Fleur de Lune retired but Son shining

Cambridge trainer Lee Somervell has retired his top-class mare Fleur de Lune but he may have found a new shining hope in his stable.

Last Saturday Somervell revealed the decision had been to retire the Group One Sistema Railway Stakes winner Fleur de Lune and soon after Kentucky Son provided him with a highlight when finishing fourth as an outsider in the Gr. 1 TV3 NZ Derby at Ellerslie.

Kentucky Son was at odds of 145/1 in the Derby and his finishing effort didn’t surprise Somervell and rider Trudy Thornton, who both rated the horse a far better prospect than punters.

“Trudy got off him after finishing third at Matamata and said she had worked him out and was keen to press ahead for the Derby,” said Somervell.

Kentucky Son has won  two of his previous 12 starts but had disappointed when finishing last in the Darci Brahma Waikato Guineas and last in the Auckland Eye Avondale Guineas, but the addition of blinkers saw him recapture some form with his third at Matamata.

While thrilled with Kentucky Son, a son of Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge’s under-rated sire Civics, Somervell admits it’s a huge hole to fill in the stable with the retirement of Fleur de Lune, who provided him with his first Group One win when taking last year’s Sistema Railway Stakes.

Fleur de Lune ended her career with a last placing in the Haunui Farm Group One WFA Classic, won by Nashville on February 22.

“She was sore after the race and we had her x-rayed and she’s got a very faint hairline fracture in the knee of her near foreleg,” said Somervell. “It’s the same leg she had two knee operations on as a young horse.

“We’re just lucky we caught it now and she didn’t do more damage. It would have been tragic if worse happened in a race.

“Mark (Hills) said was travelling well second or third but when he gave her a squeeze she didn’t accelerate. She was feeling the leg.

“She will be wound down now and there’s plenty of time to decide on which stallion she goes to next season. She’s been a great mare for me and all the owners.”

Fleur de Lune is raced by Ada Parnwell, who bred the Stravinsky mare, in partnership with a Hastings couple, Colleen and John Duncan.

She won over $420,000 in prizemoney, the result of six wins and 14 placings. As well as the Railway Stakes, she won the Gr. 3 Waikato Stud Foxbridge Plate and was Group One placegetter when second and third in the Gr. 1 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes at Te Aroha, second to Mufhasa in the Windsor Park Plate and third in both the Makfi Challenge Stakes and the Manco Easter Handicap.