Seventeen years ago, I bred my first little racehorse. A Sundon filly whom I christened La Grande-Duchesse. Tales of ‘Duchess’ are still current, many years later. She might have been a Duchess, but she was NOT a lady. No one liked her, she was such a bad, bad girl. No one, that is, except me.
|The demon Duchess|
She put an end to any career as a racehorse she might have had by driving Murray Edmonds, her unflappable trainer, into a gorse hedge and then sitting down (with sulky and Murray attached) in the racecourse carpark, and refusing to move.
So Duchess was retired without ever racing and came home to Gerolstein. And I sent her to the breeding pen. Well, she had seven foals in all during her life. The first six at Gerolstein. Big tall Anna and beautiful Franco had leg issues and haven’t raced, but the other four got to the races, starting with The Soldier Fritz who came 4th in the Trotting Stakes, made the Jewels final, won his race and succumbed to injury.
|Fritzl wins at Rangiora|
Next was Lucie de Gerolstein who also won once, but showed some of her mother’s bad habits, third came Duchesse de l’amour who picked up two wins in a brief career, and then there was a gap, which should have been filled by Anna and Franco …
But a few months ago, Duchess’s last Gerolstein baby made her race debut. Ruth Celeste Petite. Raced by our friends Shirley and Lisa Marrion, and trained by … you guessed it, the same Murray Edmonds who did his all to get her wicked mamma to the races. ‘Maddy’ (she has a map on Madagascar on her forehead) began splendidly. Fine manners. No galloping. Two second placings in her first three races.
Today she went to Rangiora, with Wendy and PGB in attendance. All there is to say is that she went straight to the front, trotted perfectly all the way while the other favourites didn’t, and cruised to the finish line five lengths clear of the field. Duchess: four winners out of four starters. And I think if this girl stays solid, she should be winning again soon..
Addendum: Duchess’s mother, Gwen herself didn’t do badly as a brood mare, producing the classy Seppl (6 wins) and the bombproof Montmorensy (3 wins, exported) of her three foals to race.
|Seppl wins at Addington|
|Here comes Monty!|