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1972 ch.f. by New South Wales –Olivia (*Abadan II)
Breeder: Godfrey Gird
Owner: Mr & Mrs Lou Burstein
Trainer: Brian Cherry, Hennie Coetzee
Mildenhall was one of the most terrific and prolific sprint fillies of the South African turf and undoubtedly the best filly seen in South Africa for many years. She won over R80,000 making her the all-time female money winner of her time, a title previously held by the great Renounce.
Bred by Godfrey Gird at Maine Chance Farms, Mildenhall was a strong chestnut filly by New South Wales out of Olivia by Abadan II out of Lalajee by Downrush from Lalage. Mildenhall was the seventh foal from her dam and her seventh winner. Olivia did not win, but was the dam of Halesworth (8 races) and Kentford, winner of 10 races including the Clairwood Winter Handicap. Lalajee won 2 races and produced 6 winners although nothing of note, but the third dam Lalage won 14 good races and produced such winners as Comus, Radlington and the famous King’s Lynn. This was a top class winning family, including Bahadur who was from Ondulee a daughter of Lalage.
Foaled on 12 October 1972, Mildenhall was broken in at Maine Chance Farms and did a little early track work there. The groom who rode her said nothing else on the farm could touch her. She was leased to Mr and Mrs Lou Burstein, who the year before had bought her full brother Kentford, at the Yearling Sales.
Trained by Brian Cherry at 2 and 3 and subsequently by Hennie Coetzee, Mildenhall was at her brilliant best over 1200 metres, but proved effective up to 1600m.
Mildenhall debuted in a 1000m Maiden Juvenile Plate at Clairwood on 30 April 1975. Partnered by Muis Roberts, she won by 3 lengths from Berry Picker, with 7 lengths to the 3rd placed horse, Miss Trentham.
Two weeks later, she tried the 1000m trip at Scottsville on 17 May, again in the hands of Michael Roberts, finishing 5th. After a two week gap, she lined up for Greyville’s 1000m Strelitzia Plate on 28 May, this time in the hands of ‘Snowy’ Reid, but finished well down the field in 10th.
Robbie Thompson partnered her in the 1200m Hollis Trial Handicap at Clairwood on 11 June, where she was touched off for second by half a length by the colt, Final Victory, in a field that included subsequent Derby and Holiday Inns winner, Gigantic. Partnered by Bertie Hayden, Mildenhall ran 1 length third to Rebellious in the 1975 Allan Robertson on 28 June and then won the 1200m Diza Handicap at Greyville on 5 July. The pair finished the season with another good second in the Natal Free Handicap over Clairwood’s 1200m on 16 July, closing her account with 7 runs for 2 wins and 3 seconds.
At three, Mildenhall had a busy time winning 8 out of her 14 races. She won her first two races of the season, the first a fillies plate over 1500m under Johnny McCreedy and the second a 1200m ‘C’ division handicap at Clairwood under Bertie Hayden, the latter by 3 ½ lengths.
On 11 October she ran last in the 1600m Natal Guineas against the colts at Greyville, but was back in the winners’ enclosure on 1 November in a 1200m ‘B’ division sprint at Clairwood with Felix Coetzee in the irons.
Taking on the colts again, Mildenhall ran an excellent race in the 1600m Bull Brand International at Scottsville on 22 November, finishing fifth under Fernando Toro and beaten only a length by the winner, Two Cities.
She returned to sprinting to beat older horses in the St. Nicholas Lady’s Bracelet over 1200m at Scottsville on 20 December 1975 and then celebrated New Years Day 1976 with Johnny McCreedy by winning the R5,000 Flamboyant Stakes, an allowance race for fillies over 1600m, by an easy 3 lengths from the four-year-olds Forever Amber and Refreshing.
Mildenhall tried her luck against older horses in the top-division, running second and beaten 5 ½ lengths behind the smart Soda Fountain (giving 2kgs) over 1200m at Scottsville on 13 March. Returning to compete against her own sex, there were only 4 fillies to oppose her and Bertie Hayden in the 1200m Poinsettia Stakes on 27 March, which was run in heavy going at Greyville. Golden Magic was the early leader with Mildenhall and Just Jane in close attendance. After leaving the false rail, Mildenhall moved over to the stands side of the course to win by a comfortable 1 ½ lengths from Just Jane, with Golden Magic another 3 lengths back in third.
Over 1200m against a good field including such colts as Fuzzy Rag, Tudor Blue and Run Free, she came with a devastating run to beat the stakes winning favourite Fuzzy Rag by 2 lengths in the 1 May Rupert Ellis Brown Memorial Plate, with Young Prince 1 ½ lengths away third.
