Melbourne Cup heroine Empire Rose dies at Whakanui Stud

Yesterday Taimana carried the Bodle colours of yellow, black band and red striped sleeves to victory at Flemington for the first time since Empire Rose won the 1988 Melbourne Cup.

Today Tim and Karen Bodle farewelled the mare who made those colours famous in the first place. As massive as her name implied, Empire Rose (Sir Tristram-Summer Fleur) was the undoubted star of the 1988 Melbourne Cup Carnival. She defeated weight-for-age stars Vo Rogue and Sky Chase in the MacKinnon Stakes on Derby Day and came out three days later to hold off a determined Natski, becoming the first mare to win the Cup since Light Fingers in 1965. The finish was memorable for the sight of Natski getting past Empire Rose's rear end without managing to get past the front of her - such was the size of the giant mare.

In all, Empire Rose won nine races and close to $A2 million from 48 starts over five seasons, adding a New Zealand Cup G2 and Trentham Stakes G3 to her Australian victories. Her eight placings included a second in Kensei's 1987 Melbourne Cup and a third to Almaarad and Stylish Century in the 1989 W.S. Cox Plate. She was also part of the memorable 1986 New Zealand Oaks finish when three daughters of Sir Tristram (Royal Heights, Empire Rose and Eau D'Etoile) made the trifecta.

Empire Rose's stud career was unfortunate, marred by the difficult delivery in 1993 of a very big, dead colt. Internal injuries suffered then affected her subsequent breeding life and she produced only four live foals:
1991 f. Rosie's Star (Star Way)- retained by Whakanui Stud and currently at stud in Australia
1995 f. Ripplin' Rosie (Star Way)- part-owned by Graeme Rogerson's partner Debbie Price and breeding in Australia
1997 g. by Rhythm - retained by the Bodles, he's 17.1 hands high and had his first trial this week from the Sheila Laxon stable
1998 g. Empire Strike (Pentire) - in the Bart Cummings stable

Empire Rose had had laminitis for some time and recently developed a heart problem. When X-rays showed that her feet had deteriorated further the decision was made to euthanase the 19-year-old mare.

Tim Bodle said today "It was a very hard decision to put her down. She has been with us for nearly 20 years and she was such an individual, who always enjoyed human company yet was aloof in the way that champions often are." Apart from Rosie's Star, the Bodles are also breeding from Rose Delight, a half-sister by Nassipour to Empire Rose. Her Tale of The Cat colt was sold at the 2002 New Zealand Premier Sale for $170,000 to Ray Lawson of Victoria.

Race record information courtesy of Arion Pedigrees.

- Susan Archer


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