Champagne Cuddles after her win in the Group 2 Yarraman Park Breeders Classic (Lisa Grimm)
Newsflash … size does matter!
Well, if you’re trying to sell a yearling it usually matters.
That said, it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem if the ‘vertically challenged’ go on to win over $1 million in prizemoney.
Which brings us to Saturday’s Group Two Yarraman Park Breeders Classic winner, Champagne Cuddles.
Turangga Stud’s Stuart Ramsey was keen to get $200,000 for his flashy, albeit small chestnut filly at the 2016 Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale, but ended up – if you’ll excuse the pun – a long way short.
“I didn’t get a single bid for her!,” Ramsey recalls. “I really liked her though … yes, she was small but she has a good shoulder and girth and a terrific walk, so I really didn’t have a problem bringing her home.”
The solution? Family!
“I ended up leasing the filly to my wife, my mother, my aunty, my daughters and a whole bunch of their friends, who call themselves the Champagne Ladies,” Ramsey reveals. “My mother is 90 years old and my aunty is 80 and neither has been in a horse before. Definitely a good one to get involved with.”
A good one indeed. Although the Bjorn Baker trained, Champagne Cuddles, was probably better known – prior to the Breeders Classic – for the races she didn’t win, the Not a Single Doubt mare has been tremendously consistent, producing four wins and 10 placings from 16 starts. Her only two ‘failures’ were both at Group One level.
Winning the Listed Pierro in her first start at two, Champagne Cuddles resumed the following June with a victory at Randwick which, as it turns out, was her only start not at black type level.
That spring Champagne Cuddles would finish second or third in three Group Twos (Silver Shadow, Furious, Tea Rose) and two Group Ones (Golden Rose, Flight).
Then Champagne Cuddles opened her winter campaign with a Group Three Gold Coast Guineas, but soon followed up with placings in both the Group One Kingsford-Smith and Group One Stradbroke.
Last spring resulted in two further Group Two placings and, leading into Saturday’s Breeders Classic, a third in the Listed Kensington Stakes at Flemington in January.
All up, $1,074,175 in stakes.
“She’s always so genuine,” Bjorn Baker enthused, “a pleasure to train … great nature and so relaxed. A special horse.”
Given the competitive cauldron that is Hunter Valley breeding, Turangga Stud has more than held its own over the years with its farm graduates including Ancient Song, Headway, Hong Kong Horse of the Year, Able Friend, Cinque Cento, Karuta Queen and, in the last couple of seasons, the stakes winners Let Me Sleep On It, Glenall, Swing Note and Charge (a three quarter length third to Gem Song in Saturday’s Group Three Aquis Farm Eskimo Prince Stakes at Warwick Farm).
However, Ramsey takes special pride in the Champagne Cuddles family… for obvious reasons.
“I purchased Champagne Cuddles’ granddam, Suggestive, from Baramul Stud for $90,000,” Ramsey explains. “She’s a full sister to 2YO stakes winner Pottinger (dam of Singapore’s Aushorse Golden Horseshoe winner, Pitstop). It’s that good Sister Grace pedigree.
“She (Suggestive) won at two, but we didn’t see the best of her on the track … although she did alright as a broodmare!”
Sent to stud in 1997, Suggestive would ultimately produce nine runners, eight of which won, including Melbourne Group Two winner, Highly Recommended, Group winner Sky Love, plus stakes winners Hint and Undeniably. Another of her daughters – the only non-winner – went on to produce Gai Waterhouse’s Group Two Tulloch Stakes winner, Fast Clip.
However, the pride of the fleet is undoubtedly Suggestive’s third foal, the Snippets filly and Champagne Cuddles’ dam, Sky Cuddle.
Raced by Turangga, Sky Cuddle won the Group One Emirates Stakes and two other Group races for Peter Moody, along with two Group One placings and a fourth to Makybe Diva in the 2005 Cox Plate.
Sky Cuddle hasn’t had quite the same impact at stud as her mum with just the three winners, but Champagne Cuddles could well carry on the tradition for Turangga, while another daughter is the dam of 2018 Flemington stakes winner, Violate.
Following a large dispersal of its breeding stock in 2017, Turangga currently has around 30 mares, but will undoubtedly find space for another after Saturday’s success.