Bobby Zen

ASCOT, UK — Back she came. A star on the rise this day last year and now one fully ascended to the highest grade possible. Porta Fortuna (Ire) (Caravaggio) has truly been a lucky charm for her syndicate of American owners, who bought her after she had made just once successful start in the colours of her co-breeder, Annemarie O’Brien. Two starts later she won the G3 Albany Stakes, and now she is a winner at Royal Ascot once more in the G1 Coronation Stakes. 

For Philip Shelton, who manages Medallion Racing, one of the four different ownership entities in the Donnacha O’Brien-trained filly, this was a culmination of what he set out to do in encouraging partners to hop on board to race the best horses in the best company. 

“My heart rate is still about 180,” he said. “It is impossible to describe the feeling. I am so happy because we have partners who have never been here. We had a group here last year and some different guys here this year, and they get to see what it’s all about.”

Shelton was advised in his initial investment in Porta Fortuna by Mark McStay, and his group co-owns her with Dean Reeves, Steve Weston and Barry Fowler. The latter was the only one of the quartet not to have travelled to Ascot, but a group of 16 owners had made the pilgrimage and were royally rewarded, not least in meeting the King, who presented the Coronation Stakes trophies.

He continued, “Our goal is to bring people to the highest level and there is no higher level than this. It’s just a testament to Donnacha and his team, and Tom [Marquand] gave her a great ride. And this filly: she breaks, she travels, she quickens, she tries. Everything you want in a racehorse, she does it.”

Highly tried last year, Porta Fortuna didn’t miss a beat, with two Group 1 placings before notching one of her own in the Cheveley Park Stakes and then running a close second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Returning in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, she was only a neck behind the winner Elmalka (GB) at the line, and she reversed that form emphatically back at Ascot. 

Shelton said, “She had a hardy two-year-old campaign and I wasn’t sure she was going to train on. I got to see her in March and physically she looked a different horse, and I thought if you just go by how she looks physically, she is going to be better again this year. And again, testament to Donnacha, because that’s come true.”

Beaming away in the winner’s enclosure along with the happy owners were Annemarie and Ana O’Brien, no doubt proud in equal measures of Donnacha’s achievement and that of the filly they bred under their Whisperview banner. And Porta Fortuna is not the only graduate of their farm to have struck in group company at Royal Ascot this week, as the O’Briens also bred Thursday’s G2 Ribblesdale Stakes winner Port Fairy (Ire) (Australia {GB}).

The winning trainer’s sister, Ana O’Brien, who manages the family stud, said, “To even have a runner here is unbelievable, so to have two winners as a breeder is something you don’t expect.”

Porta Fortuna’s dam Too Precious (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}) was bought by Ana for €11,500 at the Goffs November Sale and has subsequently been sold, but she added, “We have some of the family still. Porta Fortuna has been so consistent her whole career, she really is a great filly. 

“It’s brilliant for her owners, and for them to leave her with Donnacha has been great for him. He has done an amazing job with her.”

And despite the wider O’Brien family’s regular success at the highest level, does it taste even sweeter when that victory comes with a homebred?

“A hundred per cent – definitely,” said Ana. “It means such a lot. There’s a lot of work goes into it behind the scenes before they even go into training. It’s really exciting and I am lucky that they trust me to take charge of a lot of it. We’re doing our best.”


The post ‘There is no Higher Level’: American Team Celebrates Ascot Repeat appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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