Bullet winner adds to dam’s amazing haul

Marie Matthews (second right) with Tangerine Trees at Newmarket

PICTURE: Chris Bourchier Bullet winner adds to dam's amazing haul By Zoe Vicarage 11:24AM 30 AUG 2016

WHEN you consider the connections of Saturday's Beverley Bullet winner Alpha Delphini, his starting price of 13-2 looks generous in hindsight.

Following the victory of his half-brother Tangerine Trees five years ago, Alpha Delphini was providing a second win in the Listed sprint for breeder and part-owner Marie Matthews.

Matthews, a Beverley resident, will be hoping Alpha Delphini continues to follow in his sibling's footsteps, as Tangerine Trees followed his Bullet success with victory in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp on his next outing.

Her connection with the family started with her purchase of the duo's dam Easy To Imagine, a daughter of Cozzene and Coronation Stakes third Zarani Sidi Anna, at Doncaster in 2002.

A lifelong lover of horses who had been involved with racing through shares in a number of horses including the useful winners Croft Imperial, Indian Crystal and Sky Royale, Matthews was on the lookout for a filly to breed from.

"Croft Imperial was a marvellous horse for us and a wonderful two-year-old," Matthews says. "We tried to find him a place at stud but it was during a recession and we weren't successful in doing that.

"It was then that I bought my first filly for mating in the future. I'd been interested in breeding and that's how it began, really."

Offered by Gainsborough Stud as an unraced two-year-old at Doncaster in November, Easy To Imagine was picked up for the bargain sum of 5,200gns.

"I found Easy To Imagine in what I really considered to be the wrong sale, as she was there with a lot of jumping stock," Matthews says. "I bought her at the end of her juvenile year and we then covered her as a three-year-old."

It's rare for a purchase of that price to be a leading light as a broodmare, but what Matthews found was a pot of gold.

From four runners, the 16-year-old mare has produced four winners – the other two being eight-time winner Masai Moon and five-time scorer Galatian.

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Matthews adds: "I can't believe it – she's turned out to be an exceptional mare. I was lucky to buy her for that price and I don't think I'll ever find another one like that.

"There's a bit of skill involved, but to me she's just one of those mares that whoever I send her to, she'll breed a winner."

Matthews' eye for a bargain

Even more remarkable is that the success has stemmed from Matthews selecting stallions who stand at the lower end of the price spectrum – Alpha Delphini is by Captain Gerrard, who stands at Mickley Stud at just £2,750.

During the mare's time in the paddocks all her coverings, up until her visit to Sepoy in 2013, were below the £10,000 mark.

Although Matthews had a budget in mind when selecting stallions for matings, it was her study of pedigrees that helped her decide who to send her mare to.

She says: "I've shown it's actually possible to produce good runners from stallions considered to be lesser lights. I do look at and study the pedigrees very closely, looking at both the male and female lines.

"I consider conformation to be very important. Masai Moon was a nice size, but Tangerine Trees, by Mind Games, was a big horse and very tall.

"Galatian was a massive horse and in a way I've tried to keep the size down a little. It's very difficult finding a small stallion and often the mare can still produce a big foal."

Imagine the future

Easy To Imagine has a yearling filly by Sepoy who has received a timely update ahead of her trip through the ring at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale later this year, and a filly foal by Kuroshio.

"The Sepoy filly is beautiful and one would hope she'll sell well but you never know, do you?" says Matthews. "I think she's the nicest foal the mare has produced.

"I think many people expected Sepoy to make a quicker start than he has done but they're coming out and doing all right now. It's very exciting."

Indeed, just before Alpha Delphini won at Beverley, Matthews' Book 1-bound yearling received another nice update as Kilmah took the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood to become Sepoy's first Group winner.

Easy To Imagine was covered by Casamento earlier this year, but unfortunately is not in foal to the Dalham Hall Stud resident.

While there is plenty more to come from the wonderful mare, Saturday's success was the icing on the cake for Matthews. "It was incredible and it's always special when it's at your local track at their big meeting of the year," she says. "For Alpha to follow in Tangerine's footsteps was amazing."

Alpha Delphini's trainer Bryan Smart said after Saturday's race that the five-year-old would be pitched into Group 3 company next time, with higher targets possible in the future, so there is a chance he could reach the heights of Tangerine Trees.

And with Easy To Imagine's remarkable record of producing foals with the magic combination of speed, class and durability, you wouldn't put it past her to produce another of their ilk. Perhaps it will be the Sepoy filly at Tattersalls.

    Read More at Racing Post Bloodstock

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