It’s all about the girls…and Christine

When Faraway Town crossed the line in sixth position in this year’s Jeep Magic Millions 2YO Classic, her group of eight female owners stood quietly together in the mounting yard proud of the way their filly finished off the race after being slow out of the barriers.

It took about 60 seconds for that group of owners to ascertain that despite finishing sixth, 4.9 lengths from the race winner, Faraway Town was the first horse home of five Magic Millions Racing Women’s Bonus eligible horses to contest the race.

There were screams of delight and disbelief, there were hugs and huge celebrations as the excited ladies collected the $325,000 first place Racing Women’s Bonus in addition to race prizemoney of $10,000. It was perhaps the most joyous response for finishing sixth ever seen on a racetrack.


ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT


2016 was the fourth running of the Racing Women’s Bonus, the brainchild of Magic Millions co-owner Katie Page-Harvey. The initiative continues to flourish with a record 165 two-year-olds registered as targeting the Bonus in 2017, an increase of over 32% from the previous year – which at the time was also a record number of registrations.

Faraway Town’s managing owner Christine Cook has raced horses for over 20 years with her husband Francis Cook including part-ownership in Group One winners Preferment, Foreteller and Moriarty. However it was the launch of the Magic Millions Racing Women’s initiative that provided Cook with the inspiration that she could also race horses without her husband.

“What Katie [Page-Harvey] has done for women in racing is just brilliant. To see the success in the first year with the all-female owned horse also winning the race – it was the first time you saw women front and centre in a major race. Women are not just the handbags or the wife,” Christine Cook explains.

The Cooks’ first foray into ownership resulted in the winner of the 1993 Gimcrack Stakes, a filly called Warning Siren, who aptly won the race on protest. Since that time racehorse ownership has become part of their lives, regularly purchasing two to three inexpensive yearlings per year.

“Once you get started, you chase the inevitable dream,” Cook reveals.

Racing Women

PHOTOS: Supplied by Magic Millions Magazine

Based on NSW’s Central Coast, Christine Cook has been attending the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale with her husband most years since the late 1990s. After watching the first few years of the Racing Women initiative, she decided to get involved. For the first time she signed the docket when purchasing yearlings.

According to Cook, initiatives such as Racing Women not only inspire participation from new owners but it also takes the mystery out of owning racehorses which can often seem daunting and overwhelming.

“It’s not about buying the most expensive horse and guaranteeing success, it’s about the fact that you can buy at any price and experience the many facets that are involved in getting it to the track. Many people don’t appreciate how much work goes into getting a horse to the races,” Cook tells.

Prepared by Warwick Farm based trainer Matthew Smith, Faraway Town is raced by Christine Cook with a group of ladies she met through racing another horse with Smith called Zin Zan Eddie, including Melissa Smith, Matthew’s wife, plus two new clients that the trainer introduced to the female syndicate.

Pleasingly, all of Faraway Town’s owners have reinvested in racehorse ownership.

To cap off an incredible two-year-old season, the daughter of Not a Single Doubt added a significant Group One placing to her pedigree by running third in ATC Sires’ Produce behind Yankee Rose. The filly recently resumed her three-year-old campaign with a third placing in the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes at Randwick.

However Faraway Town is not the only Racing Women success story for Cook. She is also one of 11 female owners of the Group Two Furious Stakes and Group Two Tea Rose Stakes winner Foxplay.

Syndicated by Denise Martin’s Star Thoroughbreds and trained by Chris Waller, Foxplay was registered for the Racing Women’s initiative but unfortunately did not make it to the Magic Millions after being a “very naughty 2YO” according to Cook.

Proving there is still a lot of enjoyment to be had even if your horse doesn’t get to the Magic Millions 2YO, Foxplay was crowned winner of the 2016 ATC Princess Series with victories in two Group Two races this Spring, prior to a gallant fourth in the Group One Thousand Guineas.

“I cried when Foxplay won the Furious Stakes. I was so nervous,” Cook says.

Another Magic Millions Racing Women registered horse which did not make this year’s 2YO Classic is possibly one of the most remarkable ownership stories in racing.

The now three-year-old Global Glamour is raced by 33 women from around the globe under the banner of It’s All About The Girls syndicate. Already a dual Group One winner in just five starts, the fairy tale continues for the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained filly after back to back elite triumphs in the Flight Stakes and Thousand Guineas.

The sole motivation behind the purchase of Global Glamour from the Gold Coast Yearling Sale in 2015 was the Magic Millions Racing Women’s program.

The Bonus motivated two female international bloodstock auction-house representatives in Anna Seitz (Fasig Tipton, USA) and Elaine Lawlor (Goffs, Ireland) to get involved and purchase a yearling with the advice of bloodstock agent James Bester, to attract female owners worldwide. The ownership includes prominent women from the USA, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Malaysia and Australia.

News of the filly’s first Group One win made world racing headlines, even on Arc Day in France. Not quitting whilst they are ahead, the It’s All About The Girls syndicate purchased another filly earlier this year to target at the 2017 Bonus – named Invincible Glamour.

Also participating in the Racing Women’s Bonus for 2017 is Christine Cook. She is involved in three all-female syndicates racing fillies, two by Faraway Town’s sire Not a Single Doubt and another by first season sire Pierro.

From the 1990s to the current day, Christine Cook has seen an extraordinary change in the acceptance of women in the industry via initiatives such as Racing Women. She believes women are integral to the sustainability of racing.

“We have female trainers, female jockeys, female racing administrators, female racing journalists. There is no reason women should not be comfortable buying horses. There is not a place in racing that women can’t be,” Cook asserts.

On Saturday 14 January 2017, could it literally be ladies day with Faraway Town versus Foxplay versus Global Glamour in the $2 million Gold Coast Magic Millions 3YO Guineas? You can bet on it.

This article was authored by Cassandra Simmonds and originally appeared in 2017 Magic Millions Magazine. It has been republished with permission.