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A romantic Yearning in the Thousand Guineas - Jessica Owers TDN AusNZ

Oaks-winning race mare Rising Romance (NZ) (Ekraar {USA}) has produced a G1 Thousand Guineas winner from her very first foal, the win of Yearning a rousing result on Wednesday for both Arrowfield Stud and bloodstock agent Andrew Williams.

In the familiar silks of Arrowfield Stud on Wednesday, 3-year-old filly Yearning (Snitzel) wrote herself into blueblood history with a gallant win in the G1 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield. In doing so, she followed in the elite footsteps of her dam, the New Zealand-bred G1 Australian Oaks winner Rising Romance (NZ) (Ekraar {USA}).

Yearning won the Thousand Guineas by 1l to Elusive Express (NZ) (Jakkalberry {Ire}), but the manner of her victory was impressive.

Coolly ridden at the back of the field by jockey Damien Thornton, the filly came from last to first down the Caulfield straight to land the race at a starting price of $26.

She jumped squarely with the field from barrier seven before settling back, with the race’s early speed set by Queen Of Dubai (Pride Of Dubai) and Swift Witness (Star Witness). Into the first turn, Yearning was last of the 13 horses.

Yearning winning the G1 Thousand Guineas, with Elusive Express in second

The order of things didn’t change for much of the race, but at the top of the straight Thornton brought the filly widest, and by the 200 metres she was in the fray. Yearning galloped with Elusive Express all the way to the 50 metre mark before pulling away.

The final margins were 1l and 2.75l to third-placed Barb Raider (Rebel Raider), with a time of 1:37.54 for the mile on a Good 4.

Price, pedigree vindicated

Yearning is trained by the Hawkes team at Flemington, and Wayne Hawkes was trackside at Caulfield to cheer his filly home.

“When you buy these high-class fillies with the big pedigrees, you know the owners have put in a lot of money,” the trainer said. “The pedigree is already there with this filly, but gee whiz, I was just talking to two of my staff there about what she’s worth if she wins.”

Hawkes said there was no doubt that Yearning was worth plenty in the wake of her win, but he also admitted there was a sweetness to a big win when the pedigree was this good.

“It’s good for those expensive horses to win,” he said. “There’s a lot of owners out there who buy at the top end, and a lot of the top-end ones don’t actually make the grade, so it’s nice to nail a good one.”

Damien Thornton admitted that the ride didn’t initially go to plan, but Hawkes was full of praise nevertheless.

“It was a good ride,” he said. “Zouzarella was one of the ones to beat, and she was back out there, and all of a sudden we jumped well but we were back last. But Damien didn’t panic and, to be fair, a lot of them (jockeys) would have panicked.”

Hawkes thanked the ownership team behind Yearning for giving him the chance to handle the filly, and he spared a thought for one, in particular.

“John Messara will be sitting up there at Arrowfield and he would have gone nuts, I reckon, on the couch,” Hawkes said.

Game, set, match

Yearning headed into the Thousand Guineas on Wednesday with six races behind her, four of those this preparation.

She won a Newcastle maiden in mid-September, and then was second in the G2 Edward Manifold S. to Elusive Express last time out. Her trainers opted out of starting her in the G1 Flight S., and Hawkes said the filly was likely to press on from Wednesday.

“We just wanted to see how’d she run today,” he said. “Mum’s an Oaks winner, so I don’t know. These are good decisions to go home and think about. You know the stock standard line, we’ll go home and see how she pulls up.

“But the truth of the matter is she’s done now. Whatever she does here on in is a bonus for all the owners. It’s game, set and match, and a good position to be in.”

The pick of the fillies

While the Guineas result was a spectacular return for Arrowfield Stud, who has Yearning in its colours and her dam in its paddocks, the obvious charm of Wednesday’s result is with bloodstock agent Andrew Williams.

Williams is involved with the first two horses over the line, and there was a point when he had to switch the theme of his cheering.

“I was a bit all over the show,” he said. “I didn’t know which one to cheer for at one stage. You just want the connections of both to go so well, but all in all, just to have two runners in the race was quite special. It was one of those days where you have butterflies in your stomach when you wake up, but that’s why we’re in racing, isn’t it?”

Yearning was initially pointed at the 2020 Inglis Easter Sale, the valuable first foal from terrific race mare Rising Romance. But that Sale was the very first to be affected by COVID-19, and she was withdrawn by Arrowfield amid all the uncertainty.

“Arrowfield ended up retaining a few of these fillies, and I approached John Messara and Jon Freyer,” Williams said. “She was by far the pick of the fillies, and I asked if we could work something out.

"They gave me the price and I said, ‘please, I’ll take half of it and sell it to this man here, but can I have 60 days?’ At 59 days, unfortunately my buyer said he couldn’t do it because of the uncertainty with COVID.”

Racing is full of stories like this, tales of the horse that was passed up, but Williams said he felt for his initial buyer in the wake of Wednesday’s result.

The bloodstock agent ended up scratching around to sell his half of Yearning, and he had a degree of trouble in the climate of an emerging pandemic.

Andrew Williams & partner Lily France

“I ended up putting her to a dozen people, but it’s hard to sell sometimes,” Williams said. “I put her to my accountant, and bless him, he was very good in supporting me. And then I ended up retaining a piece of her.

"Even my mum thought she might have 25 per cent in her at one stage. I’d say that 25 per cent is probably worth a million bucks now, so she’ll be kicking herself.”

The Hussonet cross

Williams had managed to inspect Yearning as a yearling filly in the months leading to her initial entry in the Inglis Easter Sale. He loved what he saw.

“We were very quick to realise she was as good as she is now, a Thousand Guineas winner,” Williams said. “She was a horse that was extremely hard to fault in every which way. Arrowfield was one of the last farms we’d visited in that year, so when we turned up we saw her, and she was so good she was obvious.”

Williams thinks that had she made the Sale, Yearning would have easily climbed to seven figures.

“I genuinely thought she was a million-dollar filly,” he said. “She could have made double that if it had been a normal Easter. She was a very, very good first foal from a very, very good mare and by a Champion Sire.”

The family continued to blossomed after Yearning was withdrawn from Easter.

Her full brother, now named Magic, was sold to Hawkes Racing at this year’s Inglis Easter Sale, topping proceedings with a $2.5 million pricetag from the Arrowfield draft. It was an enormous leap of faith by the Hawkes team, who had the unraced Yearning in its stable.

“I’m very grateful to have a share in that horse too,” Williams said. “He’s off to the paddock after a good couple of education trials, and we’ll just bring on the autumn with him. Let’s hope he’s as good as her.”

Williams said his infatuation with this family isn’t necessarily based on the obvious.

“Yearning is obviously from a classy mare, but it’s that same cross with Ekraar (the sire of Rising Romance) who is a full brother to Hussonet,” he said. “That Redoute’s Choice-Hussonet cross is the best cross down here, so it’s a very smart mating from Arrowfield and you can’t beat those New Zealand mares. They’re tough as nails.”


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