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Group 1 winner Espiona (Extreme Choice), one of the most talented sprinters of her generation, is expected to garner global attention when she is offered via a special standalone sale by Magic Millions on July 31. 

The daughter of Extreme Choice (Not A Single Doubt) will be presented virtually by Glenesk Thoroughbreds on behalf of Denise Martin’s Star Thoroughbreds ownership group, with auctioneer Clint Donovan conducting proceedings, which will begin at 3pm (AEST).

Trained throughout her career by Chris Waller, Espiona’s standout performance came when she landed the 2023 running of the Coolmore Classic (Gr 1, 1500m) and her seven victories also included a win in that year’s Golden Pendant (Gr 2, 1400m), as well as a brace of Group 3 triumphs. 

The mare’s final win came when she banked a cool $1 million with her victory in The Invitation (1400m) in October last year, signing off her career with a $3,326,715 in prize-money, a huge return on the $190,000 Martin and Randwick Bloodstock Agency’s Brett Howard paid for her at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in 2020. 

However, her final career figures don’t paint a full picture of her consistency as a high-class performer, with the mare also finishing third at elite-level on four occasions. 

During her illustrious career Espiona defeated 28 individual Group 1 winners including outstanding performers Pride Of Jenni (Pride Of Dubai), Chain Of Lightning (Fighting Sun), Fangirl (Sebring), Bella Nipotina (Pride Of Dubai), Asfoora (Flying Artie), Alcohol Free (No Nay Never), Zougotcha (Zoustar), Stefi Magnetica (All Too Hard), Private Eye (Al Maher) and Ruthless Dame (Tavistock).

“She was a very tough horse,” Waller pointed out. “But her racing pattern made it difficult to get the best from her.”

“Like we saw this preparation, she was often in the company of the very best Australian sprinters, and she had enough ability to beat anything.

“She was lightly raced and certainly from a pedigree and ability perspective, she is as good as you need and certainly capable of producing very good quality colts and fillies which would hype their chance in Group 1 races.”

Howard believes Espiona presents a rare opportunity to breeders and places her performances on the track on a par with some of Australia’s best sprinters. 

“I have no doubt Espiona was right up there with the likes of Imperatriz in terms of ability,” Howard said. “She met Imperatriz on three occasions. In last year’s Champion Stakes she made up a stack of ground on Imperatriz, coming from ninth at the 200 metres to run fourth behind her, beaten two lengths, running the race’s fastest last 200 metres, and holding off Bella Nipotina in the process.

“In this year’s Lightning Stakes, both Private Eye [second] and Imperatriz [first] dawdled up front early. Espiona who settled near the rear of the field, was clocked to run the race’s fastest last 800 metres [43.25], 600 metres [32.29], 400 metres [21.47] and 200 metres [10.97], to finish within 0.7 lengths of Imperatriz, once again getting past Bella Nipotina and holding her off at the finish.

“For good measure her peak speed was clocked at 70.92 kilometres per hour, the race’s quickest, ahead of Imperatriz’s 69.59 kilometres per hour. Espiona also recorded the race’s fastest split of 10.5 seconds [400m-200m].

“Their final meeting in this year’s TJ Smith, saw Espiona finish sixth within 0.24 lengths of Imperatriz. After drawing second from the outside, Nash Rawiller had little choice to settle near the rear of the field.

“Held up at a vital stage in the straight, Espiona flashed home to be beaten only 0.8 lengths behind winner Chain of Lightning. Once again she was timed to run the race’s fastest last 600 metres, as well as the fastest last 200 metres. With an ounce of luck in the straight Espiona just wins. 

“I think most people would agree that Espiona’s quirky nature of wanting to hold her head to one side and lug in was one thing which probably stopped her from winning more races. There was a train of thought she was definitely better going the Melbourne way. When she did travel to Melbourne, she never ran a bad race.

“However, she also did many great things in Sydney, including her Coolmore Classic win, her demolition of Atishu and others in the Golden Pendant, and her most unlucky run in the TJ Smith,” Howard added. “You don’t earn a start in The Everest for nothing.”

Espiona is out of winning mare Dahooil (O’Reilly) who is herself a sister to stakes winner Bonny O’Reilly, while she counts Listed scorer Pretty To Sea (Ocean Park) among her half-siblings. Further back she hails from the same family as multiple Group 1 winners Vison And Power (Carnegie) and Glamour Puss (Tale Of The Cat). 

Magic Millions managing director Barry Bowditch said he and his team were “honoured” to be selling a mare of Esponia’s calibre. 

“We are honoured to have been entrusted by Denise Martin and her syndicate of owners to present Espiona to prospective buyers,” Bowditch said. “Through her career she raced against elite horses and proved herself one of the best of her generation.” 

“Being able to offer her through a standalone virtual sale will give the owners, vendor, prospective buyers and interested parties the opportunity to see her sell via a streamlined process by a worldclass auctioneer.

“It will provide Espiona a fitting sales process to take her to the next journey of her life,” Bowditch added.

Any interested parties who would like to inspect Espiona should contact Barry Bowditch (0402 280 538) or James Hetherington (0428 783 300) to make suitable arrangements.

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