Billesdon Brook (Photo)
There must be some magic in the grass and land at Stowell Hill Stud – just south of Wincanton racecourse in Somerset. From just a handful of fillies raised in those sheltered paddocks such stars as BILLESDON BROOK (Gr1 1,000 Guineas and Gr3 Prestige Stakes), WITH YOU (Gr1 Rothschild Stakes for George Strawbridge), ANNA NERIUM (Gr3 Dick Poole Stakes, Gr.3 Supreme Stakes and LR European Free H’cap), and BILLESDON BESS (LR Upavon Stakes) have been exceptional last year and in 2017.
Jeanette McCreery had dreamt in January that her Billesdon Brook would win the 1,000 Guineas – she immediately phoned her late husband Bob’s bookmaker and took the 50/1 on offer. Several Pall Mall Partners (who lease 50% of the filly) followed suit. The early plan, as she was rated 100, was to enter for the Free H’cap but for some reason the BHA dropped her rating to 99 which made her ineligible. So Anna Nerium took her place and outclassed a field of useful colts. Billesdon Brook was a promising fourth in the Nell Gwynon that same afternoon and then a decision had to be made on whether to go for the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, the 1,000 or the longer Pretty Polly Stakes. With Anna Nerium (Tom Marquand) in the McCreery colours, it was thought Pall Mall would probably never have another chance to have a runner in the Classic so both were declared to run with Sean Levey in the saddle.
Drawn next to one another in stalls 7 and 8, both fillies were held up but by half way it seemed Billesdon Brook was going extremely well. Sean asked her for an effort going into the Dip and she quickened impressively to outclass three Group 1 winners. A very proud Tony Gorman, Wayne Kavanagh and her devoted lass Bryony accompanied the victors back to a great reception in the Winners’ Enclosure. Her rating went up 16lbs to 115 and she maintained that rating throughout the season.
Anna Nerium had to wait for soft ground and she again beat the colts when winning the Gr3 Supreme Stakes at Goodwood in late August. She was also a close second in the Gr3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom.
Both Anna Nerium and Billesdon Brook will return to Herridge after their winter holidays at Stowell Hill and will be aimed at any suitable Group races around a mile plus at home and abroad.
September set backs: Mrs McCreery sponsored a 7 furlong fillies race at Salisbury on 6th in memory of her late husband Bob. There was a massive entry for the valuable Class 2 contest and Jeanette’s two homebred fillies were balloted out! Worse was to come as both fillies were also “chaffered” out at Salisbury and later on were again balloted out at Salisbury and Newbury.
The winner of the Bob McCreery Memorial Stakes was Manuela De Vega, who went on to win a Listed Race and gain a BHA rating of 99. Could she emulate Billesdon Brook and land the 1,000 Guineas next May?
Tattersalls December Sales proved to be an exciting end to an extraordinary year. Stud manager David Ludlow and team travelled up to Park Paddocks with a colt by Oasis Dream and a filly by Frankel and they were offered under the Stowell Hill banner. The grey colt out of Ronaldshay made 87,000 gns to a bid from Peter & Ross Doyle and the much sought after filly out of the Group winning 2yo Middle Club made 700,000 gns to Hugo Lascelles who was acting for Lady Bamford.
Then four days later the Stakes winning Billesdon Bess (half-sister to the Guineas winner) was offered to dissolve the partnership between Jeanette and Richard Hannon Snr. Bidding opened at 100,000 gns and after a sustained battle it was the bid of James Wigan at 800,000 gns secured her for a client in Pennsylvania.
Not bad for a filly who had walked round the same ring in February 2016 unwanted at 3,000 gns!
With the bloodstock world getting evermore selective, Jeanette McCreery has reduced the number of mares at Stowell Hill and is very much concentrating on quality. When Billesdon Brook and Anna Nerium join the band in 2019, the average rating of her mares will be over 100. The two mares rated under 100 have both produced Group winners already and Coplow was Racing Post’s Broodmare of the Year in 2017. All but one of the Stakes winning mares at Stowell Hill will have been trained at Herridge by either Snr or Jnr Richard Hannon.
With the reduction in numbers, there will be an opportunity to take in one or two boarders there in the future. The stud has an incredible record for producing sound classy runners at the highest level.