Lael Homebred Looking to ‘Master’ Hong Kong

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One Master | Coady

By Alan Carasso

HONG KONG — A little more than an hour south and east of Philadelphia sits Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s Lael Stables, a 190-acre property in Pennsylvania horse country. But despite the success the couple has experience in the United States with horses like the ill-fated Barbaro (Dynaformer), Showing Up (Strategic Mission) and other Grade I winners Check the Label (Stormin Fever) and Precious Kitten (Catienus), a good many followers of American Thoroughbred racing may not be aware that the Jacksons have, over the years, maintained a European-based breeding operation, smaller in scale, but no less formidable.

We’ve always admired the British and Irish racing and how much it interests the public. We love racing on turf,” Jackson told TDN European Editor Emma Berry in an interview for TDN Europe/International edition in 2016.

The Lael racing and breeding program will be on full display this weekend when their homebred 4-year-old filly One Master (GB) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) looks to continue her over-achieving ways against the likes of world top-rated miler Beauty Generation (NZ) (Road to Rock {Aus}) in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin Racecourse.

The story of One Master begins with her granddam, the sensational sprinter Superstar Leo (Ire) (College Chapel {GB}), bred by Lester Piggott and trained by the legendary rider’s son-in-law William Haggas. Superstar Leo, who sold for the equivalent of just over $5,600 at the 1999 Tattersalls October sale, was a quick study at the races, winning three times from four trips to the races in the space of 31 days in early 2000, capped by a 1 1/4-length success over the boys in Royal Ascot’s Norfolk, then a Group 3 test.

“My wife just happened to see Superstar Leo run one day and thought she ran a great race and inquired into whether she might be for sale. That’s how we got started with the family,” Roy Jackson explained.

Bloodstock agent Amanda Skiffington helped arrange for the purchase of Superstar Leo, the Jacksons’ first in Europe, and it could scarcely have worked out more gloriously. Still trained by Haggas, she won the Weatherbys Super Sprint in her first run in the Lael colors and validated 2-1 favoritism in the G2 Flying Childers S. after finishing runner-up in the G1 Phoenix S. Facing elders in the 2000 G1 Prix de l’Abbaye, she covered herself in glory by finishing second, clinching honors as the champion 2-year-old filly in Europe, England and France.

Superstar Leo’s second and best foal to date was Enticing (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}), who won a pair of Group 3 events for the Jacksons and Haggas before retiring to stud in 2009. Enticing was tried with a variety of Danzig-line stallions in her first three years at stud, producing two minor winners, and the decision was made to send her to Fastnet Rock in the spring of 2013.

“We all put our heads together–Amanda and Peter Stanley gave us some advice and we just thought it would be a decent match and we thought we’d give it a try,” Jackson said of the decision to breed to the Coolmore stallion. “She was a nice match on pedigree and it was a good match physically. We wanted to try to put a little bit of distance to her.”

Superstar Leo is also the dam of the Jacksons’ SW & GSP Sentaril (GB) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) and is still going strong, having produced a colt by Zoffany (Ire) in 2017 and a colt by the almighty Frankel (GB) this past February.

A listed winner at three, One Master took some time to find her best form this year, but parlayed a narrow victory in the G3 Fairy Bridge S. at Tipperary in late August into a short-head defeat of Godolphin’s fellow Hong Kong Mile aspirant Inns of Court (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) at 47-1 in the G1 Prix de la Foret on the Arc de Triomphe undercard at ParisLongchamp Oct. 7. Allowed to take her chance in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs Nov. 3, One Master drew the inside gate and was trapped down on what was likely the worst part of the soggy course before rallying stoutly late to be fifth, beaten under a length by Expert Eye (GB) (Acclamation {GB}) after getting onto the better ground.

WATCH: One Master up in the final jump in the Foret

“I thought it was a very good effort,” said Jackson, who nearly won the GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint earlier on the program with Chalon (Dialed In). “We didn’t get any help at all from the post position and when she got to running, she came on really well. It was a bit of an experiment to see how she would do at the mile distance. Her jockey didn’t think it was problem for her and that she did fine. She seemed to handle it very well.”

But by no means do the waters get any shallower this coming weekend. In addition to Beauty Generation, who is looking to go back-to-back in the Mile, the competition also includes a pair of 1600-meter specialists from Japan–Mozu Ascot (Frankel {GB}), this year’s G1 Yasuda Kinen winner; and Persian Knight (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}), who annexed the 2017 G1 Mile Championship and fell just short of successfully defending his title in that event Nov. 18.

How One Master will run is an open question, but Jackson knows one thing for sure.

“You can’t win if you don’t play,” he laughed.

Still, he isn’t underestimating the task at hand.

“It seems no matter where you go, you’re always going to run into a couple of really tough ones,” he added. “She’s had a really, really hard season this year, but everyone thought we may as well give it a go. We honestly didn’t think she would do as well there in France as she did, so you just don’t know. We just thought it was an opportunity to give her a chance.”

The Jacksons are scheduled to depart the East Coast Wednesday, and win, lose or draw, the couple are appreciative of the opportunity to participate.

“We are really looking forward to the trip, it’s a great experience to have one good enough to run there,” Roy Jackson said. “Let’s hope she can do well.”

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