Royal Descent on Caulfield Cup quest

After Royal Descent’s heroic second in last Sunday’s VRC Turnbull Stakes 2000m G1, owner-breeder Gerry Harvey and his Racing Manager Claire Bird had a robust discussion about the next major target for the daughter of Redoute’s Choice.

Watch Royal Descent’s run for 2nd in the Turnbull S. G1.

Claire’s preference was for the VRC Myer Classic G1, run over the metric mile at which Royal Descent has compiled six of her eight Group 1 placings, all at Randwick: three seconds in the George Main Stakes, a second & a third in the Doncaster and a second, by a nose, to He’s Your Man in the 2014 Epsom Handicap.

However, Gerry has been thinking for some time about giving Royal Descent a second crack at the Caulfield Cup, two years after she ran fifth in the race, only 1.9 lengths from Fawkner, and three years after her spectacular 10-length victory in the ATC Australian Oaks G1. These have been her only two starts at 2400 metres.

Gerry, who enjoys working with people able to argue with him, says, “I know I’m pushing the odds, but we still don’t really know what her best distance is, and she deserves another chance at 2400 metres. It’s possible she may be much better at that distance than the mile.”

Gerry maintains he doesn’t win many arguments with his team, but this time “they let me have a win.” Royal Descent was paid up for the Caulfield Cup on Tuesday with 53.5 kg. Gerry then called Hall of Fame jockey Glen Boss who rode the mare for only the second time on Sunday.

“I told Glen not to take the ride if he had a better option, but he said he’s very keen to ride her, has learned a lot about her and wants to ride her a bit differently next time.”

While Royal Descent’s preferred distance remains unsettled, there is no doubt about her class or her competitive will. The evidence is in her record: five wins, 15 placings and $2.7 million from 29 starts (16 at Group 1 level) with only three finishes outside the first five.

On the one hand, her Group 1 runner-up record is heart-breaking: she has been denied six Group 1 victories and an additional $2.1 million prizemoney by a total of around 2.5 lengths.

On the other hand, there is so much to celebrate about a mare that has competed with undaunted resolve in the best company over four seasons and has beaten outstanding horses like Adelaide, Criterion, Dear Demi, Dissident, Fawkner, Hallowed Crown, Happy Trails, Hawkspur, Lucia Valentina, Rising Romance, Sacred Falls, Shooting To Win and Silent Achiever.

Gerry sums up Royal Descent’s best quality as “consistency at the top level – there aren’t many horses as consistent as she is. It’s much harder to run second in six Group Ones than to win one Group 1, a Group 3 and four Listed Races.”

Royal Descent is the seventh foal of Group 2 winner Mulan Princess (by Kaapstad), a three-quarter sister to dual Group 1 winner Golden Sword. She visits Snitzel this Spring, and has six daughters in the Baramul & Westbury Stud broodmare bands, including two city-winning full sisters of Royal Descent, The Warrior Woman & Chateau Lafaite.

Gerry has supported Redoute’s Choice every season since the start of his stud career, and has bred 10 stakeswinners by the champion sire, among them another wonderful Group 1-winning mare Lotteria. Gerry continues to breed from her, as well as a third Redoute’s Choice Group 1 winner he raced, Fashions Afield, and retains all their daughters.

The broodmare paddocks at Baramul will soon be home for Royal Descent too. But not just yet.