It’s easy to love a horse with heart

Two-year-old filly Lady Cop unbeaten in three starts


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A horse with heart is easy to fall in love with.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/09/2022 (276 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A horse with heart is easy to fall in love with.

Just ask sisters Charlotte and Olive Johnston, who groom Lady Cop for trainer Mike Nault. Their pride and joy won the 59th running of the $40,000 Osiris Stakes last Monday for owners A2 Thoroughbreds and True North Thoroughbreds.

“She’s amazing,” said Charlotte. “She’s just the best.”

George Williams / Winnipeg Free Press

Trainer Mike Nault smiles as grooms Charlotte (left) and Olive Johnston smooch Osiris Stakes winner Lady Cop.

“We love her,” said Olive. Both sisters thought she would win before the race.

“You just know,” said Charlotte. “It was the best feeling ever,” said the sisters in unison.

Bred by Dr. Betty Hughes, the big bay Manitoba-bred two-year-old filly by Hughes’ sire Vengeful Wildcat was purchased in last year’s Manitoba CTHS Yearling Sale for $12,000 by Pat Beavis, who is one of the partners in the True North Thoroughbreds. Lady Cop has now won all three of her starts including the $40,000 Debutante Stakes and earned almost $60,000.

That doesn’t surprise Hughes’ husband Frank Johnson, who helps care for the horses on their farm in Lake Francis north of Winnipeg. “She was big and beautiful from the start,” said Johnson. “A nice mover with an extremely good temperament. Her mom (Agolo Bynoe by Successful Appeal) is back in foal to Vengeful Wildcat again.”

Ridden in all three of her starts by hot jockey Renaldo Cumberbatch, Lady Cop was heavily favoured to the Debutante Stakes against females in her start previous to the Osiris Stakes and dug in gamely to win by a neck after looking like she was beaten in mid-stretch. In the Osiris she took on males, including talented Washington-bred favourite Adjournment, and again dueled from the inside before drawing away to win by three lengths.

Smiles were everywhere in the winner’s circle after the Osiris Stakes, but perhaps the biggest and brightest we’ve seen this year belonged to jockey Cumberbatch and trainer Nault.

Cumberbatch won the first three races on Monday’s card and capped off the night with a win in the seventh and final race to give himself four wins on the card. Always underrated, Cumberbatch is winning at a strong a 21 per cent clip and is second behind Jorge Carreno in the jockey standings with a record of 34-29-24 from 161 mounts.

Trainer Nault is also having another strong year, especially when it comes to two-year-olds, and he’s likely not done yet. Nault has two more two-year-olds by Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Oxbow and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Uncle Mo that are expected to make their debut soon.

Nault is winning at a 24 per cent rate with a record of 13-5-8 from 54 starts, which puts him fifth in the trainer standings. He also recently won the $25,000 Elite Mercedes Stakes with older horse Itsthattime for True North Thoroughbreds.

Nault finished in a tie for sixth in the trainer standings last year with 18 wins, and also won numerous stakes including the Graduation Stakes, Osiris, Winnipeg Futurity and Debutante, with two-year-old champions Diamond Digger and Bankin On Betty, for some of the same partners that own Lady Cop.

The partners in True North Thoroughbreds include Phil Allard, Pat Beavis, Grant Sissons and Ray Bouchard, who were also partners on Manitoba’s most famous race horse, millionairess and Canadian champion Escape Clause. Last year, True North campaigned champion Manitoba-bred two-year-old filly Bankin On Betty.

The partners on A2 Thoroughbreds include 31-year-old Nolan Allard, Art Roy and his father Jean-Marc Roy. Allard is a sales manager at Enns Brothers while Art and Jean-Marc own MacMor Industries, an industrial supply company in Winnipeg.

Last year A2 Thoroughbreds campaigned champion two-year-old Diamond Digger under the name The Young And The Rest Of Us Stable. They changed their name to A2 Thoroughbreds this year, bought more horses and a farm on Garven Road, and incorporated their operation.

“There’s 40 acres and 20 riding horses there,” said Allard. “We bought four more babies at the yearling sale, we’ve got a couple of mares that we’re keeping that we’re hoping to breed, and we’re planning to buy a couple more mares in foal this winter. The plan is to get bigger.”

That’s good news for Nault, who has had tremendous success with both ownership groups.

“They’re the best owners in the world,” said Nault. “They let me do my job and take my time. We can discuss things as a group and come to a reasonable conclusion. It’s been great.”

The wagering at the Downs has been through the roof this year, and that’s carried over into the purse structure and the Manitoba-bred breeding bonuses for owners and breeders. The business case for owning and breeding horses has been getting steadily better over the past decade in Manitoba, especially in the last three years.

A2 Thoroughbreds already have a horse with courage and tenacity, which is always something you can build on, and they might just have the perfect name for their farm, too.

Miracle Ranch.


Updated on Saturday, September 3, 2022 9:11 AM CDT: Fixes typo

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