Racing is a sport with few boundaries but history was made at Newmarket on Saturday when twin sisters with a combined age of 186 were in the winner’s enclosure toasting a Group One triumph.
“I’ve never enjoyed a race more. It was fantastic,” said 93-year-old Evie Stockwell, the mother of Coolmore supremo John Magnier, after Fairyland, trained by Aidan O’Brien, had carried her colours to victory in the Cheveley Park Stakes to fuel dreams of Qipco 1,000 Guineas glory back at the Rowley Mile in May.
By her side was her twin sister, Lady Mimi Manton, plus her daughter, Anne O’Callaghan, who bred the attractive and willing young filly.
O’Callaghan was content to take a backseat and watch the celebratory scenes unfold in front of her.
“It’s her day and when you get to that age you are entitled to enjoy it,” O’Callaghan said as her mother received kisses and congratulations from such as John Warren, the Queen’s racing representative, and Lord Grimthorpe, chairman of York racecourse and racing manager for Prince Khalid Abdullah..
“We came over last night for today and it will be a short trip home, that’s for sure.”
Kodiac, the sire of Fairyland, and Queenofthefairies, her dam, both reside at Tally-Ho Stud, in Lough Ennell in Co Westmeath, which O’Callaghan runs with her husband, Tony.
Remarkably, The Mackem Bullet, the neck runner-up, was also bred at Tally-Ho. She and Fairyland had fought out a similar battle in the Lowther Stakes at York with the same result.
Asked about her own emotions as the two fillies fought out the finish - just as they had in the Lowther at York last month - she said: “I’ve aged ten years. I will be on the pills tomorrow.”
Watch Lydia Hislop's interview with Aidan O'Brien on his three winners at Newmarket.
With regard to Fairyland’s 1,000 Guineas prospects, she added: “She has plenty of size about her and done everything that’s been asked.
“We have to leave [the decision to run in the Guineas or not] up to the trainer and owners. We just watch from the sidelines and wave the flag. Hopefully, we will be here again in May.”
Fairyland is also part-owned by two relative youngsters in Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith. The former guided Stockwell gently to the winner’s enclosure and will need little convincing to press ahead with a tilt at the first Classic of next season.
O’Brien did not dismiss Guineas talk but stressed “she’s not short of speed”. Most firms make Fairyland 14-1 for the Guineas in a muddled market where no potential candidate is quoted short than a double-figure price.
The feature races on the card were dominated by O’Brien, whose stable is clearly over the health problems that affected it during the summer, plus his son, Donnacha, who enjoyed a glittering treble.
The latter had to dig deep to repel market rival Jash, who was also unbeaten going into the race. The pair stamped their class on proceedings by drawing clear of the remainder.
It seems likely both are potential top-notchers for next year, although speed looks Ten Sovereigns’ main forte and a best price of 8-1 for him landing the 2,000 Guineas looks skinny enough. Sprinting may just be his forte.
Simon Crisford, the trainer of Jash, was delighted with his colt and predicted he would turn the tables on the winner should they clash again over a mile next year.
Crisford was also responsible for the Cambridgeshire runner-up, Mordin, and will have returned home feeling a mix of pride and frustration.
At just 54, he at least has plenty of time on his side.