James Fanshawe and Johnny Murtagh hail ‘special’ filly Soviet Song

James Fanshawe and Johnny Murtagh have both handsome paid tribute to multiple Group One-winning filly Soviet Song following her death at the age of 15.
James Fanshawe and Johnny Murtagh hail ‘special’ filly Soviet Song

The mare was put down at the Oak Lodge Stud in Kentucky on Monday but the announcement of the death was delayed until yesterday in order to first inform as many as possible of the 18,000 members of the Elite Racing Club, her owners, of the news.

Trained in Newmarket by Fanshawe, Soviet Song won her first Group One as a two-year-old in the Fillies’ Mile at Ascot in 2002 and went on to record four more victories at the top level in the Falmouth Stakes (twice), the Sussex Stakes and the Matron Stakes.

She was retired at the age of six after winning nine of her 24 starts.

Fanshawe described her as the “best filly” he has trained.

He said: “She was really good because she won a Group race at two and raced on until she was six. She was the best filly I’ve trained.

“She won five Group Ones and as a four-year-old she was the highest-rated filly in the world.

“When she won the Falmouth at the age of five that was special.”

He went on: “The thing about Soviet was she wasn’t just a brilliant filly and mare, she had tremendous character. She had a great personality.

“She had presence, that aura about her. Elite membership increased significantly when she was in training. She played up to that when Elite came round on their visits, she loved all that.”

Murtagh rode Soviet Song to four of her Group One triumphs and will never forget the day she lowered the colours of dual 1000 Guineas heroine Attraction — for a second time — in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown in 2004.

“It’s very sad news. She was a terrific filly — top drawer,” he said.

“The day she won at Leopardstown beating Attraction was one of my favourite memories of her.

“She was trained by a great trainer. James Fanshawe did a wonderful job with her to keep her going for so long at such a high level.

“She was up there with the best I’ve ridden.”

Elite’s racing manager Dan Downie said: “She was special in lots of ways. She was home-bred and our first ever Group One winner and she went on to win five.

“She had been struggling with her feet and it got progressively worse. I was over in Kentucky for the Breeders’ Cup and went to see her.

“We agreed — me and Suzy (Fitzsimons) who runs Oak Lodge Stud where she was — that she couldn’t carry on like that. She was an amazing horse really.”

Soviet Song did not have much luck as a broodmare but her last offspring, a yearling filly by Speightstown, could change that.

“We’ve got one yearling filly by Speightstown who is going to go into training with James Fanshawe,” said Downie.

“That’s her only one now. Fingers crossed she’ll be OK.”

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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