By Brad Gray
Jot this name down. Artefiori.
The three-year-old filly, who is set to trial for the first time at Scone on Thursday, is one of only two foals from Ortensia before she died in June last year.
Artefiori, sired by Choisir, will wear the same orange and white silks and black cap now synonymous with her triple Group One winner mother. Those three victories were across three different continents and in the twilight of her career under the care of Paul Messara and his then travelling foreman Leah Gavranich.
“She is a lovely mover and has so many traits that she has inherited off the old mare,” Gavranich, who is now Messara’s stable foreman, said, “She moves the same and changes leads the same. The old mare used to stop all the time. You’d go out to work and she would walk 20 metres and then stop and just look. This filly does the exact same thing. You can give her a little dig but she won’t move until she is ready. It’s freakish. She is like a mini Ortensia and reminds me of her every day.”
“She is an unbelievable size for a first foal and a cracking type. She has a huge shoulder and hindquarter on her. Her work has been nice and she has shown us good ability but we haven’t pressed the button by any means. She might have the one trial this preparation and then go out or we might give her a couple and then go onto the races but she’ll dictate how far she gets this time in.
“We have given her two jump outs on the course proper at Scone and she has shown great barrier speed surprisingly given Ortensia wasn’t that sharp out of the gates. We’ll look to just cuddle in behind and then track up under her own steam and hold her together.”
Artefiori, whose name carries the same floral theme as Ortensia, is owned by the same people who raced Ortensia, with the exception of one extra name in the race book – Miss L K Gavranich.
“We were in Newmarket and we were having dinner before Ortensia ran in the July Cup and Alistair (Fraser), her most prominent owner, approached me and he said that he’d been talking to his partner Emma (Ridley), who also had a share in Ortensia, and they said that when she goes home and has her first foal we’d like to give you a share. Just to say thank you for looking after the mare, travelling with her, and everything I’ve done for her,” recalled Gavranich, who spent seven months with Ortensia overseas.
“I was gobsmacked. That’s an amazing gift and unbelievably generous. You can’t even put a price on that really but the value being by a multiple Group One winner out of a multiple Group One winner – if she went through a sale, which she never would, but if she did she could be anywhere up from half a million. Taking 10 per cent of that, I honestly still can’t believe it.
“At least once a month I’ll still go back and watch (Ortensia’s) Group One replays. Especially if I’m having a terrible day. Paul sometimes does it too. It might be 10pm at night and he will send through a replay or photo of when we were overseas. Those times I’ll never forget and they’ll always be there because I keep replaying over and over in my mind and it stays fresh.”
From the unique way Artefiori “splashes her lips” in her water bucket before eating her feed, to her robust profile to her deep bay colourings and single white dot on her head, the similarities are seemingly endless. But can she gallop like her mum?
“You are probably talking to the wrong person. Nothing improves a horse like horse ownership, as they say,” laughed Gavranich.
“I can’t wait to just get her out there but we won’t be doing much (on Thursday) other than to give her a look around and see how she goes from there.
“We have been mindful to not put too much pressure on her as the old mare could be quite hot in temperament at times. It was her way or the highway and you’d have to work with her. If you ever worked against her you found yourself in a spot of bother. It’s a little bit similar with this filly in that we’ve taken her along steadily.
“Alistair said to us that Ortensia won three Group Ones when she was six and seven so don’t rush her. You’ve got all the time in the world.”
The second Ortensia filly is a two-year-old sired by Dream Ahead who looks “nothing like the mare.”
“Ortensia was in foal to Redoute’s Choice which she lost a couple of weeks before she lost her life. They put her to sleep. She had a tumour on her lungs so it was obviously the right thing to do and they buried her at the owner’s little property.”