Sporting legends Botham and Edwards eye Classic glory with Dan's Dream
A spinal charity could reap a £315,000 windfall this weekend after the owners of Dan's Dream on Monday paid £30,000 to supplement the filly for the Qipco 1,000 Guineas.
Under the terms of an auction to secure a two-year share in the filly with cricket legend Sir Ian Botham and rugby great Sir Gareth Edwards, all prize-money earned goes to the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation, which funds research into finding a cure for paralysis.
There was little expectation she would develop into a Classic contender but after two wins this year, the latest in the Fred Darling Stakes, part-owner and breeder Steven Smith made her one of two additions to Sunday's Classic.
Soliloquy, the Godolphin filly who landed the Nell Gwyn Stakes, was the other supplementary entry as 18 horses stood their ground. Aidan O'Brien has five left in the race, including favourite Happily but not second favourite September.
Smith, who owns Hunscote Stud in Warwickshire, consulted the charity before reaching a decision to run Dan's Dream with champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa in the saddle.
"In the end it was an easy decision because the charity could not supplement under its rules, so we had to make the decision ourselves," said Smith. "For the benefit of the horse, the stud and its mare we decided to do it, which made sense. It's win-win, so we have no regrets whatsoever.
"This cause is relevant to the sport as most of the serious injuries are spinal. It's a good opportunity for the charity to get a higher profile. Dan's Dream was our first runner in a Group race and will be our first runner in a Classic."
Dan's Dream, a top-priced 16-1, was named after Dan Nicholls, who became paralysed from the neck down aged 18. He broke his neck when he dived into a wave and hit a hidden sandbank at Bondi Beach in Australia. His father David Nicholls founded the charity, having promised to do everything possible to get Dan and others walking again.
Smith became involved with the charity after being told he would never walk again when he broke his back jumping out of a first-floor window into a ravine fleeing armed burglars who broke into his holiday home in France seven years ago. Last year he completed the London Marathon with the aid of a stick.
Dan's Dream, whose Fred Darling success was the high point of a prolific start to the campaign for trainer Mick Channon, has won at five and a half furlongs and seven furlongs but will be trying a mile for the first time on Sunday in a race with a first prize of £315,000.
"She stayed the trip easily at Newbury, where the time was the same as the James Garfield race," said Smith. "It's raining in Newmarket today and it will do tomorrow and again on Wednesday. My only concern would be whether that would make it into a stamina test.
"As Mick says, she's a bit of a freak because she seems to go longer trips but doesn't lose her speed. If she turns up and has a clear run it will take good horses to beat her. It's lovely to have a live chance."
Channon is hoping the filly can end his run of bad luck in the Classic. Queen's Logic was scratched on the day of the race when favourite in 2002, Nahoodh got no run when fifth in 2008 and Music Show finished first on the wrong side of the track but sixth overall in 2010.
"We have been a bit unlucky," he said. "Nahoodh should have won it and we've been on the wrong side in the past. The course is not half as wide as it used to be. We think Dan's Dream is a very good filly and I think she goes there with a great chance."
Sporting legends Botham and Edwards were invited to become involved in the filly by Andy Lloyd, the former Warwickshire and England cricketer who is Hunscote's stud manager, as a prize at a sporting dinner where the share was knocked down to businessmen Fred Watt and Simon Peckham.
Edwards said: "I've only had a passing interest in racing but when Andy gave me a shout it sounded good and for a good cause, so I thought I would support it from a charity point of view.
"I've known Mick for a long time, going back to when he played football and we would meet up for A Question Of Sport. We were absolutely delighted to see how well Dan's Dream ran in her first couple of races. I'm hoping to get along. I would love to see her run."