KIRSTEN Rausing was a thoroughly deserving and hugely popular recipient of the Cartier/The Daily Telegraph Award of Merit to honour her lifelong involvement in the racing industry. She received a lengthy standing ovation as her name was revealed at the Dorchester in London on Wednesday night.
An independently-minded lady, Miss Rausing has not only excelled as an owner and breeder since starting out as a 15-year-old in her native Sweden, but also served as an integral figure in the sport’s governance and administration both nationally and internationally.
In addition, she has provided millions of pounds in funding for a host of causes in racing and in the wider society through the Alborada Trust.
A spectacular year for the owner of Lanwades, St Simon and Staffordstown Studs saw Alpinista carry her colours to glory in the Group 1 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in addition to Eldar Eldarov providing her with a first British classic success as a breeder in the Group 1 St Leger.
A clearly emotional Miss Rausing said: “I’m totally overwhelmed by it all. Many, many years ago, and unlike my Viking forebears, I came to East Anglia in peace. Like some of them, I made the detour by way of Ireland. So when I left my native Sweden I was very fortunate to be able to spend some formative years in Ireland, and I still see that wonderful Emerald Isle as my spiritual home, where I have many, many great friends.
“I’m also extremely grateful to those that have gone before me, that were my mentors in the old days – Margareta Wettermark, Alec Head, Roland de Chambure and, most of all, the late Captain Tim Rogers of Airlie Stud. They all taught me a few aspects of the international thoroughbred breeding industry, which stand me in good stead still to this day.
Miss Rausing will celebrate 42 years in Newmarket on December 1st, she told the packed ballroom. “In that time, we seem to have produced the winners of over 2000 races, including 28 Group 1 races since the Dewhurst of 1984 with Kala Dancer – one of a crop of five yearlings who also included Petoski, winner of the following year’s King George and Queen Elizabeth.
“I had two Group 1 winners in a crop of five yearlings and I thought, ‘this is easy peasy’. I couldn’t understand why the Brits kept telling me how difficult it all was, breeding racehorses. I thought, ‘this is fantastically facile’. It took me 25 years to live it down. That put manners on me, as my Irish friends would say.
“But none of this would have been at all possible but for my wonderful home team, my great team at Lanwades, St Simon and Staffordstown Studs, many of whom have been with me for 25, 30 and more years, and some of whom are here tonight. Julian Lloyd, who has been running Staffordstown for 30 years – but we have been friends for much longer than that. I am immensely grateful to you for your skill, experience, great horsemanship and friendship.
“Alastair Watson, who has been with us at Lanwades for I’ve slightly lost count, but it must be 35 years, and my wonderful, marvellous trainers who have of course contributed to, in particular, this year’s great results. Alpinista, trained by Sir Mark Prescott, Sandrine by Andrew Balding. During the last year we have bred four individual Group 1 winners of six Group 1 races in three countries, on two continents. But there are a few weeks left of the year, so who knows!
“Finally, I should also pay tribute to my great friend Rae Guest. He and I possibly represent the longest racing association here tonight, I’m guessing. Rae and I have been together since 1971 when he rode a very good filly called Highlight (SWE) for his uncle Nelson Guest, who trained in Copenhagen, and this filly was champion two-year-old. Rae this year has trained her seventh generation descendant Melodramatica to win.
“My longevity in this game now means that we have had a slight changing of the guard. Succeeding my great friend the late Lord John Fitzgerald, Richard Frisby has looked after my horses in training and very ably managed them and the liaison between Lanwades and various trainers. And Julian Lloyd at Staffordstown has in turn been succeeded by young John Oxx.
“To all of those mentioned, and some that I may not have mentioned but still bear very much in mind, I would like to express my very sincere, heartfelt thanks for all of your important parts in mine, Lanwades, St Simon and Staffordstown’s success.
“Thanks again to Cartier for this wonderful evening.”
Kirsten Rausing is the only individual female winner, apart from the late Queen Elizabeth who was given a special recognition in 2000, to be honoured with this accolade since the first award was given in 1991.