Audarya Enhances Fanshawe’s Broad Portfolio

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Audarya wins the Filly & Mare Turf | Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire

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Last Saturday at Keeneland was a banner day for the European Breeders’ Cup raiders, who won all four of the races on turf. While Aidan O’Brien, who trained the first three home in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, has enjoyed his fair share of success at the meeting over the years, there was first-time victories for Dermot Weld, James Fanshawe and Kevin Ryan.

Fanshawe’s Pegasus Stables welcomed home Alison Swinburn’s Filly & Mare Turf winner Audarya (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) on Thursday and, while she will soon be off on her winter holiday, she will return to training next year following a season which also included victory in the G1 Prix Jean Romanet in August.

“She got back safely and she’s been out in the playpen,” reported Fanshawe from quarantine in Newmarket on Friday. “She will be turned out on Monday at Fittocks Stud with The Tin Man.”

The trip to Kentucky was the first experience of the Breeders’ Cup for Fanshawe and his wife Jacko, whose wild cheering as Audarya hit the front in the home stretch were captured on television and splashed across social media.

“I could have killed the cameraman who caught us during the last few furlongs but I do think it shows just what it means to us,” he said. “The way Audarya stuck her head down and was so tenacious, she wanted to win. I’ve never had so many texts, emails and letters after a race. It has been really great and I’m very grateful for that because this year, with Covid, everything has been very different. But at the Breeders’ Cup, with Kevin [Ryan] winning the Sprint, and maybe because of the circumstances of the lockdown and lots of people watching on TV, they really got behind us. The whole week there was real camaraderie among the Europeans. We were all away from home together and we won four of the turf races. It was brilliant.”

The Breeders’ Cup victory was a major addition to a tally of big-race wins of significant breadth. While some trainers can easily be categorised, it would be hard to put Fanshawe in a pigeonhole, except to say that a hallmark of his fine record, both on the Flat and over jumps, is a commodity that is all too rare in today’s racing world: patience.

From Group 1-winning sprinters Frizzante (GB) (Efisio {GB}), Society Rock (Ire) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}) and The Tin Man (GB) (Equiano {Fr}) to crack miler Soviet Song (Ire) (Marju {Ire}), top-class stayers Invermark (GB) (Machiavellian) and Arctic Owl (GB) (Most Welcome {GB}) and two Champion hurdlers in Royal Gait (GB) (Gunner B {GB}) and Hors La Loi (Fr) (Cyborg {FR}), Fanshawe has masterminded the careers of horses across all distances and codes. He has had a decent share of smart fillies among them. Indeed, when Audarya leapt from winning a Newcastle handicap to landing the Jean Romanet at Deauville, it was the third time in seven years that the Group 1 contest had fallen to a horse from his stable. Elite Racing Club’s Ribbons (GB) (Manduro {Ger}) got the ball rolling in 2014, followed two years later by Meon Valley Stud’s Speedy Boarding (GB) (Shamardal).

“In the past when we’ve had a good filly, I’ve always tried to get the first race of the season right, or go somewhere not too ambitious to start with,” Fanshawe said.

“I’d be lying if I said at the beginning of the season that I thought this would be where we’d end up. But we started Soviet Song in the same Kempton listed race as Audarya, the Snowdrop Stakes, and Soviet Song was second and then she ended up winning three Group 1 races that year. So that’s always been a race that I like to start the season with for an older filly, but it was a very hot race this year, won by Nazeef (GB).”

He continued, “Because it was a late start to the season everyone was short of somewhere to have their first run and it was quite close to Ascot. Audarya was eighth, she got no run but ran a very good race, much better than the final result suggested.

“She was showing me all the signs at home but I never asked her too many questions because I’m trying to keep her relaxed all the time, rather than finding out how good she is. We knew she was good, and she has told us exactly how good in the end. It has been a gradual progression.”

Few horses experience completely unhindered progression, however, and following the Snowdrop, a sixth-place finish in a listed contest at Pontefract required a step back out of stakes company as Fanshawe and his team regrouped.

“I don’t know what happened at Pontefract but it rained and the race got away from her, she just never got into it and it was just a disaster,” the trainer recalled.

“We felt we just needed to get her back on track and forget about any group or listed races. She was rated 99 and there was an attractive race at Newcastle. We wanted to get her back up to a mile and a quarter on a nice galloping track. After she won that the only two next potential group races were the Atalanta S., which was back to a mile again, or the Jean Romanet, which was a mile and a quarter and for 4-year-olds and upwards. They were both on the same day so we went to France.”

In hindsight, there were plenty of Breeders’ Cup clues on offer from Audarya’s second French trip this year when she was third in the G1 Prix de l’Opera, won by subsequent Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Tarnawa (Ire) (Shamardal). Clearly, Fanshawe is no stranger to travelling with his horses, and beyond Europe he has had success in Canada with EP Taylor S. winner Wandering Star (Red Ransom) and Canadian International runner-up Dandino (GB) (Dansili {GB}), while he has also had two fifth-place finishers in the Melbourne Cup. Even so, he still called upon his former boss Sir Michael Stoute before his trip to Keeneland.

He said, “I went to see Michael just for a refresher and to go over the preparations and what he thought was best, just in case I hadn’t thought of anything.”

The two drawbacks to an otherwise successful venture were Alison Swinburn being unable to travel to America and Ioritz Menidazabal, who rode Audarya to victory at Deauville, testing positive for Covid prior to the meeting and thus being forced to hand the reins to ‘super-sub’ Pierre-Charles Boudot.

“Alison has two in training here and is involved in most of our Fred Archer syndicate horses. She’s been a great supporter,” Fanshawe said of the daughter of former trainer and successful owner-breeder Peter Harris. “Her father is still extremely enthusiastic and they were watching the race together. I spoke to Ioritz afterwards and he said he felt fine even though he had tested positive. It’s a terrible shame but it’s great news that Audarya is coming back into training next year. She has improved all year this year and she has plenty of scope, so it’s really good that Alison has decided to keep her in training.”

The year has also marked a changing of the guard at Pegasus Stables. Fanshawe’s former assistant trainer Kevin Philippart de Foy has left after a four-year stint to start his own training operation on the opposite side of Newmarket, leaving that role open for Fanshawe’s son Tom, who returned from Australia earlier this year, where his experience included a stint working for Newmarket ex-pat Matt Cumani.

“Kevin was obviously a big help and now he’s setting up on his own,” said Fanshawe. “Tom has been involved here since he was a teenager really but he’s recently spent two years in Australia and it’s done him the world of good. He’s very keen to learn and he’s working really hard.

“But we have a really good team, with the head lads Andy Hopkins and Alex Cairns, and Janet Anderson, who runs everything. Daniel Muscutt was really helpful to Audarya in her early days, he got her racing properly. Geoffroy de la Sayette rides her every day and he went out to Kentucky with her, so it really is a big team effort.”

He added, “We haven’t got the biggest string in the town but hopefully when we get a good one we can make sure they fulfil their potential.”

It’s a fact with which anyone who has been following the versatile Fanshawe stable over the last 30 years will certainly agree.

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