Matilda Picotte Horse Of A Lifetime

Matilda Picotte streaking clear of the field to close in on the finish line

On a soft, murky, misty March morning in a stable somewhere in County Kildare, the fourteen year old mare Hallie’s Comet pushed her seventh foal into this big, bad world. Hallie’s Comet tragically lost her life when giving birth, but she produced a fine, healthy, bay filly by Sioux Nation on that fateful day in 2020. Four years later, her foal has gone on to become one of the fastest racehorses on the planet. Her name is Matilda Picotte and this is her story.

Matilda Picotte Breeding & Pedigree

It all began the best part of a year earlier when Hallie’s Comet headed to Coolmore Stud for a hot date with Sioux Nation. It was the young stallion’s first season at stud and, for the princely sum of €12,500, it proved to be a shrewd bit of matching by Mighty Universe Ltd.

Hallie’s Comet had already produced a couple of winners as a broodmare. The very useful Haley Bop by Dream Ahead was a decent handicapper, winning four races at 6f to 8f for Mark Johnston. She has since retired to stud herself and a couple of Matilda Picotte’s owners have invested in one of her sons, a 2yo now in training with Kieran Cotter.

She was also covered twice by Dragon Pulse and those foals had very different profiles. One was a dual winner at seven furlongs, the other has won at three miles over hurdles. Breeding can be a head scratching pursuit at times but whatever the chemistry was between Hallie’s Comet and Sioux Nation, it produced an explosively fast filly in the shape of Matilda Picotte.

The Weather Gods

Funnily enough, if it wasn’t for the famously unpredictable Irish weather, Matilda Picotte and her future owners may never have crossed paths. Even the weather Gods have played a part in this amazing story.

It was a dark and cloudy midweek afternoon when Kieran Cotter went to have a look at a young colt that Matilda Picotte’s future owners were interested in buying. However, the moody sky overhead started rumbling with thunder and his original mission had to be aborted.

After a quick phone call, Cotter diverted to another location to look at a couple of yearling fillies and this was where he first laid eyes on Matilda Picotte.

She was sharing a field with another Sioux Nation filly who has also turned out to be pretty good, Ocean Quest, but Cotter had fallen head over heels with Matilda. It wasn’t long before a deal was done and so the fairytale began.

How did Matilda Picotte get her name?

The first task that fell to her new owners was to think of a name for their purchase. They all agreed on naming her in honour of one of the most famous native American Lakota Sioux women of her generation.

Matilda Picotte, also known as ‘Eagle Woman’, was born in 1820 in Lakota and she is known for being the only woman ever to become a chief of the Sioux Tribe. She was the first ever female to sign a treaty with the US government in 1882 and one source calls her ‘the most noted Indian woman of all the Western Indian Nations’.

Matilda Picotte – Thrilling Debut Win

Matilda Picotte had done everything Kieran Cotter had asked of her since going into training. She was showing him a lot of speed on the gallops at his base in County Laois and he didn’t have anything capable of working with her. The phrase ‘catching pigeons’ may have been used to describe how well her homework was going.

The decision was made to enter her in a Naas maiden in late April but those plans were shelved after she came into season. Her first ever run came at the Curragh a week later and boy, what a debut it was. Declan McDonogh rode, the trip was six furlongs and the ground was yielding.

Made All

Sent off at 8/1, Matilda Picotte bounced out from stall 17, went to the front and never came back. It was the first glimpse the racing public got of her blistering speed and her rivals simply couldn’t cope with it.

After three furlongs she had the rest of them off the bridle, after four furlongs the whips were out, yet McDonogh was still sitting as quietly as a church mouse at the front of the field. He pushed her out at the one furlong pole and he was easing up by the time she crossed the line.

The record books show it was a two length win but in truth, it was a lot more decisive than that.

Up In Class

When McDonogh came back to the winner’s enclosure the first thing he said was ‘this is a stakes filly’. Her owners took him for his word and her next two starts came in Group 3 and Group 2 company.

She produced an excellent effort to finish fourth in a G3 at Naas on just her second start, beaten only 1.25L for the win by Meditate. She subsequently earned some precious black type in the Group 2 Airlie Stud Stakes on her third start, finishing third, 1.5L behind Statuette.

Her next mission was to go for a monstrous pot at Naas in the Ballyhane Stakes. She ran a massive race to finish second of twenty four runners, taking home a cool €58.5k in prize money. Next on her radar was the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York and she again ran a massive race to finish a fine third on ground plenty quick for her, 2.75L behind the winner Swingalong.

Off The Mark

It was only a matter of time before Matilda Picotte was rewarded for her consistency in Stakes company and after a couple of months off, she pitched up at Newmarket at the backend of October for the Listed Bosra Sham Stakes, a 6f race for fillies only.

This time, she made no mistake. She had clearly strengthened up for her break and just like on her debut, McDonogh went to the front and never came back. She made all for a comfortable 1.5L win and a plan was hatched to come back to Newmarket for the 1000 Guineas in 2023.

Matilda Picotte 2yo Results

RaceResultPrize Money
IBF Median Sires Maiden1st€14,750
Irish EBF Fillies Sprint (Group 3)4th€2,720
Airlie Stud Stakes (Group 2)3rd€10,800
Ballyhane Stakes2nd€58,500
Lowther Stakes (Group 2)3rd£28,783
Bosra Sham Stakes (Listed)1st£22,967.55

Three Year Old Campaign

The decision was made to step Matilda up in trip to seven furlongs for her seasonal return in the Group 3 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown. Cotter knew she would improve for the run so when she finished a clear second, 2.5L clear of Juddmonte’s Zarinsk in third, he was absolutely thrilled.

