Day At The Track

Spanish Armada retired

09:00 AM 16 Jul 2017 NZST
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Spanish Armada, Allstars Photo.jpg

She was something of an "Ugly duckling" as a youngster. Rather plain in appearance to the casual eye and even after starting racing she carried more than her share of gear which didn't making flattering photographs easy.

But she would  become the ultimate Swan among fillies of her era. 

Natalie Rasmussen has driven a lot of stars over the years and is not easily moved to overrate their achievements. But she had a special regard for "Maddy"and always considered her underrated even in spite of that wonderful record.

"A lot of people perhaps regarded her as a staying filly but she can sprint with any of them. There isn't anything she can't do. You can have her anywhere in a field and still have confidence. There aren't many fillies who give you that feeling  every time they go out"

Spanish Armada's luck finally ran out, but fortunately not on the racetrack. Injured on arrival in Sydney for the Queensland Oaks and the Breeder's Crown, races she went for because she was so well after the Jewels win, it was found the injury  to be a fracture which would have her off the scene for a long time.

She would likely have missed all of her four year old career and Jean Feiss, the original owner of the filly who sold  the breeding rights career to Spanish Armada late last year, decided to relinquish her lease to a Southland owner.

Jean, a buyer rather than a breeder because she no longer has a suitable property for the latter , has had a wonderful return for her investment.

She bought Spanish Armada for $75,000 at the PGG Wrightson Sales and won 10 times that amount over two seasons-by any measure a good day's work.

Some highlights of "Maddy" s career

*She won first up in Auckland with Philip Butcher in the cart -one of two wins Philip scored with the filly. He also won her third race.

*At just her third start she won the Delightful Lady (G2) and at her fifth, sixth and seventh starts she won the Caduceus Club (G1) the Sires Stakes Final (G1) and the PGG Sales Final. She won six of 8 starts and was the Filly of the Year

*She was only beaten twice as a three year old in a Sires Stakes Heat and the Pascoe Northern Oaks won by stablemate Partyon. Her win included the Sires Stakes Final (G1) Caduceus Ladyship Stakes (G2) the PGG Sales Final, a heat and the final (G1) of the Nevele R Filly Series, the New Zealand Oaks (G1) and the Harness Jewels (G1).

Even by All Stars standards that is one stunning record. And all that time Natalie and Mark were stripping back those gear additions. 

What is more while Natalie wouldn't admit excuses, as usual, Spanish Armada certainly had them for the ONLY TWO TIMES she was beaten in a Group One race, both times by the super talented stablemate Partyon.

In the 2016 Jewels Spanish Armada drew 10 over the mile and had to come from a long way back, always difficult at Cambridge. Meanwhile Mark was cleverly judging a moderate (by Jewels standard) pace in the middle stages  with Partyon before sprinting home in 27 and change. In the circumstances Maddy's third was a huge effort.

In the Pascoe Oaks this year, Spanish Armada also drew badly and dropped back to last. 10 lengths from the leaders on settling, she  was three wide in the middle stages then parked. After all that she couldn't quite hold out pacemaker Partyon.

The Spanish Armada magic might not have fallen far from the tree so to speak.  Her full brother fetched $140,000 at this year's Sales being bought by Barry Purdon  and owned by Woodlands.  Hardly surprising since Barry won well over $300,000 with a closely related filly Cheer The Lady a New Zealand Oaks winner herself and a three quarter sister to Maddy.

But that colt will have to be very good to have a better record than Spanish Armada.Fillies like this don't come along often. All honour to her achievements.

Courtesy of All Stars Stables

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