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Plain Jane to take Flight

5 min read
Last-minute decisions have been a hallmark for GT Park and Nakeeta Jane (So You Think {NZ}) and Mark Towell is hopeful of another 'sliding doors' moment after paying a late entry fee to get their filly into the field for Saturday's G1 Darley Flight S. at Randwick.

Thoroughbred racing and breeding has its fair share of those 'what if?' moments, and Nakeeta Jane's very existence is owed to a spur-of-the-moment decision Towell took four years ago with their broodmare Lustre Lady (Flying Spur).

"She was actually booked to High Chaparral and I think it was the morning of the booking, we changed our mind and went to So You Think instead," Towell explained to TDN AusNZ.

"She had a High Chaparral filly at foot, now called Layton Abbey, who won at Hawkesbury a couple of weeks ago, and the walk on farm we had her at, the manager there said she felt High Chaparral wasn't the right match for the mare."

"We had a quick think about it, and I rang Coolmore and said 'is it too late to change'? They said, no absolutely not, there's a booking to So You Think available this afternoon I said 'lock it in'. It was that late a decision."

So You Think was a very last-minute decision for Lustre Lady

Knocked back

But fate wasn't finished with Towell and Nakeeta Jane just yet. GT Park had intended on offering the filly at the sales but hit a snag which meant they retained her to race.

"We usually look to sell all our yearlings but both sales companies knocked her back, because she was a little bit offset in one knee," he said.

"It was the morning of the booking, we changed our mind and went to So You Think instead," Mike Towell.

From the time she was born, she wasn't tagged as the prettiest filly of the bunch, but Towell always felt she had the potential to develop into a very nice horse.

"She got her name because we called her Plain Jane, because she was a plain sort of foal," he said. "We always called her Janey on the farm. She was always quite plain, but a big bossy sort of filly. Always very dominant in the paddock and always had a lot of presence about her."

Lustre Lady and Nakeeta Jane as a foal

Towell's father Ron had bought the dam Lustre Lady at the 2006 Magic Millions Sales for $100,000 from Arrowfield.

"John O'Shea trained her for us. She was a very, very handy filly for us. She was placed in the Breeders Classic, obviously a Group 2, so she had plenty of ability. We've kept her and bred from her since then and had a couple of handy ones from her."

"She got her name because we called her Plain Jane, because she was a plain sort of foal." - Mike Towell

Cyrus Rocks (Bernardini) has been good enough to win three races, while Layton Abbey (High Chaparral {Ire}) has won one from four early in her career. Lustre Lady also foaled a colt by Pierro earlier this week.

Layton Abbey

Patience pays with Nakeeta Jane

Nakeeta Jane, trained by Mark Newnham, certainly looks the best of them, progressing from a second in a Kensington maiden earlier this month to a win in a strong maiden at Warwick Farm last start.

"Mark's just always been very patient with her. He's always had a bit of an opinion of her and the plan was always the Oaks in the autumn. That was always the direction he wanted to head but she has just come to hand so quickly this preparation, that we decided we had to have a go at the Group 1," Towell said.

"She's been racing against some pretty handy opposition. Obviously Ranier (Lonhro) is a very handy horse she beat comfortably last start at Warwick Farm."

"She has just come to hand so quickly this preparation, that we decided we had to have a go at the Group 1." - Mike Towell

"She's been racing against the colts and geldings and been super impressive against them, so she's definitely worth a run against her own age and own sex. We decided to pay up for the late entry fee because it was the next logical step for her this preparation."

The thrill of a Group 1 runner

It won’t be the first time that Towell and GT Park have had a Group 1 runner. They enjoyed a great ride with the mare Montana Flyer (Flying Spur) a few years back as she contested five races at the elite level, including a placing behind Typhoon Tracy (Red Ransom {USA}) in the 2010 Queen of the Turf.

"The market's suggesting that she's not really a chance, but we're quietly confident that she’ll run a very big race." - Mike Towell

GT Park enjoyed a great ride with Montana Flyer

But Towell admits that there is a real buzz about having a Group 1 runner on such a big raceday and he feels Nakeeta Jane is in with a genuine chance.

"It's been a great build up this week, right from Monday when we paid the late entry, it’s been a big build up," he said.

"The market's suggesting that she's not really a chance, but we're quietly confident that she’ll run a very big race."

Win, lose or draw on Saturday, she’ll be spelling at GT Park on Monday, preparing herself for what Towell predicts will be an even better autumn.

"I don’t think she's fully mature yet and Mark is of the same opinion, so I think there's an exciting autumn ahead for her," he said.