Team Wallop at Royal Ascot
OH, WHAT A DREAM!
The remarkable story of Oh This Is Us, by Jess Stafford
Racehorse ownership; why do we do it? The unequivocal dream of owning a winner, the days out with friends and family and the possibility of getting on to the big stages.
Seven years ago four friends from London decided they wanted to take the punt and turn their enjoyment of going to the races into race horse ownership. A mutual friend would introduce one of the four, Stuart Finch to Richard Hannon and Ross Doyle and so the Oh This Is Us story would begin.
Finch recalls those early days, “We were put in contact with Ross and Richard who were very understanding of our lack of knowledge and guided us through the process. We didn’t have any strict requirements, we just wanted a horse that Richard would be excited to train for us.”
The dynamic Doyle/Hannon duo would make their way to the 2014 Goffs Orby Yearling sale where they were set on looking at a lot from Herbertstown Stud. This was a son of the mare Shamwari Lodge, who was trained by Richard Hannon Snr from 2008-2010. She was a classy, six time winning mare with success in two Listed victories and an exciting win in the Group 3 Equestrian Stakes at the Curragh under Richard Hughes. Her second foal was by the speedster Acclamation as Ross Doyle recollects, “he was a good looking, typical Acclamation type who ticked all the boxes.” The yearling was knocked down for €110,000 and turned out to be Oh This Is Us, the first horse owned by Team Wallop.
Oh This Is Us as a yearling at Herbertstown Stud
Naming horses can be a laborious yet crucial part of ownership. Coming up with something that links the sire and the dam is be one road to go down although can prove fairly redundant and limited. For Finch and his friends, it had to be a name that resonated with them, something that summed up their adventurous spirit and their fondness of not taking themselves too seriously. Finch says,
“We came up with Oh This Is Us as it is a bit of an in joke. It’s a saying which is meaningful to us as a group of friends and family.”
Oh This Is Us began his career in 2015 where finished 14 of 16 in a Windsor maiden under Richard Hughes in his last full season of race riding. He’d have three runs at two which ended with a third place effort and a mark of 70. It’s safe to say he was fairly well handicapped! His three year old season started off with a hat-trick of victories and he quickly rose to a rating of 92. The last of the three wins would be in the £100,000 Greatwood Handicap at Goodwood and the first under Hannon’s 18 year old apprentice of the time, a certain Tom Marquand who was proving fairly useful for his three pound claim.
Oh This Is Us wins the 2016 Greatwood Handicap under Tom Marquand
It was the start of a fantastic relationship and the pair would join forces for Team Wallop’s first experience at Royal Ascot in the Britannia Handicap where the horse finished 18th of 28. Regardless of the result, the first major raceday ownership experience had been ticked off with Team Wallop’s first horse in training. What more can you ask for? Well, Oh This Is Us had bigger days ahead.
Tom Marquand and Oh This Is Us go down to the start ahead of the 2016 Britannia at Royal Ascot
As a three year old he kept on rolling with two wins under Sean Levey, one in the heat of the Summer at Newmarket and the other on the last day of the season at Doncaster. Oh This Is Us would bookend his season in perfect fashion, leaving him on a mark of 105, 35 pounds higher than when he had started the season as well as a remarkable five wins from ten runs.
The following year in 2017, his season began with a trip to Meydan with a third in a good handicap and a fast finishing fifth in the Compressor Trophy. A good pipe opener for the season ahead which would unravel pleasingly, from second in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster to pattern races and a victory in the Listed Spring Trophy with Marquand on board, now a fully-fledged professional. A first Listed success for horse and the rider.
In June, Pat Dobbs would ride Oh This Is Us for his go in Group 1 company with Team Wallop returning to Royal Ascot for a particularly fast and furious renewal of the Queen Anne Stakes. He made up a lot of ground that day to finish eighth to Ribchester.
Team Wallop, Oh This Is Us and Pat Dobbs
Oh This Is and Marquand paired up for another trip to Dubai for Carnival season in 2018. The pair struck gold in the same Handicap the horse was 3rd in the year before. That ride gave the 20 year old his first win in Meydan, another first courtesy of his trusted partner. A placed effort followed two weeks later at the track in the National Plate Trophy before returning home for his fourth season in training. The highlights included two victories at Chester, one under Marquand in the City Plate Stakes and the other under Harry Bentley where he showed his class to defy top weight from an impossible high draw. The season ended with a trip abroad to Longchamp on Arc weekend where he finished second in the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein and a sixth placed effort in the Group 2 Premio Vittorio di Capua at San Siro.
