Teeley Assets manager Iris O’Farrell is still bubbling with excitement after Miracles of Life’s Blue Diamond Preview victory at Caulfield last Saturday.
“It was only a Listed race but it felt much bigger,” O’Farrell said. “The trainer was beside himself and the jockey’s mother and father were so emotional.”
Miracles of Life (2f Not A Single Doubt – Dazzling Gazelle by More Than Ready) is unbeaten after three starts for Teeley Assets owner Muzaffar Yaseen, trainer Daniel Clarken and jockey Lauren Stojakovic.
Clarken prepares seven Teeley Assets-owned gallopers and Stojakovic has kept the ride on the filly with Yaseen’s support. “And what has she done wrong?” asked O’Farrell. “She’s ridden the filly three times for three wins.”
Miracles of Life has come through her four-length Preview win well and has earned enough to pay the $55,000 late entry fee for the $1 million G1 Blue Diamond Stakes on February 23.
Winning it won’t be a new experience for Yaseen who won the 1999 Blue Diamond with his champion colt Redoute’s Choice.
Today Teeley Assets owns over 120 racehorses, mares, yearlings and weanlings. It’s a major bloodstock business founded on a 30 year friendship, an exceptional broodmare and a champion stallion.
“I was managing a TAB agency in East Melbourne and first met Mr Yaseen in 1983,” O’Farrell recalled. “He was staying nearby at the Hilton Hotel and would visit the TAB.
“One day he asked me if I drank tea. I said ‘Yes’ and then some very nice tea arrived. I got to know him better – he still sends me tea – then met his wife and family. My husband and I would sometimes join them at the races and so we became friends.”
When Yaseen called in 1992 and said he wanted to buy a horse, Iris began a remarkable transition from TAB agent to bloodstock manager. “My family emigrated from Malta in the 1950s and my mother used to have a daily double but I didn’t enjoy racing and knew little about it. When I began working in a TAB I didn’t even know what ‘each way’ meant!
“I knew nothing about buying or racing horses but I knew Bob Skelton through a friend of a friend and asked him to help us buy a filly called Go Gally Go. But unfortunately, she didn’t go at all!”
The following year Yaseen read an article about the likely top lot at the Melbourne Sale, a filly by Canny Lad from Dancing Show, and determined to buy her.
And buy her he did, for $220,000 with John Messara as the under-bidder. Named Shantha’s Choice, the filly won a race in Melbourne but an injury forced her into early retirement. Iris suggested she be mated with Danehill and in the spring of 1995 the mare was sent to the emerging super-sire.
The result was Redoute’s Choice and he was followed by two more Group 1 winning colts – Platinum Scissors and Manhattan Rain, G3 winner Sliding Cube and stakeswinner Echoes of Heaven. All were retained and raced by Yaseen and he remained a co-owner with Arrowfield of the now champion sire Redoute’s Choice.
Redoute’s Choice both funded and encouraged the establishment of the Teeley Assets broodmare band. “Mr Yaseen was mainly interested in racing but when Redoute’s Choice retired to stud, we needed to support him with mares. So we began buying them with advice from Les Young and Alan Porter.”
The Teeley Assets mares are based at Bellerive, Coolmore, Vinery and Widden Studs and in recent years they have also left Absolutely (G1 AJC Oaks), Packing OK (G3 Hong Kong), Precious Lorraine (G3 Adelaide) plus brilliant colt Lankan Rupee and Mount Zero who was a game fourth in the Blue Diamond Preview.
Miracles of Life is a grand-daughter of Snippets’ Jewel, purchased for $210,000 in 2005 from Vinery and then resold five years later after she had left four beautifully bred daughters that were all retained by Yaseen – Miracles of Life’s dam Dazzling Gazelle (More Than Ready), Scattered Dreams (Redoute’s Choice), Oscar Dreams (Redoute’s Choice) and This Is Your Life (Fastnet Rock).
Ten years retired from his busy and successful apparel business in Sri Lanka, Yaseen is content to keep a low profile, while working closely with Iris who is the public face of Teeley Assets. However, one task he reserves for himself is naming his horses, often recognisable by names connected with the rag trade, and phrases with slightly exotic or spiritual qualities.
Redoute’s Choice, for example, was named for one of his major business clients, the famous French mail order company La Redoute.
Miracles of Life rather aptly describes the serendipitous turn of events that put the filly in Daniel Clarken’s stable, and a jockey undaunted by a series of back injuries.
“We met Daniel after we bought Zodiac Queen and kept her in training with him for a few starts,” O’Farrell said. “We started sending him tried horses that couldn’t win in Melbourne and he did a good job with them, so we decided it was time to send him a couple of yearlings.”
Iris admits she didn’t truly appreciate the significance of Redoute’s Choice’s Blue Diamond victory but, after another 14 years in the bloodstock business, a second win, with a filly by a son of Redoute’s Choice, would be very special.
A miracle of life, indeed.
Iris O’Farrell with Daniel Clarken & Lauren Stojakovic celebrate at Caulfield
Photo / Bronwen Healy