British Champions Series Stars To Stud: Journey
14 Feb 2018
This week we focus on the John Gosden-trained mare who dazzled on Champions Day in 2016.
Dettori guided Journey to four of her six career wins. Picture: Racingfotos
According to John Gosden, Journey is a strong-willed filly/mare who would have an opinion on just about everything if you invited her to a dinner party.
She was not just a talking horse during her racing days, though, and showed herself to be a high-class middle-distance performer during a 17-race career that yielded six wins and £678,000 in prize money for her American owner George Strawbridge.
The daughter of Dubawi also had the distinction of running in the Group 1 QIPCO British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes, on Champions Day at Ascot in October, for three successive years – finishing second, first and sixth.
Journey’s quirks led to her being equipped with a hood after her second start and she was something of a slow burner, not losing her maiden tag until her fifth start when she made all in a ten-furlong maiden at Newbury.
A couple of runs she landed a Listed prize at Salisbury, when a 33-1 chance, and from there did not look back.
On her final start as a three-year-old, in 2015, she took her form to a new level when beating all bar Simple Verse
Kicked for home with two furlongs to run under Frankie Dettori, she kept responding to the urgings of her jockey in the closing stages but was narrowly run down by the St Leger winner.
With no Simple Verse to beat, and the ground quicker, the combination went one better in style 12 months later – zooming home by four lengths. She had limbered up for that success with victories at Haydock and Newmarket.
In 2017 she was below-par on her first two starts, including behind Highland Reel in the Investec Coronation Cup, but a second to Bateel in the Prix Vermeille seemed to suggest she was approaching the boil at just the right time for her defence of her Fillies and Mares Stakes crown.
However, she faded to finish sixth – seemingly finding the testing ground too much for her. Gosden had already stated it would be her farewell appearance.
Journey’s wide draw looked a potential stumbling block but Frankie Dettori quickly had her at the head of the main group – Pretty Perfect raced in a clear lead – and the race was quickly over when the pair led over a furlong out.
Journey was better positioned than most but she surged four lengths clear and the 4-1 chance was undoubtedly the best horse on the day.
The form had substance, too, with the next pair home being Group 1 winners Speedy Boarding and Queen’s Trust. Pretty Perfect faded to be fourth.
What they said:
Trainer John Gosden said after her win on Champions Day in 2016: “I said to Frankie, ‘just try to settle where you can’ and she’ll tell you when she’s happy, and he rode her beautifully. She showed great acceleration – she was just caught out last year when the ground was just too soft, but it was a marvellous effort given that she was beaten by the St Leger winner, Simple Verse.
“She is a bit quirky at home – she’s one of those fillies that you don’t argue with. She’s got her mind set on what she wants to do and you go with her – if you try and impose your will upon her she will quickly tell you what to do.”
A jubilant Frankie Dettori added: “I can’t believe the turn of foot that she showed today and I am delighted for her. She picked up like she had roller skates. It was instantaneous. She’s not straightforward, but she keeps on winning so I like her!”
What should we expect from her offspring?:
In short, quality packages who will need treating with more care and understanding that most.
John Gosden made no secret of the fact that Journey, who wore a hood for most of her career, had her quirks.
It runs in her family because Montare, her dam, tended to carry head awkwardly during her career and would flash her tail on occasions. She wore cheekpieces.
And Journey’s grandsire was the brilliant but tricky Montjeu.
Resolution has not looked an issue, though, and there is every reason to expect her offspring to be potentially classy customers over middle distances and beyond.
Owner-breeder Strawbridge has a penchant for stayers, so do not be surprised if she is paired with a stamina-landen a sire or two somewhere down the line.