That run dispelled any doubts about her participation at Newmarket and her owners were confident that she would handle the step up to a mile.

2023 1000 Guineas

The 2023 1000 Guineas was a star studded affair. The 2022 Moyglare winner Tahiyra was the clear 6/4 favourite and Meditate, Matilda’s conqueror at Naas the previous May, was next best in the betting at 5/1. Godolphin’s regally bred filly Mawj could be backed at 9/1 and the bookies didn’t seem to give Matilda much of a chance at all.

In the lead up to the race, odds of 66/1 were widely available. Matilda’s owners were bullish she’d run a huge race and by the time of the off, those odds had halved into 33/1.

Drawn in stall 7, Ronan Whelan sent Matilda to the front and her high cruising speed was evident yet again. After five fast furlongs she had every one of her rivals flat out, apart from Tahiyra and Mawj. Those two stronger stayers pulled clear in the closing stages but Matilda Picotte proved far too quick for the rest of her opponents and she finished an excellent third, two lengths clear of the remainder.

Yet more black type in the bag, but this time in a Classic.

Minor Blip

Her next two runs were not up to her usual high standard but she had valid excuses for those below par efforts at Haydock and Goodwood. They proved to be just a minor blip because she bounced back to form on home soil at Tipperary in September.

In that 7.5F Group 3 she just got caught close to home by Clever And Cool. Two weeks later, she headed to Doncaster for the Group 3 Sceptre Fillies’ Stakes over 7F. The bookies made her the joint third favourite at 6/1 behind Cachet and Nigiri but yet again, she proved the oddsmakers spectacularly wrong.

It was the first time Oisin Murphy got to ride her and it proved to be a match made in heaven. They bounced out from stall 5, cruised to the front, kicked clear two furlongs from home and absolutely destroyed the rest of the field to score by almost four lengths. Matilda had now won at Listed and Group 3 level, next on her agenda was the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket in October.

Group 2 Winner

Oisin Murphy retained the ride after Doncaster and this time, Matilda Picotte faced just three rivals at Newmarket. It was a small field but the opposition included the 115 rated Chindit and the subsequent Lockinge winner Audience, so it was a very strong race.

Matilda Picotte was sent off at odds of 2/1 and the result was never really in doubt. Audience and Chindit simply couldn’t lie up with her and in the end, she sickened them with her ultra-high cruising speed. Lord Massusus eventually stayed on to finish second. It was another spectacular display of speed by Matilda and a fitting end to a brilliant three year old campaign.

3yo Results

RaceResultPrize Money
Guineas Trial (Group 3)2nd€10,450
1000 Guineas (Group 1)3rd£53,800
Sandy Lane Stakes (Group 2)4th£6,700
Oak Tree Stakes9thN/A
Fairy Bridge Stakes (Group 3)2nd€10,450
Sceptre Fillies’ Stakes (Group 3)1st£45,368
Challenge Stakes (Group 2)1st£70,887.50

Matilda Picotte Saudi Adventure

Next on Matilda Picotte’s hitlist was a trip to Saudi Arabia for the Group 2 1351 Sprint at Riyadh. Held on the same card as the most valuable race in the world, the Saudi Cup, this race was extremely lucrative in its own right with just under £1,000,000 going to the winner.

The trip was just under seven furlongs, the ground was unsuitably good to firm and Matilda Picotte was given the worst possible draw for a front runner in stall fourteen. Yet more adversity for her to overcome but as ever, she ran her absolute heart out.

Matilda broke smartly from the stalls, like she usually does, and she got to the front. The extra little bit of energy she needed to use in the early stages probably cost her 3 or 4 places at the finish but she still ran another brilliant race to finish just 2.25L behind the winner Annaf in fifth.

It was a typically brave and gutsy effort by Matilda and she managed to earn another £47k in prize money for her very proud owners.

4yo Results

RaceResultPrize Money
1351 Sprint Riyadh (Group 2)5th£47,244.09

Matilda Picotte Next Race

The main aim for Matilda Picotte this season is to gain her first win at Group 1 level. Kieran Cotter and her owners have decided to target six furlong races this season as that is the ideal trip for her to show her sensational speed.

She may well return to action in the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh if there’s a drop of rain but if she doesn’t get her ground, a French foray could be on the cards.

Her primary target for the 2024 season is the Group 1 Prix Maurice De Gheest at Deauville in August. However, don’t be surprised to see her strutting her stuff in some of the biggest sprints throughout the season, especially if we get another wet summer.

Matilda Picotte FAQs

Who owns Matilda Picotte?

Matilda Picotte is owned by the Matilda and Kilmichael Racing Partnership. It is a syndicate made up of a diverse range of owners and they have had the time of their lives since getting involved in the filly.

Who is Matilda Picotte’s trainer?

Matilda Picotte is trained by Kieran Cotter. He is an Irish handler based near Portarlington in County Laois, right in the heart of Ireland. Cotter has trained some good horses in his time but Matilda Picotte is the best he has ever had.

What is Matilda Picotte’s biggest win?

To date, Matilda Picotte’s biggest win came in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket in 2023. She has also won at Group 3 and Listed Level and she also placed third in the 2023 1000 Guineas.