Galaxy Success Has Ferguson Excited

Trainer David Pfieffer and jockey Tim Clark presented their trophies after I Am Excited captured the Group One City Tattersall’s Club Cup Galaxy at Rosehill Gardens (Lisa Grimm)


Andrew Ferguson wasn’t as excited as he should have been leading into Saturday’s Group One City Tattersall’s Club Cup Galaxy over 1100m at Rosehill Gardens.

Sure, his 5YO flyer, I Am Excited, had a decent shot of joining other top notch mares like In Her Time and Sweet Idea as winners of the Sydney scamper, but Ferguson had lost a bit of pep when another of his ‘stable’ – Prophet’s Thumb – finished midfield in the Listed Neds Hareeba Stakes at Mornington … just 20 minutes before the Galaxy.

“I thought (Randwick stakes winner) Prophet’s Thumb was a moral in the Hareeba and when she got beat, my lip was on the floor,” Ferguson reveals.

Yet while the owner had lost a bit of momentum, I Am Excited found plenty in an incredibly close Galaxy finish that took a photo to split.

Although I Am Excited had previously been successful in the Group Two Gilgai, Group Two Victory Stakes, Listed Darby Munro and Listed Fireball – along with nine black type placings – this was the first Group One victory for the Snitzel mare. A Group One first too for Warwick Farm trainer, David Pfieffer.

“It was a great win, I didn’t know whether to go the early crow or not because it was quite tight at the finish,” a relieved Pfieffer pointed out. “I was confident that the horse was going probably the best of her career and she toughed it right out.

“It’s my first Group One, but hopefully not my last. I’ve been training 12 years so it’s been a while coming … I’ve had runners in Group Ones and run placings and so forth, but getting that first win is very special.”

As the principal at Bell River Thoroughbreds, Ferguson has enjoyed considerable success in recent years with farm graduates such as Group One winners Extreme Choice and Ace High, along with I Am Excited’s 4-time stakes winning three quarter sister, Flippant, but reckons it’s always thrilling to get a Group One winner home in your own colours.

“Amazingly, the Galaxy turned out just as I imagined it would the previous Wednesday when the fields came out,” Ferguson mused. “She’s got to be ‘cuddled’ a bit in races, but has an absolutely electric turn of foot and came home the last 600m in 33.13 seconds – the fastest of the day. Actually, it’s the second time in a row that she’s produced the quickest 600m sectional.

“The only thing was, I didn’t imagine it would end up THAT close. Heart attack material!”

With a relatively small broodmare band and having only really taken up the breeding reins some 15 years ago, Bell River Thoroughbreds has enjoyed resounding success.

“Someone told me the other day that for every four yearlings we’ve sold at the Gold Coast, one of them has won a stakes race,” Ferguson explains. “We were based at Wellington in NSW before selling up and taking a ‘gap year’ in 2018. We then purchased the current property at Glen William, across the valley from Torryburn Stud: it’s 170 acres and absolutely ideal for what we want.

“The plan is to eventually have around 40 broodmares and their progeny, sell a dozen or so annually as weaners, prep the remainder for yearling sales and keep a filly or two to race ourselves. Hopefully a few more like I Am Excited.”

I Am Excited was bred by Ferguson’s late father-in-law, Bruce Reid, whom Ferguson credits with much of the farm’s success.

“I come from a background in merino sheep and my wife, Georgie, and I owe a lot to Bruce and his son David,” Ferguson reckons. “Ironically, Bruce had never been to a racetrack until one day I took him and he ended up backing four horses in a seven horse race. Wouldn’t you know it, the horses he didn’t back finished 1-2-3.

“He more or less told me that you can stick this racing caper where the sun doesn’t shine, but he caught the bug and ended up with 20 or 30 horses in work at one stage.

“Despite the rather inauspicious start as a punter, he had incredible success as an owner with shares in gallopers like Not A Single Doubt, Savabeel, Bradbury’s Luck and Econsul.

“I took him to the sales one day and he’d been reading up on Sunday Silence. I went off to grab him a sandwich for lunch and when I got back he’d bought this Sunday Silence filly for $400,000. None of us had even looked at the yearling.

“She was only tiny and offset to boot, but here’s the thing. I think there were only five Sunday Silences sold that year in Australia, but she – Sunday Service – was the only one of them to end up with black type.

“Sunday Service then went on to produce three stakes winners (Winner’s Way, That’s A Good Idea and Kneeling) and is the granddam of (Group One) Victoria Derby winner, Ace High. He was truly blessed.”

Dispersing a number of the Bell River mares at the 2016 Inglis Broodmare Sale, the Fergusons sold Extreme Choice’s dam for $735,000 (having purchased the mare three years earlier for $30,000) and I Am Excited’s dam, Lady Beckworth, for $400,000.

Closely related to Champion Filly, Atlantic Jewel, and Group One Thousand Guineas winner, Commanding Jewel, Lady Beckworth’s I Am Invincible colt will be sold by Newgate Farm at next month’s Inglis Easter Yearling Sale (7-8 April).

The Power of Passion