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One for the girls as Global Glamour steals the show down under

40 women from seven countries involved in owning the three-year-old filly

Global Glamour lands the Thousand Guineas at Caulfield for the It's All About The Girls syndicate
Global Glamour lands the Thousand Guineas at Caulfield for the It's All About The Girls syndicateCredit: Vince Caligiuri

As far as racehorses go there can be few more appropriately named than Global Glamour. The three-year-old filly has grabbed the limelight in Australia not only for her ability to run, but because she is owned by the It’s All About The Girls syndicate, a group of 40 women from seven different countries.

The daughter of Star Witness has won four races, including the Group 1 Caulfield Thousand Guineas and Flight Stakes, and has amassed earnings of A$1,135,500 in the process.

Despite the dizzy heights she and her owners have scaled, the Global Glamour story has an altogether more humble beginning.

“I was on the sales bus heading out to Magic Millions on the Gold Coast with Anna Seitz who worked at Fasig-Tipton,” explains syndicate manager Elaine ‘Legs’ Lawlor. “Because of all the fantastic prize-money Magic Millions put on, and the fact Anna had already run a syndicate in America, we thought why not do one here?”

While the prize-money situation in Australia is in far better health than either Britain or Ireland, it was one particularly valuable bounty that Lawlor and Seitz hoped to plunder.

“Katie Page-Harvey [owner of Magic Millions] introduced a scheme to try and encourage women into racing whereby if a horse bought at Magic Millions and owned by women ran in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic the following year, they stand a chance of winning a share of a A$500,000 bonus,” says Lawlor. “That was a great incentive to get a group of women together and start a syndicate.”

By the time Lawlor had filled the syndicate the group numbered 40 women from seven different countries, each with a two and a half per cent share in the filly.

“We started off getting wives of men who work at sales companies, so the wife of Vin Cox came in, the wife of Eric Hoyeau from Arqana is in, Petrea Vela from New Zealand Bloodstock is there, myself from Goffs, Anna from Fasig, then I just got on the phone and called up mates and we got 40 women to take an interest. I said to the group that if we’re going to have an all girls syndicate we better have Gai Waterhouse train it!”

With a plan in place James Bester was the man charged with sourcing the horse, and he eventually came up with the daughter of Star Witness and the Testa Rossa mare Spectacula, who cost the syndicate A$65,000.

Like so many before her Global Glamour flourished under the care of Waterhouse, leaving Lawlor and Seitz to re-evaluate their initial ambition of trying to scoop a share of the women in racing bonus.

Global Glamour made a winning debut at two before a hugely fruitful three-year-old campaign has seen her win a brace of Group 1s within a week in October and land the Group 2 Fingers Stakes at Randwick on her most recent outing. She is now being primed for a tilt at the Surround Stakes at Randwick on Saturday before heading back to the same course for the Guineas, a race worth A$1m.

“It’s unbelievable how it’s taken off,” says Lawlor. “A lot of women in the syndicate are involved in the industry but they’ve never had their own horse, so the excitement they’re getting is unreal, it’s palpable. And Gai just makes it all the more enjoyable. It’s a fantastic vibe, I hope I can translate it back to Ireland as I really do think it’s the way forward to get everybody involved in racing.”

As well as managing the syndicate behind Global Glamour Lawlor is also a director of the Ireland-based Goffs auction house, and her southern hemisphere experience has certainly provided food for thought.

When asked if something along the lines of the Magic Millions bonus scheme is something she was looking to implement at Goffs Lawlor says: “I certainly think it would be up for discussion,” before adding: “I would definitely consider getting a syndicate together back in Ireland. People have seen that it works with Global Glamour and that it can be done for not a lot of money.

"All you want is a group of mates to get together and have some fun and go to the races. I would love to do it and have one in training with Jessica Harrington or someone like that. With Horse Racing Ireland and Irish Thoroughbred Marketing at home it’s definitely something we should get going. Especially if it helps get young people involved.”

The inclusive culture surrounding racing in Australia is undoubtedly what makes ownership such an appealing proposition, and the authorities in Britain and Ireland would be well served by taking a leaf out of the book of their southern hemisphere counterparts when it comes to embracing new participants into the sport.

“There’s such an appetite for racing in Australia, everyone you meet has a horse,” says Lawlor. “They might only have a small share but they have a horse and it makes them feel so involved. I’ve been coming to Australia for eight or nine years and every year it’s getting stronger. They make racing so approachable, and open and user-friendly.

"There’s no hierarchy, everyone just rolls up their sleeves and is there to have fun and enjoy having a horse. The racecourses can’t do enough to encourage you to go and it’s just so accessible, and that goes for the trainers and the jockeys too, it’s an open book. It’s a model that’s working and I think if we in Britain and Ireland could go that way it would be brilliant.”

Lawlor is no stranger to racehorse ownership, having been involved in numerous horses including the likes of Nichols Canyon, which adds even more weight to her enthusiasm for owning a horse with 39 other people.

“I worked with Highclere for a couple of years before I went to Goffs and that’s where I saw how syndicates could be done,” she says. “I used to work with John Gosden in America and I’ve always kept a leg in something with him, but owning Global Glamour has just been such a buzz. When you have people to share it with it makes the whole experience even better.”

Lawlor struggles to pinpoint a particular highlight, but says she has been taken aback by the affection the racing public have shown Global Glamour and her owners.

“Winning two Group 1s within a week was amazing,” she says. “I was in France for the Arc when she won the first Group 1 and the night before five or six of us involved in Global Glamour were at a party and Gai was texting us telling us to stay up because the filly was going to win, and sure enough she did.

"To head down to Melbourne the following week and lead all the way was amazing, she’s a tough filly. After the race James Bester remarked that he never thought he’d satisfy 40 women in 90 seconds!

“The publicity and the goodwill she’s gathered, everybody has been delighted for us and the camaraderie has been brilliant. I think the fact that the women involved really dress up and enjoy the occasion and the glamour of it all has caught people’s attention, the filly is so well-named!”

The success of Global Glamour is an example of syndicate ownership at its best, and the story of her 40-strong group of owners highlights the incredible journey horse racing can take owners on even if they have not spent a small fortune. Lawlor also hinted there may be another significant twist in the tale of Global Glamour.

“We have quite an ambitious programme planned for her,” she says. “It would be a dream come true to take her to Royal Ascot. If she can do it, we’ll do it.”

James ThomasSales correspondent
Published on 20 February 2017Last updated 11:52, 21 February 2017