Fleur stamps her class

Fleur de Lune completed a popular Cambridge Group One double when breaking through for her first major success in the $200,000 Sistema Railway Stakes at Ellerslie today.

Veyron, trained by Linda Laing and ridden by Rogan Norvall, was the star on the first day when turning the tables of Shez Sinsational in the Group I Zabeel Classic and now thanks to Fleur de Lune, both group One wins at the Auckland Summer Carnival have gone to Cambridge stables.

Fleur de Lune credited trainer Lee Somervell with his first Group One training triumph and gave rider Jason Jago his first Group One success in New Zealand. And the manner in which she raced away from her opposition, headed by New Plymouth visitor Jetset Lad, left no excuses for the beaten brigade.

“It’s been a great team effort,” said a humble Somervell as he waited for Jago and Fleur de Lune to come off the track. “It’s the greatest New Year present I could get.”

Fleur de Lune certainly deserved the Group One success after being placed five times in Group One races. And when you consider it took the likes of Mufhasa, Jimmy Choux and Veyron to beat her in some of those features, she did stand out as the horse to take the Railway.

If Mufhasa had been in the Railway Stakes, punters would have been clambering over themselves to get on the multiple Group One winner, yet Fleur de Lune was allowed to start at odds of better than 9/1.

Jago settled Fleur de Lune midfield and worked her between runners early in the home straight to loom as a big threat. And once asked for an effort, she responded magnificently for Jago to race clear to win by a length and a quarter.

Somervell has had his share of good horses over the years, but when it comes to sheer determination you can’t get better than Fleur de Lune.

“There’s not much of her, but she’s all heart,” said Somervell. “I knew she’d be hard to beat today. She was back to her old self and Jason rode her a treat. He’s got a real affinity with her and has ridden her in all her six wins.”

Coincidentally, both Norvall and Jago came to New Zealand in search of better opportunities after coming from neighbouring countries. Norvall hails from Zimbabwe and Jago from South Africa, where he recorded five Group One wins and numerous Group Two and Three winning performances. Jago also won a Group One race in Zimbabwe.

Since Jago and his family shifted to New Zealand just over five years ago he has added another three black type wins to his tally, all via Cambridge-trained horses.

His first stakes win in New Zealand came aboard the Murray and Bjorn Baker-trained Alagant Satin in the Group III Ezibuy Eulogy Stakes at Awapuni in December 2008 and later that month the pair combined for a win in the Group II Eight Carat Classic at Ellerslie.

Earlier this season he gained a Group III Waikato Stud Foxbridge Plate win on Fleur de Lune and now he’s the Group One hero via the courageous mare.

Fleur de Lune is raced by a Hastings couple, John and Colleen Duncan, in partnership with breeder Ada Parnwell, for whom Somervell manages Cambridge Lodge.

As well as training, Somervell is part of the Horse Magic show at Cambridge Lodge and studmaster and broodmare manager. “It all keeps us busy, but I love it,” he said. “This makes it all worthwhile.”

Fleur de Lune’s next major mission will be the Group I Fiber Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes at Te Aroha. She was third in it two seasons ago and beaten a nose in it by Say No More last April.