By Brad Gray
What separates She Will Reign from most of her two-year-old rivals? She’s fast, adaptable and has a brilliant turn of speed. However, her track rider’s dulcet tones could very well be her secret weapon.
Glenn Lee is a journeyman. Adopting the familiar racing supposition ‘have saddle will travel’, Lee started as an apprentice jockey in Central Queensland before stints riding work for John Hawkes, James Cummings, Peter Snowden and even spending four years pre-training in Japan. Now he finds himself with Gary Portelli at Warwick Farm and has been paired with star filly She Will Reign from the very beginning of her journey.
An adoring She Will Reign with Glenn Lee
“I’ve ridden her all the way through but for the first two or three days. She was a little bit naughty at the start so from then on I started riding her work and I’ve been on her basically every morning since,” said Lee.
“I remember the first time we ever galloped her at Warwick Farm and Gary was up in the tower and he said to me ‘we’ve got something here, she ran some pretty quick time’ but the funny thing was that I still had another two gears up my sleeve.
“We knew from the word go that we had something special.”
Now for the singing. Most mornings, Lee serenades ‘Daisy’ – the stable name of She Will Reign – as she heads under the tunnel and out to gallop on the track.
— Glenn Lee (@glennrlee71) March 12, 2017
“She responds to it. She knows me pretty well now and my voice so as soon as I start singing you can see her ears start twitching around. I’ve been in racing for 30 odd years riding and as I’ve got older I’ve realised love and kindness goes a lot further than getting up horses.”
“I started singing to her as a calming influence, just to get to relax for me.
“I mentioned it a few times to the owners that I was singing. A lot of them are first time owners and with the media raps and her then unbeaten record, a little bit of pressure was going on them so I also did it to lighten up the mood for them all.
“Don’t Worry, Be Happy (originally performed by Bobby McFerrin) is the one I sing the most because it’s the one I remember the most!”
Lee threw his leg over the likes of Lonhro, Freemanson and Yell through the years of the Ingham racing empire and holds a soft spot for “the old boy Precedence”, however his relationships with She Will Reign is different.
“Riding for big stables you always get to ride good horses somewhere along the track but you don’t get the opportunity very often to ride one from the word go and all the way through. They are the things you dream of doing in racing,” said Lee.
With Portelli in Hong Kong preparing Rebel Dane, it was Lee who saddled up She Will Reign for her Kembla Grange debut, before watching the owners “nearly tear the grandstand down”. Lee has since struck up a close friendship with the massive group brought together by Darby Racing syndication.
“They’ve come from everywhere. There are some from Tasmanian, Adelaide, Perth and there’s quite a few I haven’t met but they’ll all be there on Golden Slipper day.”
“After she won the Silver Slipper I thought I might get a little daisy lapel to wear to the races. I mentioned it on their Facebook page (yes, She Will Reign has her own Facebook page) to see if anybody was interested and I gave out 150 of them! I was quite overwhelmed by the response.”
It has been an easy week for She Will Reign since her second in the Riesling Stakes, in testing conditions, but Lee was again on her back this morning (Monday) to give her a trot around and reported she “is ready to go.”
“She is the brightest she has been for a while,” Lee added.
She Will Reign's Riesling second to Frolic