Glorious double for Billesdon sisters pays tribute to McCreery
Stock produced by the late master of Stowell Hill Stud in form
The Pall Mall partners must have feared their racing luck had come to an end as they watched Billesdon Brook buffeted about among runners as the field came down the hill in the nursery at Goodwood on Thursday.
Only the preceding afternoon, the syndicate had braved truly abysmal conditions to greet Billesdon Bess following her win under Hollie Doyle in the fillies’ handicap, a result that had maintained a remarkable run of success for connections; surely it was asking too much for her younger half-sister to do her bit by winning her assignment, a similarly competitive event?
Lining up on the back of a close third in the Star Stakes at Sandown the previous Friday, Billesdon Brook looked a worthy favourite for Richard Hannon.
Then the stalls opened. Crowded among horses, all looked lost when gap after gap closed on her. It wasn’t until a furlong out that Sean Levey had her in the clear and when some might have given up, she found an extra gear to run down the leaders and snatch victory on the line from stablemate Cheeky Rascal.
It was the fourth win of the season overall for the Pall Mall Partners but the real credit goes to Stowell Hill Stud in Somerset, which bred both 'Billesdons' out of another homebred in Coplow. Not only that, but Coplow is a half-sister to recent Newmarket maiden winner Anna Nerium, a Dubawi filly bred by Stowell Hill out of Anna Oleanda.
In all, they pay further tribute to the skill of the stud’s late owner Bob McCreery, 'a true visionary' in the words of Paul Thorman who died late last year at the age of 86.
McCreery also founded Pall Mall Racing and was at the helm when they campaigned the ill-fated Horris Hill Stakes winner Piping Rock, another out of Anna Oleanda, before his sale to Godolphin. Today, Sandy Kilpatrick is a vital cog in the running of the syndicate, whose members include Richard Hannon senior.
"It’s extraordinary," says McCreery’s wife Jeanette. "The sisters have won four races between them this year.
"Bob set up Pall Mall Partners and it’s been a lot of fun - there are some real core members."
She adds: "Billesdon Bess gets on very well with Hollie Doyle and the horse is as a tough as old boots.
"Then I was quite confident the day before about Billesdon Brook. She had run very well at Sandown in a good race and she went to Goodwood looking well handicapped."
Then the racing gods intervened.
"She became stuck in what I call the tumbledryer but amazingly then there was this Arazi moment,” says McCreery, alluding to the way Billesdon Brook scythed through the field.
"It was an extraordinary six days because Anna Nerium had also won at Newmarket the previous Saturday," she adds. "Richard has been struggling to find a fillies' only race for her, so she had to run against the colts. And [homebred] Mark Hopkins ran third on Friday in the two-mile handicap at Ascot. Everyone loves him - he’s an orphan and a great galloper who tries very hard."
The Coplow story begins with the purchase of Anna Oleanda for 45,000gns at the 2005 Tattersalls December Sale. Out of German champion Anna Paola, Anna Oleanda is a sister to German Group 3 winner Anno Luce and from a fine Gestut Rottgen family also responsible for Helmet, Epaulette and National Defense.
In addition, she was also a daughter of Old Vic, the runaway 1989 French and Irish Derby winner who, alongside High Top, Anshan, Electric, Bianca Nera and more recently Gale Force Ten, was one of the very best bred by McCreery at Stowell Hill.
Anna Oleanda proved to be an excellent purchase. Her second foal for Stowell Hill was the Fantastic Light filly Middle Club, who carried McCreery’s colours to victory in the 2009 Prix d’Aumale and a close second in the 2010 Oaks d’Italia before her sale for 280,000gns to America. Piping Rock followed in 2011 while Anna Nerium, who was retained for 300,000gns as a yearling, is her tenth foal and eighth winner.
Ironically, so far the only runner out of Anna Oleanda who hasn’t won is Coplow. However, the daughter of Manduro did show ability, notably when running a close second for Richard Hannon senior in a Newbury maiden.
"Coplow was a beautiful mover but a bit tricky," says McCreery. "She was with Hannon and showed ability. Then she went to David Elsworth. But then one day she got cast in her box and hurt herself. Bob was with Richard Hannon when he got the news. He turned to Richard and said 'do you have any nominations?' and Richard said, 'well yes, I have one to Dick Turpin'. So it was decided there and then to send her across the road to the National Stud to Dick Turpin. The result was Billesdon Bess."
Billesdon Brook, by Champs Elysees, is her second foal and is followed by a Showcasing yearling filly. Coplow also has a Sepoy filly foal but was barren this season to Territories.
Billesdon Bess is one of the highest rated runners by the exiled Dick Turpin. Often one to think outside the box, McCreery also bred the best Flat runner by Kirkwall - a £3,000 stallion at his peak - in Listed winner Ronaldsay, later the dam of Jersey Stakes winner Gale Force Ten.
The death of Bob McCreery, also a gifted amateur rider who won the 1953 Welsh Grand National on Stalbridge Rock and latterly involved in setting up the European Breeders' Fund as well as a longstanding trustee of the Injured Jockeys Fund, left a void in British breeding.
But life goes on at Stowell Hill, the day-to-day running of which is overseen by stud manager David Ludlow. This year the stud has a particularly good draft of yearlings to look forward to, among them an 'exciting filly' by Medaglia D’Oro out of Middle Club (who returned to her birthplace when bought back in 2015), the Showcasing filly out of Coplow and an Invincible Spirit half-sister to Gale Force Ten.
The latter sells with Trickledown Stud at the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale this month, while Stowell Hill themselves will send through the Medaglia D’Oro and Showcasing yearlings from Anna Oleanda’s family at Tattersalls in October.
"It’s a determined, tough family - those two fillies were certainly determined last week," says McCreery. "To get two animals like that out of one mare is wonderful.
"It’s Bob’s legacy, and one must really enjoy it."
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