Speedy juvenile filly Ennis Hill impresses with her dazzling pace
The Lindsay Park-trained and Coolmore-raced Ennis Hill (Fastnet Rock) took the eye with her dazzling pace that saw the speedy filly score an impressive first-up victory in Saturday’s Chairman’s Stakes (Gr 3, 1000m) at Caulfield.
Having her first start since her debut fourth behind talented colt Ollivander (Charge Forward) in the Turf Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on 16 December, Ennis Hill returned brilliant early sectional times before scoring quite comfortably in a fast 57.20 for the 1000 metre journey.
A comparison of the time recorded in the open sprint, the W J Adams Stakes (Listed, 1000m) later in the programme was a clear demonstration of the merit of Ennis Hill’s performance.
In the W J Adams Stakes the four-year-old mare Lady Esprit (Bel Esprit) remained at the tail of the field, tracking a hot pace before coming with a strong late run to win in the fast time of 56.57.
Meanwhile Ennis Hill, a two-year-old filly having only her second start, set the pace herself, maintained it to the post and scored by a length and a half in a time of 57.20 – only 0.45 seconds slower than the experienced quality sprinters recorded later in the day.
Clocked from the 800 metre point, Ennis Hill returned 200 metre sections of 10.48, 10.76 (400m in 21.24), 10.85 (600m in 32.09) with her final 200 metres in 11.60 to give her a fast final 800 metre time of 43.69.
Ennis Hill now adds to the growing and impressive list of juveniles from Lindsay Park headed to the Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) at Caulfield on 24 February.
Whether she can set a similar pace and hold off the quality horses that she is likely to meet advancing to 1200 metres in that Group One feature remains to be seen, but there is little doubt that this talented filly will prove effective for some time to come, especially over shorter distances.
Others to take the eye on the watch in the Chairman’s Stakes included the runner-up Encryption (Lonhro) and the third-placed Prairie Fire (Snitzel).
The Godolphin-raced colt Encryption had raced in fourth place, went to second at the 200 metres and then fought on very well for second while the Mick Price-trained colt Prairie Fire came from the tail of the seven-horse field to take the minor placing in promising fashion.
Encryption was timed to run his final 800 metres in 43.89, last 600 metres in 33.22, last 400 metres in 22.28 with his last 200 metres in 11.45. He was resuming after two placings at stakes level at his only prior starts and looks a smart colt.
Prairie Fire, who was racing on debut, returned even quicker closing sectionals with his final 800 metres in 43.79, last 800 metres in 32.93, last 400 metres in 22.13 with his final 200 metres in 11.40 and is clearly a horse with a good future.
Later on the Caulfield card, the quality Darren Weir-trained Cliff’s Edge (Canford Cliffs) showed that he is primed for a very good preparation by taking out the Manfred Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m), a race expected to be too short for the talented three-year-old colt.
Winner of the Norman Robinson Stakes (Gr 3, 2000m) at Caulfield in October, Cliff’s Edge was having his first run since sixth in the Emirates Stakes (registered as LKS Mackinnon Stakes) (Gr 1, 2000m) at Flemington on 11 November.
He was given a good trip by John Allen in fifth place on the rails, behind a quick tempo, before getting along the inner from the 200 metres to score by a long neck, seemingly with something in hand and in the fast time of 1:08.93.
Cliff’s Edge returned impressive closing sectional times, with his final 1000 metres in 55.23, last 800 metres in 44.67, last 600 metres in 33.91, last 400 metres in 22.83 with his final 200 metres in 11.63.
At Rosehill on Saturday, the early Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) favourite Performer (Exceed And Excel) made his keenly awaited return to racing after his stylish victory in the Breeders’ Plate (Listed, 1000m) at Randwick in September, which he had won easily in a fast 56.82.
That was a strongly run race throughout which brought out the best in Performer but Saturday’s Canonbury Stakes (Gr 3, 1100m) was a vastly different affair.
The leader Stratosphere (Snitzel) returned moderate early sectionals, resulting in a moderate 600 metre section (from the 1000m point to the 400m) of 36.25 – a 200 metre rate of 12.08.
The pace then lifted dramatically on reaching the 400 metres mark, and that final section was run in a brilliant 21.45 – a much quicker 200 metre rate of 10.72.
Carrying three kilograms more than the runner-up Stratosphere, Performer to the eye may have looks a little disappointing as he fought hard for a slender short-half-head victory but the clock tells a different story.
Accelerating off a slow tempo, at his first start in over four months and carrying 57.5 kilograms, Performer returned the fastest final 400 metres of the race in 21.29.
Given a solid pace in the Golden Slipper Stakes, which is usually the case, On The Watch still sees the Chris Waller-trained colt as the horse to beat at Rosehill on 24 March.
Acknowledgment is due, however, not only to the runner-up Stratosphere, but also the third-placed colt Exceltic (Excelebration).
Stratosphere is a stylish chestnut colt from the Peter and Paul Snowden stable that was having his first race start and he showed quality in the manner in which he fought back, doing so by dashing home his final 400 metres in a fast 21.45.
The Gary Portelli-trained Exceltic, meanwhile, raced in fourth place on the rails and after getting into clear running halfway down the straight, did well in the sprint home with a quick 21.52 for his final 400 metres for a promising third, also on debut.
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