In training

Ouija Board

Bay Filly
DOB: 06 Mar 2001
Cape Cross x Selection Board (Welsh Pageant)
Owner: Lord Derby

When Australia crossed the line a length and a quarter in front of Kingston Hill to land the 2014 renewal of the Derby, the media proclaimed he was ‘born to win’ the Epsom showpiece.

That bold statement emanated from his illustrious blue-blooded pedigree, the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt being a son of Galileo, the Derby scorer in 2001 and subsequently the pre-eminent global stallion of the twenty-first century.

However, it was his dam that really made the page, Australia being out of Ouija Board, the 2004 Oaks winner who lit up La Grange during her stunning four-year career under Ed’s care between 2003 and 2006.

Owned by Lord Derby, Ouija Board – a daughter of top-class miler Cape Cross out of the placed Welsh Pageant mare Selection Board, a half-sister to Grade 1 Arlington Million winner Teleprompter – she made an immediate impact during her three runs as a juvenile, winning second-time out at Yarmouth before ending her campaign by running third in the Listed Montrose Stakes on the Rowley Mile.

A visually stunning reappearance in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at the same venue elevated her towards the head of the betting for the Oaks, and she emphatically brandished any criticism of her class, tenacity or staying prowess when thumping her rivals by seven lengths at Epsom, majestically extending in the final furlong under Kieren Fallon.

Ouija Board justified a costly supplementary entry for the Irish equivalent on her next outing at the Curragh, winning by an eased-down length, and she enjoyed a midsummer break before being prepared for a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – her first outing against the colts.

Ridden by Johnny Murtagh in Paris, Ouija Board was held-up from her middle draw and travelled kindly into the race, but she – like so many before and after her – fell victim to the Longchamp Gods and found trouble in running when it mattered most. Switched to the outside, she made a sustained late bid in the closing stages, but eventually ran out of time and was forced to settle for third behind the locally-trained Bago.

The Racing Post analysis of that run noted she “will be a four-year-old to look forward to” and, while that prediction was handsomely vindicated the following summer, Ouija Board would run once more in the autumn of 2004, unleashing a devastating turn of foot to capture the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mares Turf at Lone Star Park.

After suffering a minor setback, Ouija Board made her long-anticipated seasonal reappearance in The Prince Of Wales's Stakes, a race normally run as the Wednesday highlight of Royal Ascot but, due to the construction of a new grandstand, one that took place at York in 2005.

Although all the signs at home indicated she had trained on, Ouija Board finished seventh behind Azamour having been eased down, but it was discovered on her return that she had lost her right-fore shoe and had incurred a small stress fracture during the contest.

After a period of swimming and gentle exercise, Ouija Board returned to cantering, and she resumed her rightful place in the winner’s enclosure when landing the Group 3 Princess Royal John Doyle Stakes at Newmarket in the September, clearing away to score by two and a half lengths.

Foreign ventures once again lay in wait for Ouija Board in the autumn of her four-year-old career, narrowly succumbing to Intercontinental in the defence of her Breeders’ Cup crown as the winner stole the race under a canny front-running ride.

The jet-setting continued as she then headed for Japan, running fifth in the Japan Cup having endured a troubled run, but she comprehensively regained the winning thread when careering away with the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin in December.

The air miles racked up again as she had her next engagement in Dubai, reflecting Ed’s pioneering approach to international travel and the prize money and plaudits that can be gained by campaigning the very best horses in the top global contests.

Run at the now defunct Nad Al Sheba, Ouija Board finished fourth in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic, her chance of winning having been compromised by the steady early pace dictated by the eventual winner, Heart’s Cry.  

One month later, Ouija Board returned to Sha Tin to finish third in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, run over 1m2f. She was beaten only a neck in a pulsating finish, again having to make late headway against rivals that were ridden more prominently.

On her return to Britain, Ouija Board finished runner-up behind Shirocco, who is now climbing his way towards the top of the pile of National Hunt stallions. She was beaten only a length and three quarters on that occasion, which primed her perfectly for a second tilt at the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, a race that returned to its usual home of Ascot in 2006.

Partnered for the first and only time by French supremo Olivier Peslier, Ouija Board got the better of Electrocutionist by half a length, once again silencing any doubts that her ability remained intact.

Her next start in Group 1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown failed to go to plan, with Ouija Board suffering a luckless passage and stumbling towards the closing stages. She eventually finished fifth, a position that was testament to her character given the obstacles that she faced.

Having had an easy couple of days before returning to exercise, Ouija Board notched her sixth top-flight success when triumphing in the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, narrowly prevailing in an epic duel with fellow outstanding race-mare Alexander Goldrun, trained in Ireland by Jim Bolger, having overcome a lack of early pace.  The moments after her success were to be treasured, as Frankie Dettori trotted her back past the stands to a rapturous reception, while she was given a heart-warming ‘three cheers’ as she returned to the winner’s enclosure.

The Irish Champion Stakes came next and Ouija Board ran a fine race behind Irish Derby – and subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – winner Dylan Thomas, taking the lead inside the final two furlongs before being outstayed in the closing stages.

Ouija Board enjoyed another memorable autumn afterwards, returning to the US to land her second Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, which proved her seventh and final top-level win as she stretched two and a quarter lengths clear of a 10-strong field bursting with class.

Having scooped two awards at the Cartier-sponsored ceremony in November, Ouija Board made her final racecourse appearance in the Japan Cup, finishing third behind the legendary Deep Impact, beaten two and a half lengths having had her stamina stretched on the uphill run to the line. She was due to make her third appearance in the Hong Kong Vase the following month, but was withdrawn 24 hours before the race having shown signs of lameness.

Ouija Board returned to La Grange for a period of rest before embarking on her equally-successful career as a broodmare, her first foal – Our Voodoo Prince, a colt by Kingmambo – having won a Group 3 handicap at Caulfield in April 2014. However, it would be Australia who would thrust her into the spotlight once more, underlining her class as both a breeding prospect and race-mare. Her career was nothing short of remarkable, and she truly was a star – one that will forever shine brightly over these parts. 

Link to form and entries  (courtesy of the Racing Post; opens in a new window)

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