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New Zealand breeder's legacy lives on through Polly Grey

In the event that gift horse Polly Grey (NZ) can upset the Zaaki (GB) applecart in Saturday’s $1m, Group 1 XXXX Doomben Cup (2000m) at Doomben, there will be an outpouring of emotion from her New Zealand connections.

The tenacious grey daughter of Azamour was bequeathed to Matamata horsewoman Kylie Fawcett by client Barbara Perry, and the multiple Group Three winner gets a gilt-edged opportunity at the elite level on her preferred rain-affected conditions at Doomben (Heavy 8). 

Upon Perry’s passing, Fawcett elected to withdraw a young Polly Grey from the Karaka yearling sales and race her, and the now seven-year-old will surpass A$1 million in career earnings should she finish in the top-two. 

Initially trained by Fawcett in New Zealand, for whom she won six races, including the Listed Matamata Cup (1600m), Polly Grey was transferred to Chris Waller in April of 2020. 

Now the winner of 11 races, Polly Grey was taking ground off a fresh-up Zaaki last start when second in the Gr.2 Hollindale Cup (1800m) and is an $8 second-favourite behind the $1.50 Zaaki as they enter round two. 

“We were rapt with her run in the Hollindale,” Fawcett said. “To get as close as she did to one of the best horses in Australia was fantastic. 

“Chris is pleased with her. He realises it is a big task to beat Zaaki, but I think the plan is to put her in the race and if she is good enough, she will be there, but no matter what she will try her hardest.”

Polly Grey (NZ) and Tommy Berry winning at Gosford, picture Stevehart.com.au

Fawcett races the mare with her partner Rob Joyce and her brother Brook, while John and Margaret Thompson bought a half-share in Polly Grey last year. 

“Every time she wins or runs a fantastic race, the first thing we do is do a little toast to Barbara Perry. We are so grateful to have her,” Fawcett said. 

“When Barbara passed away she left me Polly Grey and a few of her other mares. 

“She was actually entered for the yearling sales but I decided to withdraw her and keep her for sentimental reasons and I have always liked that line that Barbara had developed. 

“She put a lot of faith into them and it was my way of keeping part of her legacy. I always loved Polly Grey as a yearling and I just thought this is a really good family and with a bit of time, who knows what you could end up with.

“We sent her to Chris Waller around that COVID time and I just felt that I needed to give her that opportunity over there. 

“I didn’t send her over there with expectations that we would be running in Group One races. I just thought the stake money is so good across the board, it was the best decision to make for myself and the other owners.”

Despite having a tentative booking to Darley stallion Too Darn Hot this spring, there is a chance that the matron’s paddock could be shelved for Polly Grey again this season, with the mare racing in outstanding form. 

“It’s a hell of a ride and everyone is getting so much enjoyment out of racing her,” Fawcett said.

“When we breed from her, we are breeding to race, so we are not perturbed about her being an older mare and trying to sell yearlings out of her. 

“We just hope she runs really well on Saturday and pulls up safely. If she did topple Zaaki, that would be amazing, but having an opportunity in a Group One race in these (heavy) conditions gives her the best chance at this level. 

“It would just make me so proud and sad at the same time. This is the best horse that Barbara, who was so passionate about her breeding, had bred and she didn’t get to be a part of it unfortunately. 

“It would be very much a case of mixed emotions should she win.” 

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