Ouija Board with her Galileo Colt Foal, Australia (2011) / The Vault (p)

Ouija Board with her Galileo Colt Foal, Australia (2011) / The Vault (p)

with Emma Berry

Twenty-four hours after his younger half-brother Sea The Stars (Ire) was represented by his first Classic winner in Taghrooda (GB), the name Galileo (Ire) was back in the spotlight at Epsom as his son Australia (GB) confirmed the Ballydoyle team’s belief in him with a superlative performance in the Investec Derby. Never has the old breeding adage been so well upheld. There can be no denying Galileo’s claims to the title of best stallion in the world, while Australia’s dam Ouija Board (GB), who shares her sire Cape Cross (Ire) with Sea the Stars, was undoubtedly the best of her generation of fillies when annexing the Oaks, Irish Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at three before going on to claim another four Group or Grade 1 races at four and five.

From the combined genes of these two champions has sprung forth another; the only horse other than Lammtarra by a Derby winner out of an Oaks winner, to become a Derby winner himself. Though he is by Ireland’s pride and joy and named after a country in another hemisphere, Australia is British-bred by the family whose fore-bearers gave their name to the great race. It is said that the 12th Earl Of Derby earned the right for his name to be used when the Derby Stakes was first run in 1780 after he won the toss of a coin with his fellow owner/breeder Sir Charles Bunbury. The present-day Lord Derby, Edward Stanley, the 19th Earl, still races horses in the famous Derby colours of black jacket and white cap borne with such credit by his homebred Ouija Board. He also owns Stanley House Stud in Newmarket, where Australia was raised, and which is managed by his brother, the Hon. Peter Stanley.

The 235th Derby winner is Ouija Board’s fourth foal and the first to have been sold by the brothers, having realised 525,000gns at Tattersalls’ October Sale in 2012. He has also maintained her clean sheet of winners to runners, with the mare’s second best to date being Voodoo Prince (GB) (Kingmambo), whose name was changed to Our Voodoo Prince following his recent sale, appropriately to Australia, where he won the G3 Easter Cup at Caulfield in April. The equine Australia’s full-sister Filia Regina (GB) won in Lord Derby’s colours at Yarmouth last summer and is now an extra valuable member of the Stanley House Stud broodmare ranks.

“It’s a lifetime dream, it’s what we all do it for,” said an emotional Peter Stanley as he left the podium at Epsom after collecting the breeder’s trophy with his brother.

“I’ve loved racing ever since I could walk and you always think first and foremost of the Derby. When we won the Oaks [with Ouija Board], I didn’t think it could get any better, but to breed a Derby winner is the most extraordinary feeling. I’ve always believed she would produce a good one and I know people have asked if it would ever happen,” he continued. “She’s such a magnificent mare and I never had any doubt that she’d come up with a good one, but I never thought she’d produce a Derby winner.”

With no current 2-year-old or foal for Ouija Board, Lord Derby admitted that they were now more likely to keep her yearling colt by Dubawi (Ire). The mare is back in foal to Galileo. “It’s a fantastic thing for the Stanley family, and particularly my brother, Peter, who bred Ouija Board and manages the stud,” said Lord Derby.

“The reality is that most great racemares don’t go on to be great broodmares, although their grandchildren may do it. Miesque and Urban Sea broke that trend and maybe Ouija Board is on her way to joining them. I cannot tell you how lucky and proud I feel to think we have done this.” Australia’s triumph brought up a record third consecutive victory in Epsom’s Blue Riband for Aidan O’Brien following Camelot (Ire) and Ruler Of The World (Ire), and his fifth in total, starting, of course, with Galileo himself.

Coolmore supremo John Magnier is often a reluctant interviewee, but he has become the master of the witty one-liner at post-Derby press conferences. Asked what led him to employ O’Brien as Ballydoyle’s resident trainer, he quipped, “I read the papers.” When an equally quick-witted journalist replied, “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers,” Magnier issued the swift retort, “It was the results section.”

Statistics can be manipulated, but results don’t lie. O’Brien and his well-bred battalions now dominate the Derby, and he needs just one more win in the race to equal the record of his Ballydoyle predecessor, Vincent O’Brien. It’s one thing breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best, but the odds can be swung in your favour when a horse is also trained by the best.

Courtesy of Thoroughbred Daily News