Beirut Springs A Black Type Parting Gift

Beirut (pic. Keryn Stevens)


Andrew Goulopoulos was one happy fella as he headed to Adelaide airport on Saturday night.

His mare, Beirut, had – only a few hours previously – won the Group Three David A Coles Spring Stakes at Morphettville and Goulopoulos’s biggest problem in life was how he was going to manage to get the trophy in as a carry on.

Goulopoulos bred the now 6YO mare and races her with wife and family. Actually, as of Saturday, it’s no longer ‘races’, with the operative word being ‘raced’.

“Yes, Beirut is being retired and will be covered by Magnus this spring,” Goulopoulos revealed. “Her win at Caulfield in mid-July was going to be her last run, but then we decided to give her one last try in the Spring Stakes.”

It proved to be a winning move in more ways than one. Beirut had won four straight coming into Saturday’s race, but this was her first tilt at the all-important black type, adding substantially to her residual value as a broodmare.

In an ironic twist, Goulopoulos explained that Beirut was also entered for the Group Three Aurie’s Star at Flemington, ultimately won by Darren Weir’s Sooboog, who had, in turn, been scratched from the Spring Stakes.

It’s only supposition as to the end result if the mercurial Sooboog had lined up against Beirut in Adelaide, but the latter has shown – in her last five runs at least – that she’s very hard to run down when she sets the pace.

Goulopoulos added that Beirut would now increase his broodmare band to nine and “while I haven’t been breeding horses for that long”, he’s no Andrew-come-lately to the racing game: “I’ve owned horses for around 50 years and raced a pretty good galloper by the name of Salamander back in the 70s,” Goulopoulos explained. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have had quite a few winners in between, but this is my first Group winner since Salamander. It’s all very exciting.”

A brilliant performer, Salamander won a Toorak Handicap, Turnbull Stakes, Sandown Cup and CB Fisher Plate and, famously, was beaten a nose by Hyperno in the 1978 Melbourne Cup.

“I have a property at Flinders (in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula) and our sale horses are prepared at Musk Creek Farm, which is nearby,” Goulopoulos adds. “Beirut has a half brother, by Sebring, that will go to next year’s Gold Coast Magic Millions, while another half brother, by Your Song, was purchased by Justin Bahen Bloodstock for $120,000 at this year’s Inglis Melbourne Premier.”

But he decided against selling Beirut as a yearling?

“Given that she’s a filly and looks so much like her sire (Lonhro), it was decided we’d keep her to race.”

A wise choice on Goulopoulos’s part, especially as the mare is closely related to multiple Group winner Delbrae and hails from the famous Leica family: Leica Western, Leica Smile, Leica Jewel (dam of Redding) et al.

But spare a thought for trainer, Henry Dwyer, who has now been training in his own right for three years and has ‘lost’ two outstanding mares in recent months.

Dwyer was handed Beirut earlier in the year and subsequently won five of eight starts with her, while Precious Gem – successful in the Group One Robert Sangster at Morphettville in May – was sold at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale and has also been retired to stud.

The young trainer is fairly philosophical though and was effusive in his praise for Beirut: “That (the Spring Stakes) was a very good win … she’s a tough mare and has really been up for quite a while. Not many win five in a row. I’m really happy for Andrew and hopefully she’ll do very well at stud.”

With around 40 in work, Dwyer is rapidly emerging as one of Victoria’s leading trainers and despite his relatively short tenure, has also saddled up the likes of 2014 Queensland Derby winner, Sonntag.

The Power of Passion