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Friday, 14 December, 2018

The flying grey filly who cost just a grand: Portman pays tribute to Mrs Danvers

Trainer Jonathan Portman (right) greets Mrs Danvers and Richard Kingscote after the Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket
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Mrs Danvers, the bargain basement filly whose unbeaten two-year-old season in 2016 included winning the valuable Weatherbys Super Sprint and a defeat of Battaash in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes, has been retired to her breeders, Connie and Mark Burton. 

Trainer Jonathan Portman described the flying grey filly as "very hard to replace".

The daughter of Hellvelyn, who was bought back at sale for just £1,000, gained a big public following during her winning spree but, having been restricted to a single start at three by an injury incurred at Chantilly last April, Mrs Danvers raced for the final time when finishing down the field at Bath last month. 

"Her achievements didn't go unnoticed as she was awarded the Racehorse Owners Special Achievement trophy for that year and featured on the main ITV News At Ten," said Portman on Thursday. 

"Everybody loves a grey filly but her rags to riches story gave her journey special appeal to so many."

Mrs Danvers came to prominence with her win in the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury in July 2016

Mrs Danvers first came to public attention when completing a hat-trick in the Super Sprint but any thought that she had profited merely from the featherweight allocated to her on account of her lowly price tag was soon dismissed as she returned to Newbury for a Listed success the following month. 

Portman believes her win in the Cornwallis proved her toughness as well as her class.

Click here to watch the final win of Mrs Danvers, a demolition job in the Cornwallis Stakes

He said: "It was her final win which was her toughest, as she broke a long-standing course record and raced on a track and surface she didn't enjoy yet she toughed it out, beating subsequent Group 1 winner Battaash in the process."

Recalling her unpromising origins – only two trainers from 20 contacted by the Burtons showed any interest in leasing her to race – Portman said: "She was marched off to the Ascot Sale to test the market and qualify her for auction races.

"It took just one bid, such was the lack of interest in her, to bring her back to the yard at £1,000. She was then offered to the 110-strong Turf Club syndicate for lease and the rest is history."

Mrs Danvers beats Clem Fandango (white face) and Battaash (left)

Portman may now be facing up to life without his stable star but he has made a fine start to the campaign, having notched 10 winners to date. Not bad considering last year's tally of 15.

"To hit double figures by May is tremendous for us and long may it continue," said Portman. "We’d love to find another Mrs Danvers and she will be very hard to replace. I just hope before too long that another one lands on our doorstep."

If you are interested in this story, take a look at this piece written by Julian Muscat after Mrs Danvers burst on to the scene: calculated gamble pays off in fine style for perspicacious Portman


Her achievements didn't go unnoticed as she was awarded the Racehorse Owners Special Achievement trophy for that year and featured on ITV News
E.W. Terms
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