Above Sapphire Sioux (De Gaulle) trained by Greg Eurell
She’s yet to hit the race track, but blue eyed and white faced Sapphire Sioux has become something of a sensation after being unveiled on social media last week.
On her dazzling looks alone, the two-year-old chestnut filly is destined to garner a cult following and it will continue to grow if she can gallop.
And the man responsible for her racing career, Cranbourne trainer Greg Eurell, is no stranger to getting a uniquely coloured horse to the races and accepting the publicity and adulation that comes with training an equine favourite that developed a cult following and brought people to the races.
Eurell trained eight-time Group 1 winner Apache Cat (Lion Cavern x Tennessee Blaze). The baldy-faced chestnut finished his career with prizemoney of nearly $4.6 million.
Sapphire Sioux was bred by Richard Anderson of Quilly Park at Pearcedale and is by his stallion De Gaulle and out of the mare Rubyone (Testa Rossa x Betterthanblushing) which Quilly Park owned at the time.
“She is now with Greg Eurell and has been broken in and had all the pre-training done at Eric Musgrove’s and was handled here at Quilly Park by the staff during the weanling stage before she got broken in,” Anderson said.
“Greg Eurell put her up on Facebook the other day and based on the reaction I said why don’t we see if anyone wants to come in to the lease.
“It’s gone nuts on social media.”
Eurell described Sapphire Sioux as a lovely filly and expects her to make her debut as a three-year-old and doubts whether she’ll race this time in as she hasn’t yet had a full preparation.
He said the aim was to have the filly fully educated and it would be a more realistic target to have her ready to go as a three-year-old.
Eurell isn’t fazed by De Gaulle being unraced and believes those sorts of things sometimes work out.
“He is certainly a bit of an unknown and when everyone says who is she by and you say De Gaulle, they are left scratching their heads and it’s fair enough too,” he said.
“She is a nicely bred horse and it could work. Richard puts a fair bit into his mares.”
Eurell said he looked forward to staring into the binoculars to watch the filly work and looking at a big white blaze going around the Cranbourne training track.
“It’s incredible as to how many were onto her when she popped up onto the screen and she had a fantastic response,” he said of the Facebook post on his Cadet Lodge account.
“It’s amazing to forget good horses in the system and their achievements but Apache Cat is certainly stuck in a few good memories undoubtedly for a few reasons – his ability, his colour and I think his name.”
Eurell said he’d have a happy bunch of owners if Sapphire Sioux had half of Apache Cat’s ability.
When Sapphire Sioux appeared on Facebook offering some shares in her, they were all gone in an hour.
“We could have sold her three times over,” Eurell said.
“It was an incredible response and I’m sure she is going to have her own little fan club, that’s for sure.
“And it’s a good name too, I really like it.”
Anderson said the filly was foaled down at James O’Brien’s Lauriston Thoroughbred Farm at Corinella and is out of the first crop of the stallion, De Gaulle (Exceed and Excel x Response), which stands at Bombora Downs.
He said everyone deserves a bit of luck. De Gaulle was unraced and is half-brother to Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) winner Estijaab (Snitzel x Response.)
Anderson said it was a big risk to buy the stallion and they’ve been looking forward to getting his progeny to the races.
He said Sapphire Sioux either sleeps or walks fast and there is nothing in between.
“You can tell by her coat that she is not stressed with the change of environment and it’s as shiny as and she is eating everything and she is loving it and knows she is something special,” he said.
“Whether you can run, who knows?”
Anderson said he was going to name the filly Sapphiretwo because her mother was Rubyone, but everyone was saying “it’s Apache, it’s Apache”
“But I said it’s not and called her Sapphire Sioux,” he said.
Anderson said they bought De Gaulle three years ago and it came about through Tim Brown of Magic Millions.
“My partner John Pratt and I said to him thanks for the opportunity and I said you should stay in because I believe this horse could make it on the breeding,” he said.
“Estijaab hadn’t even run then when we did the deal. Based on the breeding, we thought here we go.
“If you look at his three trials, he obviously had some ability.”
Estijaab, a mare, was sold for $1.7 million at the 2017 Australian Easter Yearling Sale.
Anderson said De Gaulle’s service fee at Bombora Downs is $5000, plus GST.
The stallion served 23 mares in his first season, 26 in his second and 39 in his third season last year.
“He has been supported, absolutely,” Anderson said.
“We got about 17 outside mares this year. The third year is always the intriguing year.
“Eric Musgrove has leased one. Trevor Rogers has got three. I don’t know what my partner has done with his but the other one is in Adelaide with John O’Connor.
“It’s all exciting.
His first runner, Aeroport (Varone), made his debut in a two-year-old race at Murray Bridge in October. He finished fifth in the six horse field over 900, but Anderson said the gelding went off his food the night before the race but he told the trainer it would be good for his education to race.
“Another one I’ve got, Rue Lepic, has won a trial and run second in a trial,” he said.
“She just lost a bit of concentration and she has got some ability,
“The others, outside of Sassy, that’s what we call Sapphire Sioux, will be early three-year-olds or late three-years-olds.”
Anderson said they had a cracking De Gaulle colt out of Group 2 winning mare Avienus which will be offered for sale in Melbourne next year.
“And we are selling our best looking filly at Magic Millions Adelaide,” he said.
“And another two fillies will go to the VOBIS Gold sale.
“I wish I could keep the Avienus colt. He looks like his mother and runs like him.”
Anderson said they had just built new stables at Quilly Park and his philosophy is he can’t take anything with him, but what can he leave behind.
He said he was trying to leave behind an equine facility which will stand the test of time after he toured Europe, including Germany and France, to do research on how they did things.
“I have tried to do that here, but only on a boutique scale as I only want to breed eight a year,” Anderson.
“At this stage the infrastructure is still going.”
Anderson said they wanted to provide the educational processes from birth forward and then let the horses go to the breakers or the sales.
He believes there are a number of hobby breeders who want good facilities, care and services for their horses.
Quilly Park is in its 13th year.