What about 2040 metres?
Aided by a great ride by Craig Williams, tough-as-teak Mr Brightside (Bullbars) played his part by defying his class rivals in Saturday’s Memsie Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m).
Easy to spot after the event, the ratings listed Mr Brightside, I Wish I Win (Savabeel) and Alligator Blood (All Too Hard) each rated at 116. The next highest rated runner, at 111, was Princess Grace (Karakontie). The top four were the first four past the post.
The same four separated themselves from the rest of the field at the 100-metre mark and just three-quarters of a length covered them at the finish.
Mr Brightside’s wide draw, then sitting three deep the journey would normally provide plenty of excuses for defeat. Not many can get past the likes of an Alligator Blood yet, bulldog fashion, he did just that. Then, within the shadows of the post he had to ward off a serious challenge from I Wish I Win, with Princess Grace coming hard along the fence.
“He was really tough. I just loved the way he stuck his head out and pinned back his ears,” said Williams.
For Mr Brightside it was his first weight-for-age Group 1, his other two achieved in handicaps, although not just any handicaps. Two Doncaster Handicaps (Gr 1, 1600m) to be exact, in his second he was carrying second top-weight.
The son of Bullbars (Elusive Quality) is only getting better. This time last year he also won his first two starts for the new season, the PB Lawrence Stakes (Gr 2, 1400) then the Feehan Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m) before losing his way in three Group 1s, all beyond 1600m.
Back to 1600m, he was a length-and-a-quarter behind Alligator Blood, running third in the Champions Mile (Gr 1, 1600m). Last autumn, he took three starts to win again and has not been beaten since, sequencing the All-Star Mile (1600m), his second Doncaster, his second PB Lawrence and Saturday’s Memsie.
Now a six-year-old, the question remains: Can he win beyond 1600 metres? What about the 2040 metres of the Cox Plate (Gr 1)? To answer that question, Craig Williams’ after-race comment might (or might not) explain. “He’s going to be the best miler in Australia, and if the boys want to go somewhere else with him as well, I’m sure this horse won’t disappoint them. I’ll be happy to put my saddle on wherever he goes.”
His sire, Bullbars, succeeded at 1400 metres at three and was second in the Australian Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m). His only other stakes winners, Beauden and Contessa Vanessa, scored stakes wins beyond 2000 metres.
Bullbars’ sire, Elusive Quality (Gone West), sired six Group 1 winners who succeeded at 2000 metres and further, the best–known being Kentucky Derby (Gr 1, 10f) victor, Smarty Jones and Breeders’ Cup Classic (Gr 1, 10f) champion, Raven’s Pass.
Bullbars is from a Singspiel (In The Wings) mare. Singspiel won at the classic distance of a mile-and-a-half, while Bullbars’ grandam is by The Derby (Gr 1, 12f)-winner Mill Reef (Never Bend).
By some coincidence Bullbars’ half-brother Pericles (Street Boss) won Saturday’s Tramway Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m) at Randwick. Of the five stakes winners from their dam Accessories (Singspiel), Pericles is the only one to score beyond 1600 metres.
Bullbars is certainly well-related as the half-brother to multiple Group 1 winners Helmet (Exceed And Excel) and Epaulette (Commands).
Mr Brightside is from Lilahjay, a Tavistock (Montjeu) mare. Tavistock himself was a brilliant sprinter-miler yet his stock, Entriviere being an exception, are better known over ground.
Mr Brightside’s dam Lilahjay shares much in common with Marquess (Tavistock), an up-and-comer discussed in last week’s Kiwi Chronicles. Lilahjay’s grandam, Delia’s Choice (Sir Tristram) is not only a sister to Sovereign Red and Gurner’s Lane, she is also a half-sister to Scarlet Robin (First Consul), the third dam of Marquess.
On blood, Mr Brightside should get 2000 metres. Which way has he thrown? With several opportunities leading up to the grand final of the Cox Plate it won’t be long before we find out.
She is not overly big, but Chantilly Lace (U S Navy Flag) has plenty of heart, according to her trainer Chrissy Bambry. “She doesn’t shy away from a fight and when she gets her head in front she is hard to run down,” Bambry said.
And such was the case in Saturday’s Wanganui Guineas (Listed, 1200m) in which Chantilly Lace had few options when drawing the outside barrier. She settled second last and shared last at the 600 metres before making her run, widest, rounding into the straight. With three lengths to make up she improved to be a close fourth inside the 200 metres, then co-led at the 100. Fifty metres out the lead was narrow but she refused to be headed, holding out the solid challenge of Lantern Way (Satono Aladdin).
