JESSICA Jell of Mauritzfontein Stud has her hands full with activities on the Kimberley farm, her baby daughter and her husband, Steven, but she took time to answer a few queries after her Oaks (and Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara win), with Summer Pudding.
TT: How does it feel to have owned and bred (in partnership with Wilgerbosdrift) a Triple Tiara winner in less than 5 years at the helm of Mauritzfontein?
JJ: “I couldn’t tell you how it feels because the victory has definitely not sunk in yet. We are all so over excited and in awe to be honest. Summer Pudding has been amazing and how Paul Peter managed to have her spot on for the race on the 4th of April and then keep her on the boil for two months to win like that, is a real feather in his cap as a trainer. He and his team have clearly put so much time and effort into keeping ‘The Pudding’ fit, well and happy and so all accolades go to them.
“I don’t think fillies can win all three legs of the Tiara unless they (obviously have the ability) but are happy in themselves and enjoying life and work – that’s all thanks to Paul and Tony. Also hats off to Patrick her groom, he is a star too, and incidentally was Cherry On The Top’s groom so he is no stranger to the pressures of the Tiara. For Mauritzfontein it is incredible, and Mike (Sharkey), Nigel and Gail (Page) are all over the moon too. The Cherry family are our pride and joy and its incredibly to have two such closely related Tiara winners. A special thank you needs to go to Gail too, when the Pudding sliced her leg open as a yearling, Gail spent months nursing her back to health – it’s really all turned into a fairytale story. Mum and I can take zero credit for Summer Pudding’s success but a lot of wonderful people have helped her to get where she is and to them, I am eternally grateful.”
TT: How do you feel about racing’s immediate future?
JJ: “Change is always terrifying and its so easy to worry about the unknown but to be honest I feel more optimistic now about racing’s future, than I have in decades. We hit rock bottom, we all now know that, but aside from making sure we do not make the same mistakes again, it is important to look forward and not backwards. The Task team is made up of some exceptional people, all of whom have real integrity and drive. I feel so lucky to have people like them working so hard for all of us in getting things on the right track. They are having to make hard decisions and are working tirelessly because they really care. So many of us are quick to comment from the sidelines but they are doers and they have the greater good of the industry at heart. I am in awe and grateful beyond description. If there has ever been a time for the rest of us to come together and bring our positive “A games” to the party, it is now.”
TT: “You have long been excited about your imported stallion, Danon Platina. Tell us.
JJ: “Obviously I hope that Danon Platina becomes a champion sire. I am from the Jehan Malherbe school though and he has always taught me how many things have to go your way for a stallion to make it and become successful. I am a realist in terms of the statistics and so now we wait and see. What Danon does have in his favour are both a pedigree and temperament of a champion and so we are all hugely positive and just very excited about his future. He is by Deep Impact out of Badeelah who is by Unbridled’s Song. Recently you would have all seen Contrail winning the Japanese Derby and he is bred on exactly the same lines (Deep Impact out of an Unbridled’s Song mare).
“Deep Impact is a superstar sire and we are just so excited to have one of his Group 1 winning sons in Danon Platina – Jehan managing to secure him for our syndicate is in itself a triumph! More recently the Yasuda Kinen Gr.1 (250 Million yen) was also won by a Deep Impact – he is just unbelievable. I can’t wait for the first of his foals to be born this season. The first of our mares to be covered by Danon Platina last year was actually Cherry On The Top. We have sent some of our best mares to Danon Platina, we believe in him and now all we can do is cross fingers and wait.”