Congregation (AUS)

Congregation (AUS)

2 c Snitzel – Response by Forward Charge

O: Coolmore, Wynaus, Westerberg, Mr J Poulin, Sir P J Vela, Chris Waller Racing, Lynque, Woppitt Bloodstock, Peachester Lodge Pty Ltd, Mr K J Pooley, Mrs J L Pooley, Rockingham Thoroughbreds, Mr R McClure, Mr K Yoshida

B: Arrowfield Group Pty Ltd, Jungle Pocket Pty Ltd

T: Chris Waller

S: 2022 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale V: Arrowfield Stud P: Tom Magnier, $2.25 million

W: TAB 2YO Maiden Handicap, 1250m, May 24, Canterbury

A fancy pedigree combined with a headline-grabbing sales price meant all eyes were on Congregation (Snitzel) when he made his competitive debut at Canterbury on Wednesday and while the colt has someway to go to match the exploits of his famous sibling, he got his career off to the best possible start.

Bought for a cool $2.25 million at last year’s Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, the brother to 2018 Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Estijaab, now in the care of Chris Waller, stamped his potential with a narrow, but very good, winning debut.

Settled back in sixth place in the ten-runner field, he improved under riding from the 600-metre mark, switched deeper on turning for home and responded well to Kerrin McEvoy’s urgings to take the lead 100 metres out before going on to score, with something in hand, by a short-neck from the $625,000 Lonhro (Octagonal) colt Dumebi in a 1250-metre maiden.

“He was a little bit raw, during the race he rolled around the corner a few times,” McEvoy said on dismounting.

“He picked up and concentrated for 100 yards there and then had a look around when he got in front.

“[He’s a] lovely colt who’s only going to keep going forward in the next six or nine months.”

Congregation has a high-profile group of owners led by Coolmore and the Kepitis family’s Woppitt Bloodstock, who also race Slipper winner Shinzo (Snitzel) with Waller.

Stable representative Charlie Duckworth was unsure of immediate plans for Congregation but said he did a good job to respond when McEvoy asked for an effort.

“He lengthened out nicely and it ended up looking like a soft win, despite what you would have seen at the 600 [metres],” Duckworth said.

“He’s a horse with plenty of talent and it’s just completely untapped at the moment.

“I’m sure once he works it all out it’s going to be pretty exciting for everyone. There’s a massive amount of improvement.”

Congregation is the fifth winner from six to race out of the dual Group 1 winner Response (Forward Charge). As well as Estijaab, he is a brother to the stakes-placed Remarque and a half-brother to Alter Call (Fastnet Rock), herself a stakes-placegetter also.

Response was a $50,000 Easter yearling purchase for Barry and Midge Griffiths in 2008. A winner of more than $835,000 in prize-money, she was an $840,000 purchase for SF Bloodstock at the 2012 Inglis Australian Easter Broodmare Sale. Three years later, she made $1.5 million when being sold to Katsumi Yoshida at the 2015 National Broodmare Sale.

Response has a weanling colt by The Autumn Sun (Redoute’s Choice) and was again covered by Snitzel last spring. A yearling brother to Congregation and Estijaab sold for $1.4 million to Kia Ora and TFI at this year’s Inglis Easter sale.

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