One of This Filly Can’s headline horses of 2016, Mrs Danvers, is flying the flag for her sire Hellvelyn. Grace Pugh caught up with trainer Jonathan Portman to find out how he came about training the filly and also discussed her future plans.

Sire: Hellvelyn
Dam: Rebecca De Winter
Year of Birth: 2014
Trainer: Jonathan Portman
Owner: Turf Club 2014
Breeder: M A Burton & Connie Hopper

Jonathan Portman became associated with Mrs Danvers in February this year when a small breeder approached over a dozen trainers via email asking if any of them would be interested in training the filly. Portman visited the daughter of Hellvelyn at a breaking yard and instantly thought she had potential. Her pedigree showed early two-year-old speed which at the time was something he was lacking in his yard, with his stables filled with more slowly maturing horses to campaign later in the season.

Mrs Danvers was sent to Tattersalls Ireland (Ascot) sales with the intention of qualifying her for auction races, such as the Super Sprint, which was an early conceived plan due to her pedigree. If the breeders were offered enough money at the auction she would have been sold but luckily the bidding only reached £1,000 which was not enough for the owner breeders to part ways with the filly. She was brought back from the sale and put into training with Portman who then had the task of finding an owner to lease her.

He approached the ‘Turf Club 2014’ who primarily invest in jump horses and in an effort to convince them of her potential, promised the syndicate she would win the Weatherbys Super Sprint. One of the Turf Club’s members, a Director at Weatherbys, thought the idea of winning the race sponsored by his organisation too good an opportunity to turn down and the syndicate were duly persuaded.

Portman added that Mrs Danvers always looked like she had potential, she had the stamp and attitude of a nice horse and was uncomplicated to train. Her first win on her first start at Lingfield Park did not come as a complete surprise to Portman, but the manner in which she did and the horses she beat exceeded even his expectations.

Just over a fortnight later she re-appeared on the track, this time at Windsor, where she retained her 100% strike rate to win a conditions event by a comfortable two and a quarter lengths.

Her next engagement was the much anticipated mid-season target the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury. Mrs Danvers lived up to Portman’s promise to the Turf Club by winning the Super Sprint by 1 ¼ lengths in an extremely professional fashion landing the first prize of £122,925.

‘Mrs Danvers is a triumph for small breeders and lesser known stallions’
Jonathan Portman

The filly’s most recent start at Newbury offered more modest prize money, but a step up in grade to Black Type. The Listed Bathwick Tyres St Hugh’s Fillies’ Stakes in August became Mrs Danvers fourth win from as many runs. Her successes have given sire Hellvelyn a much needed leg up in the breeding ranks.

Portman mentioned the next target for Mrs Danvers will be the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes on Dubai Future Champions Day at Newmarket on October 7, after which she will be put away for the winter and brought back in training next year.

Portman surmised ‘she has been an incredibly fun horse to have in the yard for all the staff and for the owners and we hope she will train on nicely for her 3-year-old campaign.’


For more information visit the Jonathan Portman website: