IN Racing
Champion mare Ethereal still making her mark
Memories of the mighty mare Ethereal continue to be rekindled and most recently by the emergence of her gifted grandson Pericles.
Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | February 20, 2024

Memories of the mighty mare Ethereal continue to be rekindled and most recently by the emergence of her gifted grandson Pericles.

Bred and raced by Sir Peter Vela and his late brother Philip, Ethereal was the toast of the 2001 Melbourne spring carnival when she completed the famed Group One double of the Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Melbourne Cup (3200m).

Trainer Sheila Laxon had previously prepared the daughter of Rhythm to win the Gr.1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) and the curtain came down on her racing career in the wake of her 2002 victory in the Gr.1 BMW Stakes (2400m).

“She was gracefully retired and is still on the farm and looks great with quite a few of her direct family around her,” Pencarrow Stud manager Leon Casey said.

Six of Ethereal’s seven foals to race were subsequently successful, including stakes winner Seraphim and Group performers Uberalles, Duquesa and Imperium while her last foal was the unraced O’Reilly mare Empyrean.

“She showed a fair bit of promise at the trials, but she was a really big mare and she had a bit of knee trouble,” Casey said.

“We tried to get her through but ran out of time, so we decided to breed from her.”

Empyrean was sent to Rubick for her first mating with the result the Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard-trained Pericles, who at Ellerslie on Saturday won the Listed Uncle Remus Stakes (1200m), his third victory from seven appearances.

Pericles was part of the Pencarrow draft at the 2022 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale and was purchased for $110,000 by Paul Moroney Bloodstock and Ballymore Stables.

Empyrean’s colt by Ole Kirk was bought by Go Racing and Blandford Bloodstock for $200,000 at Karaka last month and the mare is currently in foal to Farnan.

An esteemed pedigree page also features the multiple Group winner Eleonora, dam of the talented stakes winer Ethereal Star, and the two-time Group Two winner and top-flight placegetter Supera.

“The family is going as well as ever and still playing a key role for us, Ethereal Star performed really well last season in those top two-year-old races,” Casey said.

“She was the first foal out of Eleonora, who won the Ethereal Stakes (Gr.3, 2000m) and the Sunline Vase (Gr.3, 2100m) and was third in the VRC Oaks (Gr.1, 2500m).”

Supera’s first foal by U S Navy Flag was knocked down to bloodstock agent Bruce Perry at Karaka last year for $230,000.

“It is still a very active family and, of course, you still have the influence of Darci Brahma and Burgundy who are one remove further back,” Casey said.

Five-time Group One winner and producer Darci Brahma was sold by Pencarrow at Karaka to David Ellis for $1.1 million and the Te Akau boss also purchased his Group-winning half-brother and ill-fated sire Burgundy for $1.3 million.

Ethereal Pericles Empyrean Rubick Gr.3 Shaw's Wire Ropes Uncle Remus Stakes Supera Ethereal Star Eleonora Sheila Laxon Sir Peter Vela Gr. 1 Caulfield Cup Gr.1 Melbourne Cup leon casey