 lengths and paid $26.
Wells has been breeding and racing horses for around 30 years and has had his share of success.
He bred Peninsula Dane (Danerich x Portline) which won five races and finished second 14 times and was third six times. He also bred Peninsula Dane’s dam, Portline (Portland Pirate x Micheline) and her dam Micheline (Final Card x Here Comes Dolly).
Wells also raced Undenied (Rancho Ruler x Nijinsk Prospector) which won the Listed Debutant Stakes at Caulfield in 2001.
“I have had a lot of winners, but no champion,” he said.
“But a lot of good horses.
“We bred out of Norway (Danzero x Is It Dawn) and Incur and we bred Miss Grey Goose and she was a terrific little horse but she had a back problem.
“We didn’t know what to do with her and Wayne (Richardson) who has five aces said I’ll put in her in my backyard and then we decided to put her in to foal and then we all took a share in Picardy.”
Wells has also bred the unraced two-year-old Starz Barwon by Fighting Sun, out of Peninsula Dane, which is also with Brideoake.
Blue Gum’s Phil Campbell revealed that Glass Harmonium had served only a modest book of mares, especially during the past three seasons when the stallion continued to battle fertility problems.
“He has always had fertility issues and unfortunately over that time it has seen breeders who were using him falling off him because obviously in this day and age it’s all about getting foals and pregnancies,” Campbell said.
“And the earlier the foal comes along, the better. Because of his fertility issues he has fallen right out of favour.”
Campbell said Blue Gum had a couple of nice yearlings by the Group 1 McKinnon Stakes winning Glass Harmonium (Verglas x Spring Symphony) and also nice a foal.
“But he is just in the paddock enjoying retirement basically,” he said.
“He is not the world’s worst horse and from limited opportunities, he has had some horses that have shown or show promise but unfortunately he is not a commercial proposition.”
Glass Harmonium had another first start winner on Saturday when three-year-old filly, Harmony Rose, also scored by 1.5 lengths at Kembla Grange for Warwick Farmer trainer Mark Newnham. The filly started at $4.
Campbell said Richardson and Legh had also bred a full brother to Picardy.
“And there is a yearling half-sister here on the farm by Manhattan Rain,” he said.
“The dam won one race over 1000m and it was a big thrill for the boys for sure when Picardy won. And she won quite well.
“There are some rather big identities involved in the ownership. It’s good fun for them.”
Campbell said Brideoake was a good trainer of fillies and knows how to get the best out of them.
“It was a bog track and she obviously appreciated that and did a good job to win,” he said.
And Campbell pointed out that Wayne Richardson, along with Kerry Good, are also a part owners of the John Sadler trained Sartorial Splendor which bounced back to form with victory at The Valley on Friday night over the 955m trip.
Blue Gum sold Sartorial Splendor (Brazen Beau x Persona Ensign) to Sadler for $130,000 at the 2018 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.
It was the four-year-old’s first start since being gelded.
“The boys had a good weekend,” Campbell said.
“He is a very fast horse and Sads (Sadler) has always wished and hoped that he could sort of get the horse to settle a little bit and control him a little bit earlier in the race.
“He has had the ultimate gear change and actually came back here and spelled after the gelding.
“It’s great to see him back and he recorded the second fastest 955m in the 10 years of the event. I know they were all running time on Friday night but he can go along that horse and he is a group winner over 1200m. Hopefully he is in for a good prep.”
Last Friday night’s victory was Sartorial Splendor’s first since the Group 3 Australia Stakes at The Valley in October last year.
Campbell said another horse sold by Blue Gum for $380,000at Melbourne Premier in 2019 – filly September Run (Exceed and Excel x Pittsburgh Flyer) – would hopefully race on Derby Day.
September Run has had four wins – three of those at Listed level – from his seven starts.
The three-year-old’s last two wins have been at Flemington – the Poseidon Stakes and the Cap D’Antibes Stakes.
“I am looking forward at some of the yearlings we have sold bobbing up in the two-year-old races to come,” Campbell said.
“They were a lovely bunch of yearlings off the farm.”