IT may have only been a maiden race at Te Rapa, but the win of debutante Capucine is sure to be celebrated as far away as France.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Capucine is a three-quarter sister to the great galloper So You Think and picked up its name through the journey which surrounded So You Think’s bid on the 2011 Group One Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.
So You Think finished a gallant fourth to Danedream in the French feature, but memories of that trip have remained with co-breeder Mike Moran, particularly the assistance shown to him and his group of So You Think fans by Capucine Houel, from the French Racing and Breeding Committee.
“That’s how we named the mare – after Capucine,” Moran said.
“I first met her when I was at Royal Ascot (when So You Think won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes) and she told us if we came to the Arc she’d look after us.
“She kept her word. There was a group of us and she did an unbelievable job, taking us to studs and really looking after us. She organised everything for us. She was part of the So You Think journey.”
Moran, Windsor Park Stud’s marketing manager, told Houel he would name one of So You Think’s relatives after her and he kept his word with the daughter of High Chaparral and La Souvenir.
Moran, his wife Helen, and close friends Chris and Carol Chamberlain, bred last Sunday’s winner from their mare La Souvenir, who is a half-sister to So You Think by Nuclear Freeze, a little-known brother to champion sire Danehill.
La Souvenir is the only New Zealand winner by Nuclear Freeze, who stood in Australia where he left 148 winners.
“Capucine Houel actually came over and stayed a few days with us a couple of years ago after the Sydney Sales and got to see the filly named after her,” Moran said.
During that time no doubt there was plenty of reminiscing over the exploits of So You Think and the wonderful journey on which he took Moran and his other followers.
“We followed him around Europe and over in Australia,” Moran said.
“I was there when he won his two Cox Plates. It was a great ride and making it a bit more special in Australia was the fact I had worked for Bart Cummings (So You Think’s Australian trainer).”
So You Think won 14 races, including ten at group one level, spread around England, Ireland and Australia, and Moran is still following the fortunes of So You Think as an international sire.
“It’s funny how it works out,” Moran said. “So You Think won his first start, his dam, Triassic, won her first start, and so did La Souvenir. And now Capucine has won her first start, too.”
However, it has called on the patience of the Morans and Chamberlains to wait for that debut outing by Capucine now as a five-year-old.
She was originally with Cambridge trainer Alex Oliveira to be pre-trained for the Baker – Forsman stable and was third in her first trial as a late three-year-old then pulled a muscle. She then won her next trial, at Te Awamutu, later that year before undergoing an operation to remove bone chips.
Once recovered from the operation, Capucine was sent to Baker and Forsman and won at the Cambridge trials last month. But since then wet weather and wide draws have seen her raceday debut delayed until last Sunday.
“We knew she had ability and we just had to wait,” Moran said. “She’d won a jump-out on the course proper at Cambridge as well as the trial last month.”
Ridden by Matt Cameron, Capucine began well in its Te Rapa engagement and was allowed to settle midfield. The horse was into the clear early in the run home and unleashed a good finish to hit the front 100m out then had to withstand an impressive late charge from the runner-up Heat Seeker, from Janenne Daley’s stable.
“She was a bit green and there’s a lot of improvement in her,” Forsman said.
“She’s a gross mare who holds a lot of condition and had a good blow after the race.”
As a winner, Capucine has already added to its value as a potential broodmare and will eventually join a couple of other So You Think relatives owned by the Morans.