Pretty Polly and Australia
I took an interest in the Pretty Polly Stakes while researching the Capricornia Sales. This race has some interesting association with Australian Racing. The association involves Pretty Polly herself, the jockeys, and the pedigree of some of the 2018 field.
Who was Pretty Polly?
Pretty Polly (Gallinule- Admiration) was foaled in Ireland in 1901. As a 2yo she had nine starts and won them all. A 3yo, she won all the Fillies Classics and became only the fifth filly to complete the Fillies Triple Crown. This series commenced in 1814. Her racing career lasted 3 years and numbered 24 Starts, 22 wins and 2 seconds. She won 15 straight races.
At stud, Pretty Polly had seven registered foals. Although none of them achieved much on the racetrack, her four daughters were very successful broodmares and formed the now famous Pretty Polly family. Pretty Polly is the fourth dam of the great sire Donatello ll and the fifth dam of Brigadier Gerard. This horse with a record of 17 wins and a second from 18 starts achieved a timeform rating of 144-equal third with the best in history. Derby winners haven’t escaped the family either. Pretty Polly is the sixth dam of the Epsom Derby winner St Paddy. She has been named as the Matriarch of Family 14-C, the most successful female family in Thoroughbred racing history.
But where does the Aussie connection come in? In 1924, Pretty Polly had her final daughter Baby Polly (Spearmint –Pretty Polly) and Spearmint is a son of the mighty Carbine and he needs no introduction.
The Pretty Polly Stakes
In honour of the great race mare and broodmare, the Pretty Polly Stakes commenced in Ireland in 1948. Originally it was a G2 3yo fillies race over 10f (2012m) but has now been given G1 status and is open to both fillies and mares. For me, 2007 had the most interesting winner, Peeping Fawn (Danehill–Maryinsky). She won 4xG1 before her second in the Epsom Oaks and she is closely related to Rags to Riches (A P Indy-Better than Honour) who was the first filly to win the Belmont Stakes in 100 years. Both mares share the same grandmother, Blush with Pride whose dam is Best in Show. The fillies won their races in 2007.
The 2018 the race had only six runners. Fillies and mares from Australian sires Foxwedge, Fastnet Rock and So You Think. comprised half the field. Urban Fox (Foxwedge-Lomapamar) won easily.
Bill was a great Australian Jockey. He is best known in Australia by his win on Dalray in the 1952 Melbourne Cup and his partnership with the mighty New Zealand champion Rising Fast. He went to Europe in 1960 and had great success. Few people know that he won not one but two Arc de Triomphe and he still holds a record which is unlikely any Australian Jockey is going to match let alone beat. Bill is one of six jockeys that have each won three Pretty Polly Stakes and shares that record with Lester Piggott, Michael Kinane and three others.