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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SUNDAY: December 10, 2023: A pair of French expats and a former leading New Zealand jockey provided an international flavour to lightly-raced filly Dubai Empress’ Hawkesbury breakthrough today.

Local trainer Marc Chevalier trains Dubai Empress for Starblue Consultancy’s founder Adrien Senechaud, who employs 16-times Group 1 winning rider Brian Hibberd, whose major Australian triumphs were the Australian Oaks at Randwick on Domino and Victoria Derby on Fire Oak (both in 1990), as his bloodstock manager.

Tyler Schiller, who won both the Hawkesbury junior and senior riding premierships last season, partnered the three-year-old filly in her gutsy victory in the Linmark Air Conditioning Midway Maiden Handicap (1300m), at only her second start.

After placings with his three runners last weekend – including stable star Torrens in the Listed Christmas Cup (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens – Chevalier clinched his first winner of the season, and gave Schiller a huge wrap.

“I offered the ride first to Alysha Collett, who rode Dubai Empress on debut at Canterbury last month, but she had bookings at the Nowra Cup Showcase meeting today,” Chevalier explained.

“So I hoped Tyler would be available, and was delighted to be able to book him. It was a genius ride overcoming the filly’s outside barrier, and then getting her wider on the track in the straight to make her run.”

Dubai Empress ($6) sustained a determined burst and was brave in holding out $2.05 favorite Wymark, whilst fellow Hawkesbury trainers Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard finished third with Irish Anthem ($21).

Chevalier not only was pleased to add his name to the winning list this season, but also to get a breakthrough for Senechaud’s Starblue Consultancy.

“Adrien rode both on the flat and over the jumps in France, and was riding work for Danny O’Brien in Melbourne when I was assistant trainer before relocating to Hawkesbury and taking out my own licence,” Chevalier said.

[JC1] “Brian (Hibberd) bought this filly for $45,000 at the Magic Millions yearling sale last year, and a syndicate was formed to race her.

“Tyler said he could hear the cheering from some of the owners as she fought out the finish.

“Starblue is now one of my major clients. I have five horses for them, including Criminal Art, who has been placed five times and is now back in work.”

Chevalier didn’t rush Dubai Empress, a three-year-old daughter of dual Group 1 winner Pride Of Dubai and an O’Reilly mare (O’Raghailligh), as a two-year-old.

“She wasn’t ready, and I have no doubt she will be even better next season as a four-year-old,” he said.

“Dubai Empress is still raw and green, and I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t stay once she matures.”

Chevalier had planned to head north with the filly, if she didn’t win today, for a $250,000 Magic Millions Maiden (1400m) at the Gold Coast on January 6.

“That’s gone now, and whilst there are other races in Queensland, my immediate thinking is to give her one more run locally and turn her out.

“This is her first racing preparation, and in hindsight it would be asking a lot to expect her to travel north in this hot weather and perform.”

. Schiller’s victory on Chevalier’s filly along with first race winner Star Diesel ($4.40) took him to 10 Hawkesbury wins for the season, four ahead of last season’s Sydney apprentice champion Zac Lloyd, who also rode a double, scoring on favorites Concello ($3.10) and Roma Avenue ($1.90).

Chris Waller’s win with Concello in the JSJ Roofing Maiden Plate (1600m) was his ninth Hawkesbury winner this season, five more than Kim Waugh and Peter and Paul Snowden, who won the closer with Sir Artie ($8.50).


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