Trainer Ed Dunlop has paid tribute to Classic heroine and seven-time Group One winner Ouija Board after her death at the age of 21.
The dark bay was by Cape Cross and was both bred and owned by Lord Derby having been foaled in March 2001 at his Stanley House Stud in Newmarket.
Her two-year-old season included a novice win and a placed Listed run, but it was as a three-year-old that she really came to the fore when taking Newmarket’s Pretty Polly Stakes before going on to an imperious victory in the Oaks at Epsom – a fantastic seven-length success in the fillies’ Classic.
That triumph was then followed by another in the Irish equivalent of the race, after which she was beaten only a length and a quarter when not afforded the smoothest passage through the 2004 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.
The Breeders’ Cup Filly And Mare Turf, held that season at Lone Star Park, followed, and from a field of 12 the filly prevailed when crossing the line a length and a half ahead of her nearest rival.
The following year she was campaigned internationally again, finishing runner-up when contesting the Breeders’ Cup Filly And Mare Turf for a second time before landing an impressive victory in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.
In her final season she mixed domestic Group Ones with those further afield, taking the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot before battling to land the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood by a short head from Alexander Goldrun.
After missing out on the Irish Champion Stakes by a neck as Dylan Thomas came out on top, Ouija Board then set sail for Churchill Downs and regained her Breeders’ Cup Filly And Mare Turf crown before making the final start of her career in the Japan Cup – coming home third behind Deep Impact and Dream Passport.
With 10 victories and over £3.5million amassed in prize money, Ouija Board went to stud upon retirement and most notably produced the Aidan O’Brien-trained Australia when paired with Ballydoyle’s Galileo.
The chestnut emulated his dam in winning a brace of Classics when taking the 2014 renewals of the Derby both at Epsom and the Curragh, with a Juddmonte International success following later in the same season.
“I owe her a huge, huge debt – she changed my life,” said Dunlop.
“I was very lucky to have been sent her, she won seven Group Ones all around the world. Breeders’ Cups, the Nassau and my first British Classic winner, it was an incredible time.
“She won a Breeders’ Cup at Lone Star Park, she then got beaten but she came back to win another one. She won in Hong Kong, she was third in the Japan Cup, it was an incredible time and and I was very, very lucky to be involved – we all were.
“She was twice Cartier horse of the year, she was a world champion turf filly, she won an Eclipse award. She won so many awards and she really was unbelievable.
“She had a fantastic temperament and she always worked brilliantly. We’ve only been talking about her race record so far, but she’s also a dual Oaks winner who then produced a dual Derby winner and that is very rare.
“She did everything and she was incredible, really, it’s very hard to talk about her in short form because she did so much and she did it all so well.”
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