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Not many horses win the same race four times; fewer still are bestowed the honour of having the event eventually named after them. Western Australian warrior Idyllic Prince, however, is one such galloper.
Jim Taylor knows a quality sprinter when he sees one. Barakey, Magnifisio and of course, Hay List, are among the Group One-winning speed machines the Bullsbrook-based trainer has thrown a saddle over. But where does Idyllic Prince – four-time winner of the race once known as the Goodwood Sprint and which now bears his name – fit into the sprinting spectrum?
“For courage, he’s probably the best of them,” Taylor told the Report.
“We would’ve gone over east with him if he had better feet. We were able to keep him relatively sound because our place at Bullsbrook is nice soft sand, like working on the beach.”
For courage, he’s probably the best of them.
Plagued by canker, an infection that invades the surface tissue of the hoof, in his back feet, the Taylor family’s most treasured horse was at times a day-to-day proposition.
“He was a bit proppy going out every day but as soon as he got on a racetrack, he seemed to wake up and forget about it,” Taylor said.
In fact, if Taylor looks out the window of his Bullsbrook property, he’ll still see the now 20-year-old ‘Prince’, as he’s affectionately known, showing the odd sign of discomfort.
“He’s still on the farm, he stays out with the babies. You can see he’s still quite tender in his back feet but he’s just a beautiful, beautiful horse, the best horse that Mum and Dad had bred and raced.”
Taylor’s is a true racing family, with its origins in both pacers and thoroughbreds. His late father Mick was a legendary horseman and breaker. Mother Lois one of the first Western Australian women to be officially licenced as a trainer, and was the name alongside Taylor’s own in the racebook when he rode his first winner, Fort Apache, when apprenticed to his mother aged just 14.
“They licensed three females in Western Australia 1977, and Mum was one of them. Dad was a trotting driver, but they started having more involvement in the gallops when mum took out her licence,” remembers Taylor.
Feature races flowed in the decades that followed, including the 1984 Perth Cup with Moss Kingdom for the mother-son trainer-jockey combination.
Dad after winning the 1984 Perth Cup on Moss Kingdom. Look at that crowd! pic.twitter.com/S7Mi9TbL6I
— Brittany Taylor (@BrittTaylor12) December 29, 2020
The birth of Jim’s daughter Brittany – now a racing presenter and ownership advocate – also added to the family’s inextricable connection with racing.
“The day my daughter was born I won the Ascot Gold Cup on a horse called Flying Grau, mum trained it and I rode it. Brittany was born at around 11am and at about three o’clock in the afternoon we won the Cup.
“It was quite coincidental, because Channel 10 came in and did a story on Brittany being born and us winning the Ascot Gold Cup, now Brittany works for Channel 10 at the Melbourne Cup carnival, it’s a bit of an ironic outcome.”
But of all the winners, Idyllic Prince is the most cherished. By Scenic, Idyllic Prince was the first foal of Uma Princess, who had shown enough on the track for Taylor to be encouraged to pursue breeding options.
“She was a pretty good filly but injured herself early, she got beaten a head in a Group 2 Champion Fillies, and so we were pretty keen to get a foal out of her.
“I approached Scenic Lodge (Durham at the time) which stood Scenic, and asked if they wanted to do a deal and have the mare for the first foal.”
Owned entirely by the Taylor clan – 50 per cent by Lois and Mick, 50 per cent by Taylor’s wife Tina – Idyllic Prince’s potential was evident from the beginning.
“When he was born he was the strongest foal you’ve ever seen for a first foal. I’ve been lucky to have had a few good horses over the years, Hay List, Barakey, these ones they just show you that ability from the start.”
Denied a debut victory by shin soreness, Idyllic Prince showed that ability at his second start, ripping home from the tail of the field to break his maiden over 1200m for Jason Brown, who would form a great association with the horse and steer the gelding to three of his four Goodwood Sprint wins.
Winning six of his first 12 starts, Idyllic Prince’s first stakes win came in the G3 Asian Beau of 2006, again charging home from the tail to win at double-figure odds.
Now of course known as the Idyllic Prince, the weight-for-age Goodwood Sprint was the brainchild of Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter.
“Greg put it on for horses who were getting ready for the Melbourne carnival, but needed a lead-in run at weight-for-age where they wouldn’t have to carry the grandstand,” Taylor said.
Idyllic Prince won the Goodwood first-up in 2008, defeating Western Australian Derby winner Guyno by a length.
Comfortable victories followed in 2009 and 2010, before the sprinter achieved his famous four-timer in what would be his last race in 2011, so joining illustrious company the like of Lord (Memsie Stakes), Zipping (Sandown Classic), Winx (Cox Plate, George Ryder, Chipping Norton), Tie The Knot (Chipping Norton) and of course Royal Snack (Moe Cup!) as four-time-consecutive feature winners.
“We wanted to go out with a bang, we thought he’d run well and he sure did us proud. The horse he beat Playing God was a very good horse and now a top stallion, so to beat him was a great result,” Taylor said.
Despite having a mortgage on the Goodwood, Taylor ranks Idyllic Prince’s G1 Winterbottom Stakes second as a career peak. But it was also a case of what might have been, with Taylor’s other runner Black In Time unwittingly foiling his stablemate by towing the eventual winner into the race.
“She was a world-class sprinter, Ortensia, and she just grabbed him in the final few strides, she followed my other horse everywhere in the run and got the most beautiful cart-up behind… If our other horse doesn’t lead Ortensia into the race like it did, he would’ve won a Group 1.”
Retired with 15 wins (nine of them at stakes level) and 14 placings to his name from just 45 career starts, as well as over one million dollars in prizemoney, ‘Prince’ remains a firm favourite of Lois.
“Mum is rising 88 and she still helps out around the stables. To have ‘Prince’ around the property alive and healthy means a lot to her, he was Mum and Dad’s favourite horse.”
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