Classic Sale is raining winners

published: 08 Feb 2017 in Inglis Classic Sale 2017

Does Australian racing have a new fairytale filly?

If the celebrations in the Randwick owners’ parade in mid-December when She Will Reign surged to the lead in the Inglis Nursery (1000m) are any guide, one may say “yes”. The She Will Reign - now $8 outright Golden Slipper favourite with the TAB – story is a special one, in that her family’s connection with her current owners goes back a long way. The 2YO filly was purchased for $20,000 by Darby Racing at the 2016 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale, but that’s not really the beginning. Darby Racing’s racing manager Mark Holland broke in her mother – metro-winning Charge Forward mare Courgette - for her initial trainer Gerald Ryan in 2009, after she was purchased for $25,000 at the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale. The Darby Racing team then purchased Courgette as a tried horse in 2011. Things never went to plan with her on the track so it was decided by fellow owner Garry Bachell to breed with her. 

So breed with her they did, firstly sending Courgette to Arrowfield’s Manhattan Rain. The result was a beautiful filly that Bachell decided to sell at the Classic Sale. Darby Racing jumped at the chance to buy the good sort, and sent her to Michael Costa to train at Warwick Farm. But when Costa decided to move his operations to the Gold Coast, it was decided to hand the, as it were, reins to Gary Portelli. Courgette has two other foals on the ground, a Shamus Award filly and a colt by the late Time For War. And ironically, Courgette started her racing career in the Inglis Nursery, finishing seventh behind Chance Bye in 2009. “I remember after I’d broken Courgette in and she went to Gerald’s, he rang me and was like wow, this thing can gallop,’’ Holland recalled. “She was always above average but she had soundness issues. But it looks like she might have transferred some of that class to her broodmare career too, which is no surprise really.’’ She Will Reign’s career started in a Kembla Grange maiden on Saturday December 10, when under the guidance of apprentice jockey Deanne Panya, she put eight and a quarter lengths on her rivals in a devastating victory. Her winning time on debut was 0.01 secs outside the track record set by Emila in 2011.

Following that first run, Scott Darby of Darby Racing knew he had a special filly, but given it was only a Kembla Maiden, he remained unsure as to how good. At the time he said: “We were all hoping for something special but I don’t think anyone expected that. “From everything she had showed us on the track back home, we thought she could win but to do what she did and with the ease in which she did it, who knows how good she might be.’’ A week later, She Will Reign’s connections decided to back her up in the $500,000 Inglis Nursery at Randwick. After a week of rain in Sydney, there was serious doubt whether the hot favourite would contest the Nursery or be saved for the autumn. But when waking to blue skies on race day, it was decided to race her. 

And what a decision that proved to be, as She Will Reign put four lengths on her rivals to storm into outright Golden slipper favouritism. “Some were saying it’s too hard to back up within a week, she’s a risk on the wet track, whatever, but we always knew that if we ran her, she would be very hard to beat and that’s how it’s panned out,’’ Darby said.

She Will Reign will now look to do what Mossfun did three years ago and use the Inglis Nursery as a winning platform ahead of Golden Slipper glory the following autumn. She may also try to ‘do an Extreme Choice’, who won the Nursery last year and then went on to win the Blue Diamond Stakes, another potential target for She Will Reign. Trainer Portelli struggled to hide his excitement after the Nursery win. “That acceleration she showed…she lengthened stride and put it beyond doubt straight away,’’ he said. “She is fast, strong, a natural.’’

The challenge facing Portelli now is getting She Will Reign to compete over the Golden Slipper distance of 1200m, given both her wins have come over the 1000m trip. “Up to 1100m, there are not too many around that can beat her,’’ the trainer said. “The jury is out on how far she will get, but our next job is to teach her to run the trip.’’ It’s the opposite scenario facing Peter and Paul Snowden, Newgate Farm, China Horse Club and the other owners involved with Inglis Sprint winner Calanda. The 3YO Calanda (Snitzel x Speedy Bell), a $200,000 purchase for Newgate in conjunction with China Horse Club at the 2015 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, is starting to build an impressive record, the Inglis Sprint being his second win from four starts. (He also has two minor placings to his name).

Part-owner Henry Field of Newgate Farm hasn’t been surprised with Calanda’s early hot form, but doesn’t believe the gelding will reach his full potential until he gets over more ground. “He was a very athletic horse from the beginning and he always struck us as a seven furlong to a mile horse so for him to be doing this over five-and-a-half to six furlongs is nice,’’ Field said. “A horse like him you’d typically have sent out and be getting ready for the autumn but when Inglis put on races like this for $250,000, you have to go for them. “He’ll go for a break now. One target we thought was the Inglis Guineas at Scone in May, then onto Brisbane. After that, who knows.’’

Calanda is a half-brother to Group 3 winner Speedy Natalie and Silverstream, which won the Listed Jungle Dawn Classic at Ascot in early December. He is the seventh winner for Speedy Bell, who raced just four times and won the Listed Gimcrack Stakes. Speedy Bell herself was an Inglis graduate, selling to Steve Englebrecht for $20,000 at the 1999 Classic Yearling Sale. Speedy Bell’s last foal – an I Am Invincible colt – is being offered at the 2017 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale in the Yarraman Park draft.