Art Angel delivering for boutique breeder and trainer

Mark Jones with Art Angel after her maiden victory at Bathurst. Photo: Racing Photography.

Tumut based thoroughbred breeder and owner Michael Inglis has enjoyed a good run with his talented mare, Art Angel. 

The five-year-old races with Mudgee trainer Mark Jones, and has won two of her last three starts, including a strong come from behind victory in the 1400m Class One Handicap at Bathurst last week.

In fact, the Artie Schiller mare, which is out of Caprossa, has only had the three starts for Jones, having previously raced 10 times without luck for champion Bathurst conditioner Gayna Williams. 

Interestingly, Art Angel was bred on Inglis’ 100-acre Little River Road property, and the boutique breeder appears to have a nice broodmare on his hands. 

“I bred her mother Caprossa, and I decided that I would keep a couple of fillies and she was the first filly,” Inglis said.

“Her mother was quite a good race horse and won seven races and four in Sydney.”

Caprossa herself is an interesting mare with a more interesting back story. 

Blessed with ability, the Testa Rossa mare, which is out of Cappucine, was trained by Paul Jones and Barbara Joseph, and she can lay claim to being just one of two horses that both Tommy Berry, and his late brother Nathan Berry won on. 

She started favourite in the 2013 Wagga Town Plate before finishing down the track.

A winner from 1000 to 1200 metres, Caprossa ran a good race to finish fourth, beaten just 1.2 lengths by Saturn Rock in the Listed Nudgee Stakes at Doomben in 2015. 

Inglis had her dam Cappucine, and he explained how a service to Testa Rossa came about, which has led him on an enjoyable run of luck with Caprossa and now Art Angel. 

“There is a story to the mare Caprossa,” Inglis said. 

“I bought her dam, who is by Thunder Gulch at a sale in Melbourne, and Col Widdison who runs the horse transport, said his father had a service to Testa Rossa that he could not use because of EI (Equine Influenza).

“He was in Victoria and Testa Rossa was standing in the Hunter Valley, and it was offered to me, so I worked it up on the basis that there would be no live foal guarantee and at the time he had paid $18,000 for the service.”

While the well-named Caprossa went on to race successfully, winning over $215,000 in prizemoney for connections, Inglis is now seeing the fruits of his labour coming through in Caprossa’s progeny. 

Art Angel is the first of her offspring to race, and although she has won twice and appears to be on the up, Inglis believes there may be a better sibling coming though, which is also being trained by Mark Jones. 

“She has a half-sister that we believe has much more ability,” Inglis said. 

“She is unraced and by Star Turn; we called her Life’s A Party and there is another sibling, which is a gelding by Press Statement. 

“We also have a yearling by All Too Hard that is going to the Magic Millions sales in January since he is a colt.”

Inglis, who regards himself as a ‘small commercial breeder’, has enjoyed some luck, and he has subsequently sold horses to all over the world, including Japan, South Africa, and New Zealand. 

The boutique breeder will be hoping to form a strong and lucrative relationship with Jones, and the trainer explained that the former Southern Districts Racing Association representative and Racing NSW Country Deputy Chairman was introduced to him by former Racing NSW Country Central Districts representative Max Walker. 

“Michael is a good friend of Max Walker, who owns the stables I’m in on the racecourse, and Max asked me if I was interested in training the horse, and I said it was up to Gayna, who had previously trained it,” Jones said. 

“If Gayna wanted it back, I said she could have it back, but as it turned out, she didn’t want it, and to cut a long story short, it ended up being a great opportunity for me.”

Jones, who spent a long time training in Dubbo, only moved to Mudgee 18 months ago, and his stable has been plagued by floods and the recent wet weather.

“I was there at Dubbo for 35-odd years, but we got sick of the drought and decided to move to a bit better scenery and my daughter lives here as well,” Jones said. 

“It’s not too bad a place. We’ve had lots of issues with the rain, and the tracks have been flooded three times, the running rail was displaced, and the sand is a mess, but we make do.”

Now set up in Mudgee, Jones, who only trains three or four at a time, wants to make his mark as a boutique trainer, and he explained that Art Angel was a good mare to have in his stable.

The Mark Jones-trained Art Angel has won two races at Bathurst for local thoroughbred breeder and owner, Michael Inglis. Photos: Racing Photography.

“She’s a casual sort of horse, but she is cantankerous, and not the easiest horse to train, and she has had her fair share of issues, but in saying that, she has good determination with what she sets her mind to,” Jones said. 

“She gets back a bit but is always coming home, and basically the nature of the horse is that she likes to race and always keeps trying. 

“I’ve always said to Michael that she will make a nice horse over 1400 to 1600m and we are starting to see that.”

Jones has entered Art Angel in the 1600m Benchmark 66 Handicap at Narromine on Thursday and only time will tell if the four-year-old will make the step up in class but regardless, it may pay to follow the duo.