If there was one lesson Oxford Thoroughbred’s Kylie Fawcett took out of last Saturday’s G1 Queensland Oaks (2400m), it was not to judge a book by its cover.
Fawcett, along with partner Eddie Wright and friend Rachel Spriggens, bred Oaks winner Miss Keepsake (Keeper) – a horse who failed to impress as a foal.
“She was pretty ordinary to be fair,” recalled Fawcett. “She was born at Seaton Park and when I asked Scott (Eagleton) what she was like, he said ‘She’s bloody awful. She looks like a rabbit’.
“I went out there and she was disappointing. Her legs went in all directions – they were like bananas, and she had these big ears! She looked so bad; I decided just take a photo of her head for Eddie to see.”
Fortunately, the filly would later show a degree of improvement. “Oxford wasn’t established at the time, so our mares were staying at Vicki Pascoe’s Club Med Lodge. Vicki agisted the mares during gestation and they were then walk-ins at Seaton Park come birth time,” Fawcett recalled.
“When the mare and foal returned to Vicki’s, she locked them both up and within three weeks the foal had tidied up considerably. “She was still small, but she was a lot better. That said, she was still no ‘sale’ type.”
Owing to her size and less than ideal legs, the breaking-in of Miss Keepsake was held off until she was 16 months of age.
“We sent her to Paul Pertab, who is one of the best around for educating horses.
“Within 4 weeks he told us, ‘Don’t sell too many shares in this one. I think she is going to be a good one’. He doesn’t say much about the ones he’s not that keen on, so when he says something like this, you listen.”
The filly would later be sent to Andrew Scott in Matamata to train and the rest is history. Miss Keepsake will attempt to complete the Oaks – Derby double this Saturday. She has been quoted at $13 to beat the colts and fellow fillies Dariana and Marheta.