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Plenty of memories for Brotherton of his star mare Indigo

She was the dam of six winners who won a total of 52 races

David Brotherton with Bishops Court (left), Indigo (middle) and Amused (right)
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Breeding can be a funny game with no manner of highs and lows, but for Jockey Club member and former steward David Brotherton, he was reflecting on the joys it brought him after his foundation mare Indigo was put down on Monday afternoon.

Her record as a broodmare saw her produce ten foals, six of them being winners who went on to win a total of 52 races. 

The 29-year-old, who was a daughter of Primo Dominie, had originally been purchased at auction by her trainer Richard Whitaker and it was while at his yard where he was inspecting other horses, Brotherton first came across his future broodmare.

He said: "I saw this filly and at that stage, Richard hadn't got an owner for her and he said if I kept her with him then I could purchase her for the same amount that he purchased her for at the sales.

"So that's what I did."

In Brotherton's silks, she ran 15 times with two victories over 5f as a two-year-old at two of his local tracks, Catterick and Thirsk. She was retired from racing at the age of five and it was then Brotherton decided to breed from her.

Among Indigo's progeny her first foal Surprise Mission won six races, who was a result of liaison with Clantime - a stallion Brotherton used over a number of years.

Bishops Court: On the way to winning the Epsom Dash for a second time in 2001

Her first stakes performer came in the shape of Bishops Court, by Clantime, who in 1998 provided her breeder with a day he will never forget when he landed the Epsom Dash on Derby day. As if that was not enough he went on to win the Group 3 Prix du Petit Couvert in the autumn of that season.

Brotherton, father of well-known amateur Serena, added: "I'd never been to the Derby until 1998 and I travelled down with my trainer Lynda Ramsden and we had lunch with Geoff Lewis at Epsom. In those days the Dash was the first race on the card on Derby day, and as it was my first time I found myself standing in the hallowed winner's enclosure which was absolutely unbelievable really."

Progeny of Indigo seemed to develop an affinity with the fast and furious 5f sprint as it was in 2000 when another of her sons, the Weldnaas gelding Astonished, won a second Dash for Brotherton. That was followed a year later by Bishops Court made it three for his lucky owner by landing the race for the second time in a career that yielded 12 wins in total.

Brotherton did try for more success from one of Indigo's daughters, the two-time winner Amused, but had little success.

Indigo, along with Bishops Court and Amazed, lived out her retirement at Brotherton's Pasture House Farm at Whitwell on the Hill until she was put down on the account of her old age.

Brotherton said: "Her progeny have taken me racing to Ireland, Cologne in Germany, in France and it's really just been amazing. I've been very lucky in a way."


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Having never been to the Derby, I found myself standing in the hallowed winner's enclosure which was absolutely unbelievable really
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