Postman Paul Fetton is hoping Saturday will prove a red-letter day for him and the other shareholders in CABARET QUEEN when the mare bids to win one of Jumps racing’s historic prizes, the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.
For 33 years Fetton, has been delivering the mail to the residents of Ferrybank, a suburb of Waterford City in Ireland where he also lives, in his job with An Post, the country’s postal service.
He has had small interests in Flat horses in the past, but a five per cent stake in Cabaret Queen, secured through a season-long lease agreement with Syndicates Racing, has brought success he could scarcely have dreamed of.
After just two starts for her new connections, the mare, who was bought by Jack Cantillon for £13,000 in May and put in training with Willie Mullins, has won more than €66,000.
And after a 13-length win in the Ladbrokes Munster National, she heads to Newbury as a strong fancy for the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup), which is the feature race of the two-day Ladbrokes Winter Carnival on Friday and Saturday.
Fetton, 52, who is one of 69 people to have a share in the mare, said: “I shouldn’t be involved with Cabaret Queen at all because I’m not a Jumps fan.
“But I got to know Jack through an interest I had in a filly with Joseph O’Brien, and when he bought Cabaret Queen for £13,000, I thought it might be wise to get involved.
“There was no way I was expecting things to take off like they have. But when Willie put her in a €40,000 race at Listowel first time out, we figured she might have shown him something. She ran a hugely promising race to finish second but even then, we couldn’t have foreseen what she went on to do in the Munster National.
“Our involvement with her is from May until the end of Galway next year. We would have been paying training fees from January 1. Now we have a free mare and we will have a few quid back at the end of the lease as well. It’s far more than any of us could have hoped for.”
Most of those involved in Cabaret Queen, who was previously trained in the UK by Dan Skelton, are first-time owners who each have stakes of between one and ten per cent. Among them are a poet and a professional golfer, and a large number of them will be descending on Newbury.
Fetton added: “I wouldn’t be expecting her to win, I am more of a fatalist! But I wasn’t expecting her to win at Limerick.
“She was hugely impressive that day. She jumped them into the ground, but she is running off a much higher handicap mark in the Ladbrokes Trophy.
“Cabaret Queen is the best horse I’ve had by a country mile. Any syndicate I’ve been involved in before, I have never got a return.
“I’ve been on stable visits to Joseph O’Brien’s yard, and we are going to Willie Mullins’s stable in three weeks’ time, and these are people I could never have hoped to have met in the normal course of events. It’s fantastic for a humble postman.”
MEANWHILE, Mullins, Ireland’s champion trainer, says he hopes there could be more to come from Cabaret Queen at Newbury on Saturday when she will bid to secure a second Ladbrokes Trophy victory in three years for the stable.
He said: “When fillies start to improve, they usually keep improving. Cabaret Queen got a huge penalty for winning the Munster National, but she is still in with a light enough weight at Newbury. She gallops, jumps and stays, so we are going there with a good bit of hope.”
Mullins, who confirmed stable jockey Paul Townend was likely to ride Cabaret Queen, admitted he was taken aback by the manner of her win at Limerick.
“It totally surprised me,” he said. “I only picked up the race with a mile to run and I could see something going effortlessly in front, not realising it was our own filly.”
Cabaret Queen is one of two Mullins runners likely to take their chance in the Newbury race, the other being the enigmatic YORKHILL, a one-time Cheltenham Festival winner.
ELEGANT ESCAPE, last year’s runner-up, remains at the top of the weights on 11st 12lb and is one of four that could represent two-time winner Colin Tizzard, alongside ROBINSFIRTH, MISTER MALARKY and WEST APPROACH. Nicky Henderson also has a four-strong contingent in BEWARE THE BEAR, BRAVE EAGLE, ON THE BLIND SIDE and the likely favourite, OK CORRAL.
The J P McManus-owned OK Corral remains the best-backed horse in the race. Nicola McGeady, head of PR for Ladbrokes, said: “With the market leaders standing their ground, the Ladbrokes Trophy remains ultra-competitive. OK Corral is expected to be the worst result on the day for us, along with On The Blind Side, who has been backed into 10/1 from 20/1.”
LADBROKES’ BETTING (at 12 midday Thursday): 6/1 Ok Corral, 15/2 Cabaret Queen, 9/1 Mister Malarky, 11/1 On The Blind Side, 11/1 De Rasher Counter, 12/1 Elegant Escape, 12/1 West Approach, 14/1 Borice, 14/1 Two Taffs, 14/1 Dingo Dollar, 18/1 Yala Enki, 22/1 The Conditional, 22/1 Robinsfirth, 28/1 Yorkhill, 28/1 Joe Farrell, 33/1 Beware The Bear, 33/1 Commodore, 40/1 Regal Encore, 40/1 Bar.