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Marquesa Naranja, the new 500 Club filly!

The overwhelming opinion is, she’s gorgeous. Whatever she does on a racetrack (and it will 2014 before we see the best of her), MARQUESA NARANJA wowed her audience at the naming ceremony at David O’Meara’s Helmsley Stables on Sunday, 19th May.

We had received plenty of response to our invitation to join us there but even so, we headed over ourselves hoping as many as possible would turn up….not least because we had ordered refreshments based on at least 80 members arriving! It was around 10-15am when we ourselves got there and there had been some drama and that meant everyone on site was attending to the horse and jockey that had gone through a rail on the gallops. Quite right, too.

Paul and I set about putting up Car Park signs because it’s not the easiest place to spot as you wing up the narrow lane and Sat Nav tells you that you have arrived one entrance early.

Job done by 10-30am, we then waited just seconds before the first of the visitors arrived. Come 10-45am and the convoy was coming slowly up the lane and I was reminded of that scene from the movie Field Of Dreams, when the baseball field had been completed and the cars were backed up for miles awaiting a look at it. Probably a slight exaggeration as we had about 30 cars turn up but, you get the scene.

The most important person arrived just before the majority of 500 Club and Site members….Rachel, our refreshments lady! The best mobile coffee shop (Smart car in the background), on the planet. It didn’t take long for the members to latch on to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and that there was also muffins and pastries to be washed down! We do know of someone that hammered the hot chocolate but Emma will remain nameless.

We had envisaged a nippy morning but it was soon evident the big coats were not going to be needed and that, plus the Guinness cap, were binned in favour of the lighter jacket, as the sun came blazing through.

Because of the incident that had happened earlier it put things back around 45 minutes but that gave all the members that had attended more of a chance to have a good look around the yard, to see how fantastic a set up they have there. It also gave us a chance to have a good chat to everyone, which probably would not have been possible had things gone to plan.

The vet having done a sterling job on putting the injured horse back together, Guy, David’s assistant, raced over to the stables at the back of the yard as the members gathered around for the important bit….the naming ceremony.

We had press-ganged young Emma Mitchell to do the “revealing of the name” and the nerves she had climbing onto the podium quickly disappeared once she was facing her audience (and with me on one side and Paul on the other), she produced her best smile as Guy came around the corner with the then unnamed filly, who had been made gorgeous by someone very talented in the plaiting department! Her mane looked superb and she was positively gleaming in the sunshine, as she was led into the middle of the circling area in front of the stables.

Emma performed her job every bit as good as one of those stars at the Oscars and without semblance of a fumble she opened the envelope to reveal the card containing her name.

MARQUESA NARANJA was declared, suggested by 500 Club member Andy Hoyle and selected by the majority of members from the list provided. She certainly wears it well and it suits her down to the ground. Once the card had been pulled and the name announced, members were then offered an opportunity to have their picture taken with her and she was an absolute star. She never turned a hair as everyone walked over to pat her and stroke her muzzle, which is sometimes an issue with young horses as they can get skittish.

Make no mistake, she is a lovely looking filly who will hopefully develop over the next few months to give us a couple of good days out, before being put away for her three year old career, which is when we expect to see the best of her.

A look at the form of the juveniles sired by Duke Of Marmalade indicates they will get better as they get older but whatever happens the excitement she has created and the special day she has already provided for our members, means we have got this absolutely right. I had always been of a mind that getting involved in juveniles might be a risky proposition because so much can go wrong before something goes right. The 19th of May has proven that thinking to be all wrong as plenty of members got involved in thinking up names etc and that is certainly all part of the game.

We now look forward to her racecourse debut and seeing as many of our members on course as possible.

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