Awapuni trainer Lucy Tanner will be rubbing shoulders with some of Australia’s most prominent racing identities on Saturday.
She will be on course at Randwick to cheer on her Proisir mare Belle Plaisir, whose place in the A$2 million The Invitation (1400m) was confirmed on Tuesday.
“It’s blown me away to be honest, it really is amazing and a once in a lifetime opportunity so I’m going over to watch her,” Tanner said.
Belle Plaisir’s call-up to The Invitation continues the dream run Tanner and her co-owner Lance Hickman have enjoyed in Australia with their six-year-old.
“The whole thing with her has been a life-changing journey for us,” Tanner said.
Belle Plaisir has been in the care of Tony and Calvin McEvoy for more than 12 months and the Ballarat trainers fielded the out of the blue phone call from the Australian Turf Club with the race invite, which was quickly accepted.
“That was a really pleasant surprise for us, quite incredible and we’re very happy to have her in the race,” Tony McEvoy said.
“She will be third-up and she ran very, very well the other day and I’m sure she’ll run a competitive race.”
McEvoy was referring to Belle Plaisir’s effort to finish a last-start runner-up in the Gr.3 Ladies’ Day Vase (1600m) at Caulfield.
“She hasn’t run a bad race since she’s been here and she doesn’t like the firm ground, but when she gets anything in the soft range she is very effective,” he said.
Tanner prepared Belle Plaisir to win her first four races and following the mare’s success in the Listed Rangitikei Gold Cup (1600m) in May of last year she received an unexpected call from McEvoy.
He was keen to further Belle Plaisir’s career in Australia and a deal was subsequently done by Tanner and Hickman to lease a share to McEvoy’s Kildalton Park Racing.
The arrangement has proved beneficial to all parties with Belle Plaisir winning two of her nine starts, including the Gr.3 R A Lee Stakes (1600m) at Morphettville.
“Tony is a real salt of the earth type of guy, he is very straight up and personable,” Tanner said.
“We always know where we’re at and he’s great with the communication and it’s just been excellent.
“When we originally made the agreement for him to take the horse, I said to him you are the trainer and we’ll sit back and you tell us what you’re doing and where you’re going and we’re happy with whatever decisions are made.
“She had that Listed win and now she’s got a Group win and a Group second.”
Belle Plaisir will return to her Ballarat base after her Sydney sojourn with future options to add to her black-type record and further boost her future broodmare value.
“She has been nominated for the Empire Rose Stakes (Gr.1, 1600m) at Flemington and there’s also a race for her on Melbourne Cup day,” Tanner said.
“We’ll play that by ear and the most important thing is to get this weekend out of the way and see how she comes through the race.
“Then it will be up to Tony and if he decides if she starts over the Melbourne Cup carnival or not.”
Out of the winning Zeditave mare Eden, Belle Plaisir was purchased out of breeder Fairdale Stud’s Book 2 draft at Karaka in 2018 for $32,000.
“She will come back to New Zealand next year in foal to an Australian sire and hopefully I can broker a deal with a stud here to look after her,” Tanner said.
“She’s definitely coming home, she is solely owned by Lance and I with the McEvoy team having an interest in her for the duration of her racing career.”