Wanganui is proving a happy hunting ground for the filly. Her previous start at the track (June 3) resulted in a win in the Castletown Stakes (Listed, 1200m) and her maiden win, back in February was also at the track. From nine starts, she has accumulated three wins and a stakes-placed third in the Auckland Futurity Stakes (Listed, 1400m).
Chantilly Lace’s detailed family connections were discussed in Kiwi Chronicles after her Castletown Stakes win in June. She sold for $66,000 out of the Gavelhouse Valachi Downs on-line dispersal sale and is one of three winners from her dam, On The Move (More Than Ready), a daughter of Brisbane Group 1 winner Russeting (Commands).
Russeting’s grandam is Biancaneve (Salieri), a three-quarter sister to the great sprinter, Schillaci (Salieri), winner of 16 races including eight Group 1s and a bank of more than $2.3 million.
Forina (Vibrant), (Biancaneve’s dam and Schillaci’s grandam), won the 1974 Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m).
Youngsters fight it out
Wanganui always stages the first race of the new season for the babies and the 800-metre event drew a small field of six, but in a stirring finish only a nose separated fillies Bellatrix Star (Star Witness) and outsider, Hard Attack (All Too Hard).
August 1 trial winner Bellatrix Star started favourite, but was tossing her head about before they straightened. Michael McNab had her sufficiently balanced from the 300 metres, but Hard Attack had a sizable lead. Bellatrix Star gained quickly to level up at the 100, but there was nothing between the two all the way to the post, decided in a head bob, the only time Bellatrix Star’s nose was in front. The time, 46.47 seconds, was good considering the Soft 7 track.
Te Akau’s David Ellis found Bellatrix Star early in this year’s NZB Karaka Yearling Sale. From Janine Dunlop’s Phoenix Park draft, she was Lot 20 and Ellis secured the filly on behalf of the Fortuna Syndicate for $80,000.
She has some nice bloodlines. Her sire, Star Witness (Starcraft) was a Coolmore Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner and her dam is an Exceed And Excel (Danehill) daughter of The Party Stand (Thorn Park), winner of the New Zealand Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m).
The Party Stand is a half-sister to Raadisi (Volksraad), dam of four-time Group 1 winner and $1.4 million earner, Callsign Mav (Atlante).
Fairdale family on fire
Fairdale Stud’s Gerald Fell fired off a text to me last week. It asked the question: Have you noticed the latest star of our family in South Africa?
He was, of course, referring to the Ngatawa (Llanstephan) family responsible for the stud’s flying filly Ajasco (Pakistan II) and Ajasco’s daughter Silver Liner (Sovereign Edition), both winners of the Railway Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m).
My curiosity was piqued and sure enough Princess Calla (Flower Alley) has taken the South African Group 1 scene by the scruff of the neck, notching three in succession between June 3 and July 30.
A model of consistency, Princess Calla has raced 23 times for eleven wins (four Group 1s) and nine placings. She won her only start at two, ridden by none other than Craig Zackey, who was a big loss to our jockey ranks recently.
At three she raced nine times landing a Group 2 (also ridden by Zackey), a Group 3 and placed second or third in five Group 1s. Her five starts at four resulted in her first elite-level success, at Turffontein in the Empress Club Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m).
Her just concluded five-year-old season has seen her reach her pinnacle. From eight starts she won six, her last three all Group 1s, namely the South African Fillies Sprint (Gr 1, 1200m), the Garden Province Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) and the Champions Cup (Gr 1, 1800m).
Her racing style is to sit just off the pace but she also has the desire to grab the lead quite a long way from home. Once in front she breaks their hearts, always strong to the line. Her versatility is to be admired. She won over 1000 metres at the beginning of last season, then added wins at 1200 metres, 1600 metres and 1800 metres.
The South African connection began when Silver Liner’s daughter Petrava (Imposing) was purchased from Wrightson Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale in 1983 for $110,000. Petrava became the Champion 3YO Filly there, winning five times at the elite level and via her daughter, NZ-bred Hoeberg (Maroof), maintained an unbroken line of four Group 1 fillies in four generations.
Petrava spent a number of years in the US, where she produced Jallad (Blushing Groom), a Group 2 winner in South Africa and who would ultimately sire 58 stakes winners.
Petrava’s blood is highly desirable there, so much so that Platinum Lady (Centaine), from Petrava’s half-sister, Precious Platinum (Sir Tristram), also found herself in South Africa. Without reaching Petrava’s heights, she won five times, foaled a Group 3 winner plus an unraced filly named Platinum Princess (Rakeen).
Platinum Princess is golden. She produced four-times Group 1 champion Princess Victoria (Victory Moon) as well as Princess Calla’s dam, Princess Royal (Captain Al), a Group 2 winner in her own right. The family has gone quiet in Australasia, but is arguably one the hottest families in existence in South Africa.