It’s a few days after Miracles of Life‘s brilliant Blue Diamond Preview victory and Iris O’Farrell is still bubbling with excitement.
Iris, the Bloodstock Manager for the filly’s owner-breeder Muzaffar Yaseen, says, “It was only a Listed Race but it felt like a much bigger race. The trainer was beside himself, and the jockey’s mother and father were so emotional.”
Pictured: Iris O’Farrell with Daniel Clarken & Lauren Stojakovic at the trophy presentation after last Saturday’s Blue Diamond Preview LR at Caulfield. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)
Trainer Daniel Clarken and jockey Lauren Stojakovic have plenty to be excited about. Miracles of Life is one of seven Teeley Assets-owned horses in Daniel’s small Adelaide stable, and apprentice Lauren, after winning twice on the filly at Morphettville, kept the ride on the 2YO daughter of Not A Single Doubt with Mr Yaseen’s support.
Says Iris, “And what has she done wrong? She’s ridden the filly three times for three wins.”
Miracles of Life has come through her 4.3 length Preview win well and has earned enough to pay the $55,000 late entry fee for the $1 million MRC Blue Diamond S. G1 on 23 February.
Winning it won’t be a new experience for Mr Yaseen: his superlative colt Redoute’s Choice won the 1999 Blue Diamond at his second start.
Today Teeley Assets owns 45 mares, 49 weanlings and yearlings, and 29 racehorses – a major bloodstock business founded on a 30-year friendship, an exceptional broodmare and a champion stallion.
Iris explains, “I was managing a TAB agency in East Melbourne, not far from the Hilton Hotel, and first met Mr Yaseen in 1983 when he was staying there and would visit the TAB.
“One day he asked me if I drank tea, I said Yes, and then some very nice tea arrived, which he still sends me.
“I got to know him better, met his wife and family, and my husband and I would sometimes join them at the races and so we became friends.”
When Mr Yaseen called in 1992 and said he wanted to buy a horse, Iris began a remarkable transition from TAB agent to bloodstock manager.
She says, “My family emigrated from Malta in the 1950s and my mother used to have a daily double but I didn’t enjoy racing and knew little about it. When I began working in a TAB I didn’t even know what ‘each way’ meant!
“I knew nothing about buying or racing horses, but I knew Bob Skelton through a friend of a friend and asked him to help us buy a filly called Go Gally Go. But unfortunately, she didn’t go at all!”
Then, in 1994 Mr Yaseen read an article about the likely top lot at that year’s Melbourne Sale, a filly by Canny Lad from Dancing Show, and determined to buy her.
And buy her he did, for $220,000 with John Messara as the under-bidder. Named Shantha’s Choice, the filly won a race in Melbourne but an injury forced her early retirement and in the spring of 1995 she was sent, at Iris’ suggestion, to the emerging super-sire, Danehill.
The result was Redoute’s Choice and he was followed by two more Group One-winning colts, Platinum Scissors and Manhattan Rain, Group 3 winner Sliding Cube and stakeswinner Echoes of Heaven. All were retained and raced by Mr Yaseen, who remains a co-owner with Arrowfield of the now champion sire Redoute’s Choice.
Redoute’s Choice both funded and encouraged the establishment of the Teeley Assets broodmare band.
Iris explains, “Mr Yaseen was mainly interested in racing but when Redoute’s Choice retired to stud, we needed to support him with mares. So we began buying them with advice from Les Young and Alan Porter.”
The Teeley Assets mares are based at Arrowfield, Coolmore, Vinery & Widden Studs, and in recent years have left Absolutely (AJC Oaks G1), Hong Kong Group winner Packing Ok, Group 3 winner Precious Lorraine, brilliant 3YO Lankan Rupee and 2YO filly Mount Zero (a game fourth in the Blue Diamond Preview), as well as Miracles of Life.
Miracles of Life is a grand-daughter of Snippets’ Jewel, purchased for $210,000 in 2005 from Vinery and then re-sold five years later after she had left four beautifully bred daughters, all retained by Mr Yaseen: Miracles of Life’s dam Dazzling Gazelle (by More Than Ready), Scattered Dreams & Oscar Dreams (both by Redoute’s Choice) and 3YO filly This Is Your Life (by Fastnet Rock).
As owner of Manhattan Rain and shareholder in Not A Single Doubt, Mr Yaseen is a strong supporter of both stallions, sending 19 mares to Manhattan Rain in 2012 alone.
Ten years retired from his busy and successful apparel business in Sri Lanka, he is content to keep a low profile, while working closely with Iris who is the public face of Teeley Assets. However, one task he reserves for himself is naming his horses, often recognisable by names connected with the rag trade, and phrases with slightly exotic or spiritual qualities.
Redoute’s Choice, for example, was named for one of Mr Yaseen’s major business clients, the famous French mail order company La Redoute.
Miracles of Life rather aptly describes the serendipitous turn of events that put the filly in Daniel Clarken’s stable, and a jockey undaunted by a series of injuries on her back.
Iris says, “We met Daniel after we bought Zodiac Queen and kept her in training with him for a few starts. We started sending him tried horses that couldn’t win in Melbourne and he did a good job with them, so we decided it was time to send him a couple of yearlings.” Latvian Amber, winner of two from four and resuming soon, was the first, and Miracles of Life, considered too small to sell, was the second.
Iris admits she didn’t truly appreciate the significance of Redoute’s Choice’s Blue Diamond victory but with another 14 years’ experience in the bloodstock business behind her, a second win, with a filly by a son of Redoute’s Choice, would be very special.
A miracle of life, indeed.