Spitfire Lady purchased with purpose

PUBLISHED: 25 February 2020

Missisippi Burning (Liesl King)

Australian-bred mare Spitfire Lady is unusual from a South African perspective in that she was not brought over here to race but was specifically purchased as a broodmare.

The Millstream farm-base mare is proving to be a valuable acquisition.

Her first foal is the Adam Marcus-trained Grade 1 WSB Cape Fillies Guineas winner Missisippi Burning and her second foal, the Barend Botes-trained Noble Tune colt Fire And Ice, got off the mark in fluent style on Saturday over 1160m at Turffontein.

Missisippi Burning (Liesl King)
Missisippi Burning (Liesl King)

Neither of her first two foals reached their reserve at the Sales.

Jan Mantel of Millstream pointed out, “She has a beautiful pedigree, but she does not throw Sales horses. They are not big, flashy horses at sales time.”

Bloodstock Agent Kerry Jack often visited Australia, mainly to buy weanlings either for pinhooking or for clients, but in 2015, for the first and only time, she bought a broodmare, Spitfire Lady.

The mare was bought on behalf of Mario Ferreira with the intention of standing her at Rathmor Stud in the KZN Midlands. Ferreira’s newly acquired stallion Noble Tune was initially based at Rathmor and his arrival coincided with him going on a mare-buying spree. Noble Tune and the band of mares were later moved down to Millstream in Robertson in the Western Cape, where the stallion and mare strength is greater.  

Spitfire Lady is by Hussonet out of a Maroof mare called Galroof, who won a Group 3 over 1630m and had two Group 1 seconds in the Queensland Derby over 2400m and Doomben Cup over 2000m respectively as well as a second in the Queensland Guineas.

Spitfire Lady was a useful racehorse herself, winning four races from 1200m to 1600m and finishing Listed-placed multiple times. Furthermore, she is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner and twice Grade 1-placed Sabrage and to Listed winner and Grade 1 runner up Pinnacles as well as being a full-sister to a Listed placed horse.

Kerry Jack looked at a few mares for Ferreira and Rathmor Stud at the Gold Coast national broodmare Sale of 2015 and between them they settled on Spitfire Lady. 

“We didn’t think we would have to spend as much as we did,” she said.

The mare was knocked down for Aus $240,000.

Fire Ice is in-bred 3x4x5 to Mr Prospector and 5×5 to Northern Dancer and as Noble Tune is out of a mare by Storm Cat, who hails from the Northern Dancer/Bold Ruler cross, the two lines of Bold Ruler in Spitfire Lady’s pedigree are eye-catching. Spitfire Lady also brings a line of Princequillo, two lines of which are found in Noble Tune’s pedigree. The Bold Ruler/Princequillo cross of course produced Storm Cat’s famous damsire, Secretariat.

Spitfire Lady had to stand in quarantine in Cape Town upon arrival in South Africa and Jack thus suggested to Ferreira that this would provide her with the opportunity to get off to a good start by being sent to Cape-based champion Captain Al.  

The result was the diminutive Missisippi Burning. 

She has already won four races, from just seven starts, and has accumulated R794,063 in stakes.

The Cape Fillies Guineas was her first race beyond a sprint and having jumped from draw two and had a rails run throughout she showed a tremendous turn of foot from a midfield position to win easily by three.

Marcus decided to avoid the Grade 1 Bidvest Majorca Stakes on Sun Met day as she had drawn wide and he felt the quality of the older fillies at present would have also made it tough.  

He said, “She is a young, lightly raced filly with a lot of ability. The SA Champions Season in KZN willl be her main aim as she will be able to race against her own age group. She is small but compact and is all heart.”

She should be suited to the tight Greyville track, where the ability to quicken immediately is a valuable asset.

Fire And Ice, who is similarly unimposing, placed four times before winning at the fifth attempt on Saturday.

One noticeable characteristic he shares with his half-sister, besides size, is courage.

In his penultimate start he didn’t enjoy blinkers and was booked to miss out on the places when under pressure in the final stages. It seemed for all money he would fade right out but he somehow found enough to go from fifth to third in the last 125 metres.

The blinkers were dispensed with on Saturday and he showed good cruising speed to be within striking distance. He made his run on the unfavourable inside of runners but was still able to exert his authority over a decent field of maidens to win cosily by 1,30 lengths, despite starting odds of 10/1.

He will be interesting stepped up in trip, which he should be looking for on pedigree considering his grandam’s ability to stay and Noble Tune’s  Grade 2 win over 1700m.  

Spitfire Lady currently has a Querari October-born foal at foot.

She went to Twice Over for a late season cover but did not get in foal.

It is said that freak ability is unlikely to be passed on to future generations, whereas courage can be. Spitfire Lady is thus a mare to follow.

She is the first and only Grade 1-producing mare of Ferreira’s breeding operation to date.

By David Thiselton