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King's Legacy next step on Juliet's journey

7 min read
With G1 Surround S. winner Forbidden Love (All Too Hard), who contests Saturday's G2 Sheraco S. at Kembla Grange, pursuing more racetrack glory this spring, her breeder Kerry O'Brien has plotted a visit to Coolmore's new addition King's Legacy for her dam Juliet's Princess (USA) (More Than Ready {USA}).

Cover image courtesy of Ashlea Brennan

O'Brien and Mike Fleming have built a strong relationship over the past 15 years and Juliet's Princess resides on Mike and Kate Fleming's Bhima Thoroughbreds farm at Scone, along with the remainder of O'Brien's select broodmare band.

Mike Fleming

It was a connection that was solidified when the South Australian-based breeder, and former Olympian, retired his multiple stakes winner, Augusta Proud (More Than Ready {USA}) in 2011.

"He's been in breeding for as long as I have been in Australia," Christchurch-born Fleming told TDN AusNZ. "He has been a client for myself at Brooklyn Lodge, then Broadwater and then Bhima. He's been with us in excess of 15 years.

"When Augusta Proud retired off the track, she came to us at Brooklyn Lodge, and has been with us all the way through."

"When Augusta Proud retired off the track, she came to us at Brooklyn Lodge, and has been with us all the way through." - Mike Fleming

Augusta Proud was one of those great racing stories. She was initially passed in short of her $50,000 reserve at the Magic Millions Adelaide Yearling Sale but was purchased by O'Brien and syndicated among a bunch of friends from Port Augusta, hence the name.

Trained by Leon Macdonald, she would win her first six starts, culminating in her victory in the 2008 Magic Millions 2YO Classic, which was held on Easter Monday because of the knock-on impacts of the 2007 equine influenza outbreak. She would finish her career with nine wins, four of them at stakes level, and has won over $1.7 million in prizemoney.

American approach

O'Brien's passion for strong pedigrees, especially those with an American influence, led him to secure another daughter of More Than Ready (USA) in early 2010. The filly, offered by Gainesway, had been initially passed in for US$19,000 (AU$25,820) at the 2010 Keeneland January Horses Of All Ages Sale but arrived in Australia three months later under O'Brien's ownership.

More Than Ready (USA) | Standing at WinStar Farm

"Kerry would have liked the pedigree and liked the family. He has always done a lot of research and has a lot of input into his matings. He has always had ideas about crosses between stallions and mares and what works," Fleming said.

"A lot of those American mares that have ended up here have been pretty good producers."

The filly's dam, Malayan Princess (USA) (Thunder Gulch {USA}), was unraced but was a half-sister to four American stakes winners and the extended pedigree was replete with American black-type success.

Named Juliet's Princess, she won on debut for Macdonald and Andrew Gluyas as a 2-year-old, no mean feat considering she was bred in the Northern Hemisphere. Her racing career would see her win five races in all, and place in a Listed Laelia S., which rubber-stamped her progression to Fleming to join Augusta Proud at the end of her racing days.

"Kerry has always done a lot of research and has a lot of input into his matings. He has always had ideas about crosses between stallions and mares and what works." - Mike Fleming

Her breeding career didn't begin well, missing her first two seasons, but she did deliver a Foxwedge filly in her third season. Named Kuramae, she secured $25,000 as a weanling to trainer Matthew Williams and agent Sheamus Mills (FBAA) and won three races, including two at Flemington.

Kuramae was sold for $200,000 to Spendthrift Australia through the 2021 Inglis Chairman's Sale, with her jump in value attributable to what Juliet's Princess' second filly, by All Too Hard, has been able to add to the family.

Love at first sight

That filly, the cleverly named Forbidden Love, was secured for $150,000 to Richard Freedman from the Bhima draft at the 2019 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

Forbidden Love as a yearling

"She was such a lovely, athletic filly, with good scope and good bone. She had a good brain on her. She was one of those fillies that stood out," Fleming said.

Forbidden Love has lived up to that on the track for Freedman and his brother Michael, breaking through for her first stakes win at her seventh start in the Listed Reginald Allen S. last October before running third in the G1 Empire Rose S.

Having won the Listed Gosford Guineas in December, she put a massive spotlight on the family when she strolled away to win the G1 Surround S. at Randwick last February. Fleming said that victory meant a lot to O'Brien, who keeps a low profile from his South Australian base.

"It’s great for him personally, with how involved he has been with racing and breeding, to have bred a mare like Forbidden Love that is performing at the best level," he said.

"She's (Forbidden Love) one of the best All Too Hard has left and it doesn't look like she has finished yet." - Mike Fleming

"She's one of the best All Too Hard has left and it doesn't look like she has finished yet."

The spring certainly shapes up well for Forbidden Love, who is a leading hope in the G2 Sheraco S. and has a host of features on her radar. She holds entries for the G1 Epsom H. and the Golden Eagle, while the newly established $2 million The Invitation looks very suitable as well.

Legacy looms

Back at Bhima, Juliet's Princess, who missed to All Too Hard last year, is set to visit King's Legacy at Coolmore this spring.

King's Legacy | Standing at Coolmore

"He was such a very well-performed horse at two," Fleming said. "He's a very good pedigree horse, who performed up to his pedigree. He has got a very strong stallion flavour through his dam's side. Physically and type-wise, the match up works pretty well.

"With our connection with Jonathan Munz and GSA, who are shareholders in King's Legacy, we know he's going to get a very good start with mares this year. You add in Coolmore's backing and it makes sense to support him with some good mares."

"We know King's Legacy is going to get a very good start with mares this year." - Mike Fleming

Juliet's Princess has a yearling colt by Epaulette, who Fleming expects, being a November foal, will make one of the later yearling sales in 2022.

As for Augusta Proud, she is set to foal to Hellbent later this spring, with a destination for her yet to be determined.

She has proven a wonderful commercial breeder for O'Brien. Her first foal, Thyme For Roses (Redoute's Choice), was sold by Fleming through his previous Broadwater operation for $450,000 in 2015 and would go on and win at Group 3 level. She later sold for $800,000 as a broodmare prospect to Stonestreet Stables and headed to the United States.

Her Snitzel filly Ajaayeb secured $875,000 to Emirates Park through Bhima's draft at the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, while her I Am Invincible filly Amen Corner sold for $750,000 to Stonestreet at the same Sale in 2020.

"Augusta Proud was able to do it on the track and gave Kerry a lot of thrills. She's produced some very good horses and has been a great mare for him," Fleming said.

From the running track to the racetrack

O'Brien has reduced the size of his broodmare band this year, with a focus on his two stars, Augusta Proud and Juliet's Princess.

"It’s obviously hard to buy that quality back in given how strong the mare market is, and hopefully one of Juliet's Princess or Augusta Proud can get him a filly that he can retain and breed within the next couple of years," Fleming said.

Success on the racetrack has followed on from success on the running track for O'Brien, who was a silver medallist in the 3000-metre steeplechase in the Commonwealth Games in 1966, and fourth in the same event in the Olympics in Mexico in 1968. He also held the world record in that event from 1970 until 1972 before retiring at age 26.

In 2014, he was inducted into the South Australian Sports Hall of Fame. One of those inducted alongside him that year, was the late legendary thoroughbred figure, Colin Hayes.

Forbidden Love
Kerry O'Brien
Mike Fleming
Juliet's Princess
Augusta Proud
King's Legacy