Racing: Fairytale day dawns for Majestic Desert

Today is the day that a fairytale just might come true. Majestic Desert, the Cinder-ella filly, is off to the ball at Newmarket. This afternoon the girl from below stairs takes on 16 rivals in the 191st 1,000 Guineas, and despite her extraordinarily humble origins, she can prove herself a true princess.

There are no ugly sisters in this romance, and the tryst with the handsome prince must wait for next year. Buttons is probably Majestic Desert's trainer, Mick Channon, who works alongside her daily. And the Fairy Godmother? Step forward Gill Richardson, who bred the filly and must have waved a magic wand at her birth to bestow the gifts our heroine owns as an athlete.

So settle down and listen to the story. It starts four years ago when Richardson, a feisty Yorkshire lass who buys and sells horses for a living, was given instructions by a client to buy some potential broodmares, the cheaper the better. With her good friend Channon's help, she acquired the 11-year-old Calcutta Queen, a moderate race mare on a downward spiral, for £500.

"I paid the money out of the petty-cash tin," she said, "and then the poor chap who I'd bought her for had a stroke, and didn't want her any more."

Stuck with Calcutta Queen, who was perfectly healthy, had a decent sire, Night Shift, and some respectable distant relations on her mother's side (her great-grand-dam Photo Flash was second in her Guineas 36 years ago), Richardson decided to send her to Fraam, a cheap stallion in whom she had an interest. Fraam, a strapping grandson of the legendary sire Nureyev, was no more than a high-class handicapper and, at the start of his career, commanded a fee of just £1,250. Even a mare as lowly as Calcutta Queen was a welcome boost to his harem.

But stardust fell on her daughter and the good fairies plotted her a benign course through her early years. In order to recoup her unwanted, albeit modest, outlay, Richardson decided to sell Majestic Desert as a yearling, as a good commercial operator should. But when it came to the crunch she decided that the bids at auction in Ireland were too low, and retained her property for €15,000 (£10,000).

Majestic Desert went into training with Channon and then, enter a man who could by no means be described as Baron Hardup. Jaber Abdullah, a wealthy businessman who is an associate of Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum, spotted the bonny bay youngster and made Richardson the proverbial offer.

"He fell in love with her," Richardson said, "but I wasn't sure about selling, because of what might be said if she turned out to be no good, with me breeding her and everything. But I put the facts on the table, and he took her."

Whatever Abdullah paid, it was a bargain. Majestic Desert won first time out, came in third to the flying Attraction over an inadequate five furlongs in the Queen Mary Stakes, won a valuable contest at the Curragh and failed by inches to beat another of today's rivals, Carry On Katie, in the Cheveley Park Stakes.

But there is sadness to record. Abdullah added Calcutta Queen to his broodmare band, only to lose her, and her unborn Fraam foal, when she died after an attack of colic last year. However, he now also owns the mare's other daughter, a Josr Algharoud two-year-old named Gold Majesty.

It would be just if Majestic Desert should score today; two years ago, her owner's brilliant Queen's Logic, also trained by Channon, missed the 1,000 Guineas after going lame the day before the race.

She faces a tough task, but has much going for her: she has proved she has trained on with her no-fuss success at Newbury last month; she is race-fit; she is a battler; and she has gears. Red Bloom, representing last year's winning connections, is the obvious threat, with Hathrah and Sundrop next best and Incheni the pick of the rank outsiders.

Win or lose today, a filly like Majestic Desert is what keeps the racing industry, one built on dreams, going. "A story like hers gives everyone hope," said Richardson. At around 2.45pm, we will know if there is to be a happy ending.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US