George a female winter star

Rob Courtney

Eyrewell Forest (Nth Canterbury) trainer Trevor Grant knows what its like to be associated with a good horse. Back in the 90’s the pocket sized Adio Routine (Equitable ll – Oma Routine) successfully raced amongst the open class pacers on her way to winning 15 races and earning $250k.

That career included a couple of Interdom heats at Auckland and the best mares race at Addington and arguably could have been considered the top pacing mare in the country at that time.

It could be a bit of stretch at this time to suggest that Grant’s latest ‘star’ George Eliot (4m Royal Aspirations – Starwood In Aspen) is in that same class but maybe ‘George’ hasn’t read the script yet.

George Eliot, Robbie Close and Trevor, Addington, 14 June 2024
Photo (c) Race Images CHC

After winning just once in her first 32 starts, with many of her runs characterised by running on late for multiple 4th & 5ths, the bonny wee mare has put together four wins in her last seven starts. Each run typifying her ‘never say die’ attitude as she has met the rises in class with aplomb.

So where does that name come from

Grant, an ex-pupil of St Bedes in Christchurch, remembers studying the work of the Victorian writer at school, who, while obviously a woman, gave herself a male name to draw attention to herself and her work.

Her dam Starwood In Aspen (by In The Pocket) had a go at both gaits in her racing career when also owned & trained by Grant, registering 6 wins in 127 starts, racing from 2yo to 9yo.

That toughness (& soundness), she has passed on to her progeny.

Older breeders would point to the doses of maternal sires Light Brigade & U Scott being found further back in the pedigree.

Young Stranger (by Brylin Boyz) won 9 races in 128 starts

Rachmaninov (by Diedre Don) has won the 7x in a mammoth 238 starts to date. 2 others, both by Extreme Three, were good enough to qualify but unable to get into the winners circle.

George Eliot was her 5th and last foal.

“The mare was getting on in years and we found it difficult to keep condition on her”, Grant lamented.

He has had an association with this family for over 30 years.

Starwood In Aspen was from the Bo Scot Blue Chip mare Bo Rose

(1 win) and her 3 foals all won races. The Rusty Pelican (by Equitable ll – sire of Adio Routine) won 3 and Minstrel Of The Dawn (by Falcon Seelster) was a handy mare winning twice.

Unfortunately the latter didn’t have a lot of luck at stud, leaving three live foals for one minor winner..

“When Adio Routine retired, I spent the money going to the expensive commercial sires like Cullen & Soky’s Atom but it didn’t work out in the end” Grant explained.

While her own breeding career never reached any great heights, Adio Routine did leave race winner Trinity College (by Sir Vancealot) who in turn left Miss Lisa (4 wins & by McArdle). Her first 3 foals have all been winners including the very handy Franco Marek (7 wins + $92k)

***At the height of her career, Adio Routine’s regular driver was one Colin DeFilippi and over the years, he and Grant have become good buddies. The irony there was that they both were amateur boxes in their younger day and did in fact meet in the ring in a boxing contest.

DeFilippi’s version said he won on a points decision!

Grant is just working the 2 horses (George Eliot & Rachmaninov) although the latter is on the easy list currently after sustaining a minor injury. He does think ‘George’ is quite a bit better than her stablemate and is only just coming to terms with the racing game.

“Because of where I am, its difficult to work with other horses and she is just learning about racing in fields on race day. I don’t know how far she will go but she would make a lovely broodmare in time.

We got an offer out of the blue recently and although we don’t really want to sell, it definitely got us pondering”, he shared.