Quirkily named racehorse Elephant (Shocking [AUS]-Ticklish) is developing a bit of a cult following.
It could be down to being named after a pachyderm or his ability on the racetrack with his record of six wins from seven starts, but whatever it is his breeder and part-owner Andrew Fowler is extremely proud of him.
“It’s just the craziest thing, I can’t believe it,” he said. “Everyone seems to love him and be following him.
“He’s becoming a bit of a cult figure I have had people contacting me from Australia and all over the country wanting to know everything about him and his crazy name.”
Before venturing across the Tasman, Elephant had won four races on the trot in New Zealand and won his Australian debut at Caulfield.
His latest win came in the Gr.3 Sandown Stakes (1500m) and followed on from a very narrow defeat in the Gr.2 Feehan Stakes (1600m) at his second start in Victoria.
“It’s just so exciting and good for David and Emma-Lee, it’s a big gamble and a big sacrifice for them and it’s paying off and we are having a lot of fun,” Fowler said, acknowledging the fact that trainer and fellow part-owner David Browne doesn’t yet have a an MIQ slot to return home to New Zealand.
“We are lucky we got a good horse. You stay in the game because you love it and you win little bits of money here and there, then one like this turns up and it is really exciting.
“Racing is a great leveller, you celebrate every milestone, everyone involved realises what it takes to get a good horse. It’s a great sport with great people but a lot of hard work.”
Fowler bred Elephant from his good race mare Ticklish (Maroof [USA]-French Kiss), a winner of nine races, two at Listed level. She was Group One placed in the Lightning Handicap as well as placed in the Gr.2 Sapphire Stakes and four other Listed events.
From her six named foals Ticklish left three other winners before Elephant, Hot In Pink (Lonhro [AUS]), The Ice Knight (Iffraaj [GbB]) and the classy Iffraaj filly Melt.
Melt won five races including the Gr.3 Eclipse Stakes, Gr.3 Whangarei RC Northland Breeders’ Stakes and the Listed Counties Challenge Stakes which she won on debut at two. She also finished second in the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes and the Gr.2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas.
Fowler raced Melt but has since sold her to Cambridge Stud where he believes she will get the best opportunity as a broodmare.
“I am not one to spend big money on service fees,” he explained. “I figured if she was going to get an opportunity as a broodmare she should go to a big operation who could afford to send her to the best stallions. I believe she has been served by Savabeel.
“Ticklish has been an incredible horse for us, she never quits, she ran 54.2 over 1000m, that’s an incredible time. I raced her with my good friends Chris Cochrane and Peter Fennessy, and they eventually gave her to me. How incredible she has been to leave Melt and now Elephant.
“Elephant is the same. He doesn’t quit, he is just Ticklish with a bit more wind that’s why I went to Shocking, he is big on stamina,” Fowler said of the former Melbourne Cup winner who stands at Rich Hill Stud.
“The funny thing with Ticklish is, if she hasn’t got something going on, she’s not happy,” said Fowler.
“I know she is 21 but she’s well and being in foal suits her, we struggled with her feet at one stage, but we are on top of that, and she’s great. She had trouble foaling when giving birth to Elephant but fortunately she was at Haunui Farm at the time and Mark (Chitty) is an amazing Vet and did a great job saving her.”
"She has since had a colt by Iffraaj who has just turned two.
“This year I’m only breeding from her and Hot In Pink’s Shocking daughter Hippopotamus, she is better off as a broodmare and she is going to Super Seth.”
Hot In Pink is also the dam of Rhinoceros (Vadamos), also a winner in Victoria this spring for Fowler and the Browne team, and when questioned on which of the next “big five game animals” he would use Fowler was a bit coy with his answer.
“I really must get out of that phase soon, funnily enough it works with Elephant because that’s how he acts turning his lips up like a trunk. As a young horse at home he developed in an odd way and was slow maturing,” he recalled.
“That’s why it’s one step at a time in Melbourne at the moment. He will head to the Toorak Handicap if he doesn’t get too much weight, and then it is step by step from there. I don’t want to get to caught up in all the hype and start missing out on things as there is the autumn as well for the big spoils.”
Elephant descends from a family developed by the Lowry’s at Okawa Stud and the various descendants have consistently produced numerous stakes winners over the years.
Ticklish was bred by Lord Tavistock and is out of the Paris House (GB) mare French Kiss, who raced once. She in turn is out of Real Charmer, an unraced sister to the Gr.1 Derby winner and successful stallion Omnicorp (Grosvenor-Bourbon Lassie) and a half-sister to the Group Two winner Pharostan, also a successful sire, and Bourbon Boy a stakes winner of 9 races.
Another half-sister Crimson won the Gr.2 Championship Stakes and the Gr.3 Waikato Guineas and has produced the stakes winners Abidewithme (9 wins), Stockman (6 wins) and Miss Scarlatti and she is also the grandam of the multiple stakes winner Destiny’s Kiss.
Meanwhile, Fowler can start brainstorming names for the newest member of the family with news that Ticklish has foaled down a Vadamos colt this week at Wentwood Grange, he will have big footsteps to follow in. -Michelle Saba, NZTBA