Gate Issue Apparently Ends Aqua d'Amore's Career

The racing career of high quality Danehill distaffer Aqua d’Amore appears to be over.

Australian racing officials maintained a ban on her after she failed a barrier examination on April 20.

Susan Magnier and her Coolmore Syndicate subsequently decided to send the winner of AUS$1.9 million to stud.

Her crew failed in a plea to the Hong Kong Jockey Club to overturn the Racing NSW ban after she failed the Randwick test.

Aqua D'Amore had been booked to leave for Hong Kong on April 23 to run in the Hong Kong Champions Mile (HK-I) at Sha Tin on April 29.

A stud career beckons but her trainer, Gai Waterhouse, is lobbying the owners for another race or two in Brisbane in May, subject to an official clearance.

Aqua d’Amore had been banned from racing on April 9 when she forced the Doncaster Handicap (Aus-I) start to be delayed for five minutes by sitting down in the starting gates.

The 5-year-old had done the same thing before, most notably in the Australian Cup (Aus-I) March 10 at her previous start. She finished fourth in both races.

Australian racing officials said the mare’s entry would be refused until she passed two barrier trials.

Waterhouse made an impassioned but unsuccessful plea to gain a reprieve to run in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Aus-I).

To precipitate a clearance for the Hong Kong race, the NSW Racing stewards changed the ruling to two jump-outs and a barrier trial.

Aqua D'Amore passed the first two tests on April 13 and 17 without incident, but on April 20, she was back to her old habits and sat down in the gates.

Chief steward Ray Murrihy said he had no alternative but to maintain the ban.

Michael Kirwan, manager of Coolmore Stud Australia and representing the Coolmore Syndicate, said it was a most disappointing result. He felt the mare had been put under "undue pressure."

“I don't think it’s fair that she had to trial three times in a week, particularly as she's never been a danger to other horses or jockeys,” Kirwan said.

The HKJC was keen for Aqua d’Amore to run in the Champions' Mile, the third leg of the Asian Mile series.

However, it was not prepared to overturn a ban imposed by Australian stewards.

“This mare has had an illustrious career, there is no better performed [older] mare in the country,” Waterhouse said after the Hong Kong trip was canceled.

Aqua d’Amore’s best of four graded victories came in the Futurity Stakes (Aus-I) at a mile on March 3. The Futurity was the first leg of the Asian Mile series.

She is one of 80 group I winners by her seven-times champion Australian sire.

Last spring the daughter of U.S. mare Romantic River (by Irish River) finished second behind Tawqeet in the Caulfield Cup (Aus-I).

A week later she was a close and courageous fourth to Phoenix Ruler in the W.S. Cox Plate (Aus-I).

Aqua d’Amore has raced 34 times for nine wins and another 11 placings.

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