‘She was the most naturally talented filly I’ve bought’: Espiona heads to Magic Millions Virtual Auction

5 min read
Group 1 winning mare Espiona (Extreme Choice) will be sold via a Magic Millions virtual auction on July 31 at 3pm in an unreserved sale.

Magic Millions will offer Group 1 winning mare Espiona (Extreme Choice) by virtual auction on July 31 with the auction beginning at 3pm. “We are delighted to offer Espiona on behalf of Denise Martin and the ownership group,” said Magic Millions’ Barry Bowditch.

Sold at the 2020 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale by Torryburn Stud to Star Thoroughbreds and Randwick Bloodstock (FBAA) for $190,000, Espiona won the 2023 G1 Coolmore Classic.

“We’ve followed her since we sold her here as a yearling. She’s always been a classy filly who raced at the elite level with a Group 1 win plus winning a feature race like The Invitation and over $3.3million. She’s outstandingly well credentialed to be a high class broodmare and should be sought after globally being by an exciting sire in Extreme Choice from a highly commercial Waikato family.”

Brilliant but unlucky race record

Trained by Chris Waller, Espiona wasn’t seen at the track until she was a spring 3-year-old but she quickly showed her presence with two wins in succession, the second being in the Listed Desirable S. Back in the autumn, Espiona ran second to Fangirl (Sebring) in the G2 Light Fingers S, then third in the G1 Surround S. to Hinged (Worthy Cause) and Startantes (Star Turn). Notably, this was only her fourth raceday start. She concluded her autumn with a win in the G3 James HB Carr S. to take her record to three wins from six starts.

At four, Espiona won the G1 Coolmore Classic and G3 Mannerism S. and at five, she returned to win the G2 Golden Pendant and The Invitation during the spring, then placed three times at Group 1 level this autumn, in the G1 Lightning S. (to Imperatriz (I Am Invincible) and Private Eye (Al Maher), the G1 Canterbury S. (to Lady Laguna (Overshare) and Think About It (So You Think {NZ}) and the G1 Doomben Ten Thousand (to Bella Nipotina (Pride Of Dubai).

She retires with seven wins and six placings from 24 starts with earnings over $3.3million, and importantly has proven Group 1 form.

“She was a very tough horse,” said Chris Waller. “But her racing pattern made it difficult to get the best from her. Like we saw this preparation, she was often in the company of the very best Australian sprinters, and she had enough ability to beat anything.

“She (Espiona) retires with seven wins and six placings from 24 starts with earnings over $3.3million, and importantly has proven Group 1 form.”

“She was lightly raced and certainly from a pedigree and ability perspective, she is as good as you need and certainly capable of producing very good quality colts and fillies which would hype their chance in Group 1 races.”

The upside of ownership

Star Thoroughbreds’ Denise Martin managed the syndicate who owned Espiona and she said, “A man in Melbourne had a share and he had a difficult few years in his life, but he wrote me a note to say, ‘She just meant so much to our family. We gave up suburban life for farm life and we’ve had so many lows, and she’s given us so many highs. Thanks Espiona.’ I’m reading his note with tears in my eyes. It’s only when you get things like that that you remember what she meant to people.

Denise Martin | Image courtesy of The Image Is Everything

“I’d say she was the most naturally talented filly I’ve bought and Brett Howard at Randwick Bloodstock helped me find her. Extreme Choice won the Blue Diamond so I thought he was a good chance at stud.

“My only disappointment was that she had no clear running in the TJ Smith, she ran into a wall of horses, and then after the post she was in front.”

A highly commercial pedigree

One of three Group 1 winners for Extreme Choice who has twelve stakes winners from only 134 foals of racing age, Espiona is from Extreme Choice’s first crop of 48 foals. This crop also includes G1 Golden Slipper winner Stay Inside, G2 BRC Sires’ Produce S. winner Tiger Of Malay and Group 3 winners Extremely Lucky and Extreme Warrior.

Extreme Choice | Standing at Newgate

Her dam, Dahooil (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}) was a winner at 1400m from only five starts, and is a sister to Listed winner Bonny O’Reilly (NZ) and a half-sister to Listed winner Pretty To Sea (NZ) (Ocean Park {NZ}). Dahooil’s dam, Pretty (NZ) (Pins) was also a winner, and is a half-sister to dual Group 1 winner Vision And Power (NZ) (Carnegie {Ire}), dual Group 1 winner Glamour Puss (NZ) (Tale Of The Cat {USA}) and two other stakes winners including Group 2 winner Rare Insight (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}), who is the dam of Group 1 winner Steps In Time (Danehill Dancer {Ire}).

Inspections before the sale

Espiona can be inspected at Brett Howard’s Glenesk Farm. “She’ll be at our place for inspections from Friday onwards, and since she’ll be sold online, she’ll be presented at our place during the sale. If anyone wants to come and inspect her, send me an email and work out a time. We are more than happy to show her to prospective buyers,” said Howard.

Espiona | Image courtesy of Ashlea Brennan

“She was a brilliant racemare and being by Extreme Choice who has the best stakes winners to runners stat for any active sire in Australia, and out of an O’Reilly mare who has the highest percentage of stakes winners to runners as a damsire. It’s a really good Waikato Stud family, maybe their best family.

“I honesty believe she was capable of winning The Everest, her run in the G1 TJ Smith this year was outstanding, she was desperately unlucky not to run a place. She was unlucky in The Everest last year too with (jockey) Hugh Bowman saying she was untested and only beaten two lengths. That’s the sort of ability she had.”

“She’s unreserved and it’s a genuine sale.”