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Champions Series Stars To Stud: Winter

27 Dec 2017

In the latest of our series we focus on the filly who reeled off four successive Group 1 triumphs in the summer of 2017

Winter and Moore stride home in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. Picture:

Career details:

Winter developed into one of the unexpected stars of the 2017 season – reeling off four successive Group 1 victories.

The grey daughter of Galileo was on few radars at the start of the season as she needed three attempts to get off the mark as a two-year-old when trained by David Wachman.

When Wachman retired, Winter was transferred to the stable of Aidan O’Brien and she started promisingly enough when beaten a head by Hydrangea in a Group 3 event over 7f at Leopardstown in early April. Little did we know at the time how well the form would work out.

Winter arrived at the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket the following month still a maiden on turf but she was a well-supported 9-1 chance under Wayne Lordan and won in decisive style from her stablemate, Rhododendron, the 5-4 stablemate.

Any notion that was a fluke was dispelled when she followed up with a runaway win in the Irish equivalent three weeks later and then Winter scooped the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, albeit in not so striking style.

Given a short break, she extended her winning spree in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood – being workmanlike in the soft ground upped to a mile and a quarter.

It was to be her final success. Next time, having reportedly missed some work in the build-up, she was beaten a head in the Matron Stakes by old rival Hydrangea – who she had finished ahead of in her previous four clashes.

On her final start, she was stepped up to a mile and a half for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but the trip looked beyond her and she faded to finish ninth.

In total, she won five of her ten races and accumulated almost £1.1 million in prize money. She was never rated higher than 119, the same figure that Hydrangea ended the campaign with.

Career highlight:

Her breakthrough Group 1 triumph is the QIPCO 1000 Guineas established her as something out of the ordinary.

In the weeks before the fillies’ Classic she had languished among the 33-1 outsiders but sustained support meant she went off at 9-1 – even though Rhododendron, the mount of Ryan Moore, was considered the principal hope for Aidan O’Brien.

Never far off the pace in the 14-runner field, Winter travelled powerfully and never looked like surrendering the lead after hitting the front two out.

Rhododendron kept on to be beaten two lengths after meeting some interference but Winter was a very worthy winner and went on to prove it was no fluke.

What they said:

After her fourth Group 1 win, in the Nassau Stakes, Aidan O’Brien said: “I was holding my breath all the way, because she was keen in Ryan’s hands to start with, and he did a great job to relax her.

“I knew he was going to wait, but when you get to the final two furlongs in that ground you don’t know what’s going to happen. She’s just very classy.

“She’s made the transformation from the first half into the second half of the season, and she’s won well on the ground, which is like winter jumping ground. It’s a different level of fitness you need for it, but she’s obviously very good.”

After the Coronation Stakes, Ryan Moore said: “She’s come a long way in a very short space of time. She travelled beautifully through the race and is getting very professional – just doing what she has to do.

“It is hard thing to do, win two Guineas and then come here. Attraction was the last to do it and it is very hard. She is a very good filly and has beaten some good horses from France and America. It’s a strong piece of form and she is a high-class.”

Where she will stand:

Winter will become an exciting new addition to Coolmore Stud, in Fethard, County Tipperary in Ireland – the headquarters of the world’s largest breeding operation.

Situated in the heart of the Golden Vale on over 7,000 prime acres of Ireland’s finest limestone land, Coolmore provides the ideal environment for breeding and raising thoroughbreds.

Originally inherited by Battle of Britain flying ace Tim Vigors in 1945, what was to become Coolmore Stud started out as a small agricultural farm.

John Magnier in conjunction with his late father-in-law, legendary trainer Vincent O’Brien, and Robert Sangster took over the 350-acre existing farm from Vigors in 1975 with the objective of creating a world class thoroughbred stallion operation.

Today, Coolmore is celebrated as a world-class thoroughbred stud farm which has a long list of champions on its past and present rosters. Winter’s own superstar sire, Galileo, is of course among the sires who stand there.

What should we expect from her offspring?:

The answer will perhaps be clearer once it becomes known who Winter is to be covered by.

She showed herself to be a top-notch performer at up to a mile and a quarter, clearly inheriting the stamina of Galileo, her Derby-winning sire, because her dam, Laddies Poker Two, out of crack Australian sprinter Choisir, had the distinction of breaking the track track record when winning the Wokingham on her fifth and final start.

Winter herself had plenty of speed and was effective on ground ranging between good to firm and heavy. It will be fascinating to see how our offspring fare.