Kiwi mare Polly Grey is returning home, but this time it is for good.
The nine-year-old mare has a date with leading New Zealand sire Proisir but her connections are hoping she can snare some further elite-level success before she retires to the broodmare paddock.
Initially trained in New Zealand by co-owner Kylie Fawcett, Polly Grey won six races for the Matamata horsewoman, including the Listed Matamata Cup (1600m), and also placed in the Gr.2 Japan Trophy (1600m) and Gr.3 Thompson Handicap (1600m).
With the country going into lockdown in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fawcett elected to send her mare over to leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller in Australia, where racing continued.
The move has proven to be a masterstroke, with Polly Grey going on to win a further five races over the last three years, including the Gr.3 Epona Stakes (1900m), Listed Gosford Cup (2100m), Listed Lord Mayors Cup (2000m, Listed ATC Cup (2000m) and Gr.3 JRA Plate (2000m).
“At the time, around COVID, with our industry shutting down, it was just a no-brainer to send her there and it has paid off,” Fawcett said.
“She has won five races over there and they have all been black-type races.”
The daughter of Azamour was also Group placed on several occasions, including a hit-and-run mission on last year’s Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2050m) at Pukekohe, where she finished third behind Defibrillate.
“All we needed was a drop of rain (for the Zabeel Classic),” Fawcett said. “It was about 300m away in the distance, but it didn’t hit the track. She went a really good race on that Good track.”
Polly Grey has subsequently returned to Sydney, and while she is pleasing Waller ahead of the spring, Sydney’s unseasonably warm weather has been far from ideal for her build-up.
“He (Waller) is very happy with her. He is almost the happiest he has ever been in terms of how she is training and her general wellbeing. He is just waiting for some rain to line her up,” Fawcett said.
“She is nominated to race at Hawkesbury on Thursday, but we have scratched the last four times because they are having a winter-summer over there and the tracks have been a Good4 every time she has been due to race.
“She is all dressed up with nowhere to go unfortunately.
“I can guarantee we will bring her back to New Zealand and dry the country out.”
Polly Grey is nominated for all three Group One races over the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival and Fawcett is hoping the weather plays its part for her mare.
“She is nominated for those races, but we are not going to be competitive until we probably get up to that mile (Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate).
“She is coming back because she is going to Proisir. If we get conditions to suit, she will race on for a bit. If it doesn’t, she will be retired.”
Fawcett said they were weighing up their options with stallions on both sides of the Tasman and settled on Rich Hill Stud stallion Proisir as their ideal first mating for their Group One performer.
“When we were comparing stallions in Australia at similar money, he was still coming up as the best value,” she said.
“We thought we would send her to him and give her a really good go.
“If we get a nice colt, we might put them through the sales, but at this stage we are breeding to race with John and Margaret Thompson.”
Fawcett rates Polly Grey as the best horse she has been associated with and would love for her to go out on a winning note.
“I bred and raced My Keepsake, who won a Group One, but I think Polly was capable of winning a Group One in the right conditions, but we have never seemed to get those perfect conditions,” she said.
“When we were getting them and she was really in-form, the races over there were starting to get abandoned because it was just that wet.”
While Fawcett is looking forward to cheering home Polly Grey at Hastings, she is hoping to have a presence at the carnival with members of her own team.
She believes last start ITM/GIB 3YO Winter Championship Final (1600m) winner Delorean is starting to come of age and she is hoping to seal a trip south with the mare with a pleasing showing at Ruakaka this weekend.
“I am running Delorean at Ruakaka on Saturday. There is a 75 fillies and mares race over a mile, so she is going to go back there,” Fawcett said.
“If she keeps trucking along and going well, I will try and find a race for her at Hastings.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see her go over 2000m, which is just incredible because as a two-year-old I had her pencilled as a 1200m two-year-old sprinter and that would be it.
“I always thought she had the potential, but she was just doing a lot wrong and had a couple of unfortunate runs as a two-year-old where she didn’t learn anything.
“We have had to sacrifice a few runs to try and get her right and hopefully next Saturday we have done that."