Has it really?!…
Today, Perfect Power will attempt to emulate ex-Musley Banker Mayson by winning the Darley July Cup at Newmarket. Ten years on from that famous triumph, we talked to his co-owner Emma Armstrong to learn more about the great horse. Here’s what we uncovered….
What did the victory mean to you and David? And at odds of 20/1, was it an unexpected win?
It was just incredible. Every time he won a big one it was a real ‘pinch yourself’ moment for the both of us. Winning a Group 1 was, and is, the absolute ultimate. That win in 2012 will always be our best date – we can’t believe it’s been ten years since he did it!
And he had progressed – winning the Abernant and Palace House that year, so he was naturally improving. That being said, we never expect to win, but with him, on that day, we were very hopeful of a big run.
When one looks at the horse’s race record and hears the thoughts of his trainer, a word that comes to the fore is patience. Would that be a fair reflection?
Obviously we bred him and so knew every bit there was to know about him. He didn’t have the best start in life – losing his mum at three months old – so that’s why we were keen not to rush him through his career. He did need a bit more time than your typical sprinting type, but we were prepared to give him it. And I think because of the time and manner in which he eventually reached the top table, he was always one that was a very close to our hearts.
It can be a very traumatic and debilitating experience for a foal to lose its mother at a young age. Tell us more about the story and how Mayson handled it.
David had a lot of faith in Mayleaf (Mayson’s dam) given that she was a Pivotal mare. He therefore sent her to the Irish National Stud and the up-and-coming Invincible Spirit for her first covering. She then carried Mayson, foaled him without drama and got herself back in foal to the same sire.
Then one day she just wasn’t right in the field; lethargic and clearly not herself. We brought her in and called the vet out, because we couldn’t fathom what was wrong with her. The vet had a feel inside and told us she wasn’t happy. The mare was then shipped to the equine hospital at the University of Liverpool, where they ran all sorts of tests on her. Mayson was great through all of this; drinking his milk without fail and never once did he act up. Eventually they had to open her up, whilst I held Mayson in a side box in the corner of the room. And unfortunately, that was it – she never came round.
We (my daughters and I) then had to drive him home – a three-month old foal without a mum. We were very small-time breeders then, so had no other colt to pair him with. We had him on milk pellets for the rest of what would have been his pre-weaning stage, before sending him down to Robin Sharp’s place at Houghton Bloodstock, where they had a colt to pair him with. We never bottle fed him or gave him a foster dam because he took the trauma very well and was a naturally strong and intelligent foal.
Can you recall his early days at Musley Bank, and the nature of the feedback you received from Richard and Robin?
David and I were at Musley Bank the morning he arrived from Robin Sharp’s. I remember seeing Richard and Rob’s faces as he first walked off the wagon – they must’ve been thinking ‘my God, what have they brought us here!’ He didn’t look the best shall we say – a bit disappointing in all honesty. However, credit must go to the team down at Houghton because he very quickly turned himself inside out, ate his grub and got on with his work.
And I do remember Mayson’s first piece of fast work. We used to go up to Malton gallops in those days and watch all our two-year-olds’ gallops. I’ll never forget Barry McHugh pulling up after riding him that day and telling us that he was a group horse. We all thought, ‘Barry you daft bugger!’; but to be fair to him, he was absolutely right! I still like to remind him about that morning to this day.
Even then though, he wasn’t one that would take your eye out cantering past – he didn’t stand out in that respect. What he was, right from the start, was a great grafter who loved his work – just like any good workman. He had and does have a ten out of ten temperament and did everything that was ever asked of him.
I then remember his first run at York. He finished second and I was in floods of tears as he came past. Being as hands on as we are, you do become very attached to them – him especially.
Do you often get to see the horse down at Cheveley Park Stud and how do you reflect upon his stallion career to date?
I walk all our mares in myself when they go for their covers; so I’ve always been able to see him when we travel down to Newmarket. And Cheveley have been great – they’ll always accommodate us when we or any of our staff want to go and see him.
In terms of his place in the stallion market; we do feel very disappointed that he has been underrated and overlooked for a number of years. He does represent great value for breeders. Sadly, I think it is like a lot of things in life; people think that if you pay more, you automatically get something better, and that is not always the case.
What chance does Blackrod have in beating Perfect Power on Saturday and giving Mayson a second win in the race as a sire?
It’ll be a big ask for him, but we do think an awful lot of him to be honest. If he could sneak into the placings, we’d be ever so proud. We will be at loggerheads with Richard for a couple of minutes on Saturday afternoon, but we’ll all be friends once they’ve crossed the line whichever ways it goes.
Perfect Power bids to join Mayson in the history books at 4.25pm this afternoon…