Oh This Is Us’ six year old season was his busiest and most fruitful, with fifteen runs three wins and four seconds. Nestled in there was a big pay day at Lingfield where he scooped £93,375 for his win in the All-Weather Mile Championship again under a great ride by Marquand. That effort saw him achieve a lofty handicap mark of 113, the highest of his career. He’d continue to pay his with big dividends with a fast finishing 2nd in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom on Derby Day and a win and a runner up effort back at his favoured Chester.
The 2020 season was stop start for all but Oh This Is Us would continue to earn prize money with three runs in September alone including a runner up effort at Chelmsford with Luke Catton on board and a win back at the same track under with another former apprentice of the yard in Ryan Moore.
Oh This Is Us and Tom Marquand dig deep to win in Meydan in February 2018
At the age of eight, and still a full horse, something rarely seen in flat thoroughbreds, Oh This Is Us continues to perform at the highest level. On his first start back on turf this year, he was a fast finishing second, beaten a head to Overwrite who he was giving over a stone to. If that effort made the horse look as good as ever, the gamest and the most admirable performance came last week in the Listed Paradise Stakes at Ascot, a course he has previously been luckless on.
Tom Marquand magic at 66/1! Oh This Is Us wins at Ascot... - YouTube
Oh This Is Us was sent off the 66/1 outsider of the field, an insult for a horse like him despite the fact he had the services of Marquand on his back. In typical Marquand/Oh This Is Us style the pair rolled back the years with a determined effort, horse and rider all out at the line to win by a head. A tremendous effort, proving how genuine and tough the horse is. Commenting after the race Marquand said,
“He was the first good horse I rode as a youngster. Every year since I've managed to pinch a big one on him. He's been an incredible horse and a great flagship for the Richard Hannon yard."
Oh This Is Us wins the 2019 All-Weather Mile Championship at Lingfield
Talking about the Tom Marquand partnership and that win at Ascot, Finch says,
“He has a really great relationship with the horse. He brings out the best in him and vice versa. We are always excited to get Tom. It’s not as easy to get him now! None of us are serious gamblers but I would always have a bet on him, even if he looks out of his depth. That horse should never be 66/1 based on what he’s achieved over the years. But it’s not really about that. Whether he wins at even money or 66/1 it’s just a massive thrill to see him win. We are really privileged to have him.”
The gutsy nature of the horse was further epitomised at Epsom on Derby Day. Marquand returned to the saddle for the Group 3 Diomed Stakes and the pair attempted to go one better than their 2nd place in 2017. Despite facing unfavoured good to soft ground and overlooked in the market at 18/1, Oh This Is Us travelled through the race strongly. Facing a less than easy passage, Marquand had to angle out to find a gap, but once he was free, horse and jockey were persistent and tough, battling hard to get to the favourite Century Dream. With all efforts including a flapping tongue, Oh This Is Us’s tenacity got him there to win by a nose, his tightest victory to date. A well-deserved first Group victory in his customary battle-hardened style which, brought his career earnings over the £700,000 mark. Yet another superb achievement from this relentlessly game horse who cemented his legendary status on the world famous stage.
Oh this is us 18/1 shot win Cazoo Diomed Stakes - YouTube
Oh This Is Us wins the 2021 Group 3 Diomed Stakes by a nose
At the age of eight and a massive seventy two runs under his belt, the story of Oh This Is Us has been the gift that keeps on giving. Sixteen wins, twenty two placed efforts and over £700,000 in prize money makes him one of, if not the most consistent horses in training with a penchant for finishing late and fast.
For Team Wallop, the attraction of horse ownership was about the day out and the new experiences they would get. From humble beginnings to Royal Ascot, Derby Day, Meydan, Longchamp and San Siro, Oh This Is Us has taken Team Wallop to the biggest stages around the world,
“Coming in to racing, we were pretty realistic, we thought if we could just get a few good days out of it with family and friends that would be great. Anything above that was going to be a bonus. To see him win once is really the dream so to have fifteen wins is just incredible. He’s become a really high profile horse and deserves it.”
The Team Wallop syndicate have reinvested too and waiting in the wings to run for the team is Oh Herberts Reign, a two year old colt bred on very similar lines to Oh This Is Us, being by his sire Acclamation and out of his half-sister Western Safari.
Team Wallop at Royal Ascot
Oh This Is Us continues to thrive, surprise and ooze class. A horse that has repaid his owners in spades, he has kept going at the highest level for six seasons and looks capable of continuing on in the same trajectory for some time to come. As for his owners, an enthusiastic and appreciative group of friends who have struck gold with their first horse, they are one story that epitomises the joy and thrills of racehorse ownership, proving how lucky you can get if you are willing to give it a go.