The term “Queen” is often used to describe a talented filly, but to those overseeing the career of Forever In Dreams there’s no doubt in their minds she deserves that particular crown.
Amidst plenty of emotion from those who had expertly guided her career, the Phoenix Ladies owned grey boarded a lorry heading for England and left the famous yard for the last time this week. She has been retired to take up duties as a broodmare and a date with Kingman is on the horizon.
“The Phoenix Ladies team will have plenty of sleepless nights thinking about how good that foal could be,” jokes legendary breeder Con Marnane, who has been with the daughter of Dream Ahead from the very beginning. Bred by him, Marnane has been an invaluable advisor to Phoenix Ladies and has witnessed first hand how trainer Aidan Fogarty has guided the filly’s career at his Bansha Stables.
“I want to thank Phoenix Ladies for giving us the opportunity to work with them in the purchase and training of Forever In Dreams.” Marnane continues. “It was a very shrewd move from them to buy her at the Goffs London Sale.”
That it was. Just days after the all-female ownership group acquired the then three-year-old she repaid their faith, chasing home the Phoenix Thoroughbreds owned Advertise to finish second in the Group One Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. A day Marnane says “he’ll never forget.” It’s a day too that lives long in the memory of her trainer Aidan Fogarty, a man who was enjoying his first taste of Royal Ascot.
“It was my first time there as a trainer, in fact, my first time there at all!” Explains Fogarty. “It’s definitely the highlight of my career so far.”
Marnane is quick to point out the part played by the trainer in the success of his Bansha operation, marking him out for special thanks for his handling of Forever In Dreams. “He rode her 99% of the time and did so much work with her,” he explains about the role played by Fogarty.
In retrospect, it’s quite remarkable to think that this talented galloper was produced out of a yard of just seven or eight horses. A fact that hasn’t escaped the notice of Fogarty.
“She was my first runner in England when she won the Cecil Frail at Haydock, my first Royal Ascot runner and later my first runner in France,” he said “She certainly took us around alright and it was a joy to have her. It’s tough to find them as good as she was.”
Forever In Dreams’ career can be defined not just by her results but also her attitude to racing. Marnane describes her as having “the heart of a lion” while her trainer opts for the phrase “as tough as nails.” It doesn’t take much to see their point. In 2019 her season kicked off in May where she ran in a listed race in Ireland before winning the Cecil Frail Stakes at Haydock. In June she produced that career-best to be second in the Commonwealth Cup and ended her campaign in October with a Group One placed effort this time in the Champions Sprint back at Ascot. All that, having also taken in the Haydock’s Sprint Cup and the Prix de la Foret at ParisLongchamp along the way.
“She’d been on the go since January without a break” recalled Marnane of her 2019 season. “She was very consistent, very sound and you could never get to the end of her. That was one of the reasons why she was so good to have around.”
Even this past season where perhaps some of her old precocious talents had wained slightly she still produced a quartet of black-type placed efforts in a seven-race campaign.
“She’d run through a wall for you to be honest.” said Fogarty “She never knew when she was beaten. If she breeds on some of her toughness, I think she’ll be a very very good broodmare.”
Only time will tell if the next stage of her career can be as fruitful as the first part. That said, her owners have given her every chance to get off to a good start by selecting a leading stallion for her first cover. For them, the filly was much more than just a racehorse. There is great affection among the members of the all-female group for this elegant grey, not only for her exploits on the track but her antics in the in-between assignments.
“I must thank Phoenix Ladies principle Pamela Cordina for taking such an interest in the filly,” Says Marnane. “She really enjoys every aspect of owning her and loved to receive video updates. She genuinely takes an interest in the filly; it was never just about the results something which is sometimes lost among owners.”
Also wishing to express his gratitude to ‘PLS’ Fogarty added.
“It was brilliant for them to leave her with us, such a small yard and lot thanks go to them too. They could have easily taken her to a bigger yard, but they were very good to us and it was brilliant to have her around.”
So while the members of Phoenix Ladies can excitedly turn the page onto the next chapter of the Forever In Dreams story her departure from Bansha provides a bittersweet ending to their direct narrative in the tale. Everyone involved in the development of the tough, talented and often playfully boisterous filly can take a tremendous amount of pride in her past and indeed future. For Marnane it’s been a journey four years in the making.
“She meant the world to us,” he concluded with emotional in his voice. “She was bred at home and we brought her the whole way. For a small stable like Aidan’s, it was a considerable achievement to have such a good horse.
“When you breed them, bring them along and have them for three or four years, it’s very hard to say goodbye.”