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Sunlight and Estijaab enhance Slipper prospects with brilliant sectional times

Ken Boman | 02.03.2018

Outstanding fillies Sunlight (Zoustar) and Estijaab (Snitzel) staged brilliant performances on the watch at Rosehill on Saturday, significantly enhancing their prospects for the upcoming Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m).

Sunlight was having her first start since winning the Magic Millions 2YO Classic (RL, 1200m) at the Gold Coast in January and she took her record to four wins from five starts in narrowly defeating her rival in the Silver Slipper Stakes (Gr 2, 1100m).

And while it was Estijaab’s first defeat in two starts, she arguably put up the better performance after enduring considerable pressure in the lead before Sunlight came with a timely challenge to score in a time of 1:03.51 (11.54 200m rate).

The Team Hawkes-trained Estijaab, a $1,700,000 purchase at the 2017 Sydney Easter Yearling Sales, was quickly away and went straight to the front but was pressured in the early stages by the colt Neutrality (Sebring) before the filly got the upper hand on turning for home.

She was then hotly challenged by the eventual winner at the 300 metres and after quite a battle, Sunlight went on to score in good style by a neck while Estijaab impressed in the courageous manner that she fought to the line after working at such a torrid tempo.

Estijaab returned brilliant early sectionals, her 200 metre breakdown from the 1000 metre point being: 10.81, 10.77 (400m in 21.58), 10.99 (600m in 32.57), 11.25 (800m in 43.82) with her final 200 metres in 11.68 to give her a very fast last 1000 metres in 55.50.

Sunlight also recorded fast times and her effort was very impressive but she did have the better trip, her rider Tim Clark seizing the opportunity to settle back in third spot, tracking the hot pace before making his move in the straight.

In fact Sunlight was timed run her last 1000 metres slightly faster than Estijaab – Sunlight’s 200 metre early sectional breakdown being: 10.76, 10.92 (400m in 21.68), 10.95 (600m in 32.63), 11.11 (800m in 43.74) with her final 200 metres in 11.59 to give her a fast last 1000 metres in 55.33.

Both now head to the Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill on 24 March with strong claims in a race that is shaping as a vintage renewal where they will meet the likes of Performer (Exceed And Excel), Santos (I Am Invincible) and Saturday’s Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Written By (Written Tycoon).

The aforementioned Written By was also stunning on the watch in taking out that rich juvenile feature at Caulfield, overcoming a wide trip at a strong tempo from his difficult barrier (15).

The Grahame Begg-trained colt was again quickly away and showed very good pace before crossing to race in third place but trapped deep. He then moved up to the leader nearing the home turn, dashed clear at the 300 metres and went on to score brilliantly by two and a half lengths.

Time for the race was 1:09.86 but the feature was the early sectionals which demonstrated the fast tempo Written By endured before going on to win decisively.

Clocked from the 1000 metre point, Written By’s 200 metre breakdown was 10.30, 10.97 (400m in 21.27), 11.66 (600m in 32.93), 11.60 (800m in 44.53) with his final 200 metres in 12.26 to give him a fast last 1000 metres in 56.13.

The following race was the Oakleigh Plate (Gr 1, 1100m) which resulted in an exciting finish where the first five horses finished less than a length apart, success going to the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained four-year-old Russian Revolution (Snitzel).

Subsequently retired to stand at Newgate Farm, it was Russian Revolution’s second Group One success in 11 starts and he too did very well in scoring after being caught wide on a hot tempo, winning in a fast 1:03.00 (11.45 200m rate), equivalent to 1200 metres in 1:08.72.

The pace was set by the flying mare Snitty Kitty (Snitzel) who was brilliantly away from her difficult barrier (17) and showed her renowned pace to lead and then led the field until halfway down the straight before battling gamely for a very good second, beaten a half-neck.

Snitty Kitty’s early sectional times were simply outstanding, her 200 metre breakdown (from the 1000 metre point) being 10.20, 10.36 (400m in 20.56), 11.17 (600m in 31.72), 11.42 (800m in 43.15) with her final 200 metres in 12.25 to give her a last 1000 metres in 55.40.

Another on-pace performance to impress On The Watch was the victory in a totally different type of race, the weight-for-age Peter Young Stakes (Gr 2, 1800m), that was taken out by the Darren Weir-trained, French-bred gelding Gailo Chop (Deportivo).

Soon crossing to his preferred front-running role by rider Mark Zahra, Gailo Chop ran along at a very genuine tempo, not a hectic pace but it was solid and consistent throughout the 1800 metre journey, which turned the race into quite a test of stamina.

Gailo Chop then safely held off challengers in the straight and went on to win by a length and a quarter from the durable and ever-reliable mare Single Gaze (Not A Single Doubt) with the multiple Group One winner Hartnell (Authorized) two and a quarter lengths further back in third.

Time for the 1800 metre journey was 1:48.26 (200 metre rate of 12.02) and Gailo Chop’s 200 metre breakdown revealed all those sections at around that pace, or slightly quicker, best demonstrated by Gailo’s Chop’s time for the final 1600 metres, which was an impressive 1:34.45.

A dual Group One winner, Gailo Chop is now CrownBet’s $3 favourite for the Australian Cup (Gr 1, 2000m) to be run at Flemington on Saturday week.

While the last word has been reserved for a two-year-old filly that really took the eye of On The Watch with her effort when a late-closing second on debut in a two-year-old fillies’ maiden (1100m) at Rosehill on Wednesday.

She is the Kris Lees-trained filly Miss Fabulass, who is by unbeaten champion Frankel (Galileo) from the three-time Group One winning mare Samantha Miss (Redoute’s Choice).

Kerrin McEvoy eased her from her outside barrier (11) and remained near the tail of the field until switching deep halfway down the straight. Miss Fubulass then came with a strong run, making many lengths to finish second, beaten a short neck by the Godolphin-raced filly Cristobal (Exceed And Excel).

Visually, Miss Fabulass was impressive and her performance was confirmed by fast closing sectional times with her last 1000 metres in 56.95, last 800 metres in 45.56, last 600 metres in 33.58 with her final 400 metres in a fast 22.29.

It was an outstanding debut effort from a filly that possesses a blue ribbon pedigree which suggests Miss Fabulass is potentially the makings of a high quality performer.

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