The 19 May Fillies Cup (previously known as the Sarie Marais) was sponsored by the Race Course Development Fund of Natal. This race looked ready-made for Mildenhall and Johnny McCreedy. Barcarolle, a good filly from the Cape, led the field for most of the way and as Barcarolle weakened, Mildenhall pulled to the front to win unextended by more than 2 lengths from Angel Belle and Soho Secret, to clock her tenth win from 19 starts.
The 1976 Rockgrip Natal Guineas, run over 1600m at Greyville on 5 June, was the first of the new season’s semi-classics attracted a field of five colts and one filly, Mildenhall. Initially the race was run at a slow pace, the compact field being led by Tudor Blue about a length clear of Bahadur and The Pact. As they raced through the final bend Tudor Blue slipped his field and began to draw away, but Run Free could be seen improving on the outside all the way up the straight and finally had too many guns for Tudor Blue and won going away by a neck. Lampoon ran on to take third place, two lengths further back. As in the Bull Brand International, Mildenhall ran an excellent race against the colts, finishing sixth, but only 1 ¾ lengths off the winner.
She started at odds-on for the 16 June Natal Fillies Guineas over 1600m, but was unexpectedly beaten by the imported Rose Bay by a head.
Mildenhall transferred to the stable of Hennie Coetzee for the remainder of her career. She opened her 4yo account for her new trainer with a win in a 1200m B Division sprint at Greyville on 2 October 1976. With Felix Coetzee in the saddle, she crossed the line 0.25 lengths ahead of Amazing Grace, with there being a 6 length gap to the third placed Line Kist.
The 1600m Capital City Stakes, run in heavy going at Scottsville over 1600m on 16 October, proved a bit much, with Mildenhall finishing 12 lengths off under Felix Coetzee, but she redeemed herself in a top division handicap in open company on 27 October, deadheating for second with Fuzzy Rag, with the pair finishing only a length behind Abbey Boy.
Next it was off to Johannesburg for the 1600m R30,000 Germiston November Handicap on 20 November, where she finished a narrow 0.75 length second to Lampoon, with Bold Monarch 1.5 lengths third and subsequent Hawaii Stakes winner Col. Pickering 6 lengths back in 4th place.
The Fillies’ Summer Champion Stakes (R7,000) at Turffontein on Boxing Day 1976 looked to be in the nature of a gift for Mildenhall, but unfortunately, shortly after her arrival for this particular mission she was assailed by an attack of biliary and had to scratch. The race was subsequently won by Run For Lily, who ran out a very easy winner.
After the first real rest of her career, Mildenhall returned in brilliant form, winning in open company, giving weight, in the top division over 1200m at Greyville on 19 March. With regular pilot Felix Coetzee, she reeled off a succession of 4 more wins on the trot, including the 26 March Poinsettia Stakes at Greyville (beating Carpathia and Soho Secret) and the Natal Fillies Sprint at Scottsville on 18 May 1977.
She was third in a 1400m handicap against open company on 18 June, before taking on her own sex over a mile in the Garden Province Stakes on 6 July, finishing 3rd behind Run For Lily and Fast Piece, with the first three passing the post within half a length of each other. Mildenhall posted a 2 length victory over Welsh Pageant in the 1400m Tibouchina Stakes at Clairwood on 16 July and rounded off the season in the 1000m Steward’s Cup at Greyville, taking on the boys again and finishing a creditable 4th behind Row To Rio, Fuzzy Rag and Monastery. That left the tally for her 4 year old campaign on 13 starts for 7 wins and 5 places.
Mildenhall had 2 starts as a 5 year old, trying her luck in the 1977 Natal Flying Championship over Clairwood’s 1200m. She was the only female to contest the race and finished just out of the placings in fifth, behind Foreign Prince, Row To Rio, Fuzzy Rag and Monastery.
Again the only member of the fairer sex in the line-up, Mildenhall had her last start in the Frank Lambert Stakes over 1200m at Scottsville, finishing fifth under Felix Coetzee.
Coetzee remembers her as “a brilliant filly over 1200 – 1600m. She had good acceleration and was a real, real star. She was a big strong filly with a lovely hindquarter. As I believe good fillies can be, she was a bit cheeky in the box, but she was the most beautiful ride. She was easy to ride in the mornings and to place in a race. She was a real lady.”
The SA Horseman of June 1977 gave her the following glowing write up: “One could find no better advertisement for the South African breeding industry than Mildenhall. Throughout a most rigorous racing career, this chestnut filly has displayed speed, courage and an iron constitution. There can be few fillies anywhere in the world of whom so much has been asked and who have given so generously.”
Mildenhall retired to Maine Chance Farms, proving every bit as rewarding in the paddock as she had on the track. She produced 14 foals of which 11 were runners and 9 were winners, with her best being the 1985 Sun International winner, The Rutland Arms.