Starcraft ‘s 3YO son Star Witness (Leone Chiara by Lion Hunter) lit up an overcast Derby Day at Flemington yesterday with a dazzling sprint down the famous straight 1200-metre course to win the $500,000 Coolmore Stud-sponsored VRC Ascot Vale S. G1.
The handsome colt settled easily behind the early leader Solar Charged and took control 300 metres from home, then quickly put three lengths on the field with challenges coming from Buffering, Curtana and Arrowfield part-owned Shrapnel (by Charge Forward ).
Pictured above: Star Witness wins the VRC Ascot Vale S. G1, with Shrapnel carrying Arrowfield’s yellow and black colours.
Their best efforts could not catch Star Witness, who won by two lengths from Curtana, with Shrapnel running on well for third, three-quarters of a length away. Star Witness’ time was 1.09.97, the last 600 metres in 34.57, on a track retrospectively rated Dead4.
He is the third Arrowfield-sired winner of the Ascot Vale Stakes in the past four years, after Weekend Hussler (by Hussonet ) in 2007, and Headway (by Charge Forward) last year.
Last season’s co-Champion 2YO Colt with a rating of 112 on the ANZ Classifications, Star Witness has now won four of his seven starts, including the MRC Blue Diamond S. G1 & VRC Talindert S. LR at two, giving his owners a return of $1,020,700 on the $150,000 trainer Danny O’Brien paid for him at the 2009 Magic Millions Premier Sale.
O’Brien confirmed after the race that Star Witness would proceed to next Saturday’s VRC Patinack Farm Classic 1200m G1 where he will meet the outstanding sprinters 5YO Hay List and 4YO Black Caviar. Given the colt’s liking for the staight course, a 2011 Royal Ascot campaign is a distinct possibility.
Star Witness is the work of renowned Queensland breeder Ken Turner who operates under the Almavale Bloodstock banner, and also bred his dam, G3 winner Leone Chiara and her siblings, the 2005 Ascot Vale Stakes winner Ferocity & multiple Group winner Chinchilla Rose, all by Lion Hunter from the Last Tycoon mare Chiara.
Star Witness was not the only impressive winner by Starcraft yesterday. 3YO filly Simply Brilliant (Starcraft-She’s a Pretender by Danehill) defeated older horses by 5.5 lengths over 1600 metres at Awapuni in New Zealand, only ten days after breaking her maiden at Te Aroha.
Like her stakes-winning stablemate We Can Say it Now, she is prepared by Victoria Derby-winning trainers Murray & Bjorn Baker and owned by her breeders Paul and Lyndall Makin, who raced Starcraft to Group One success in four countries. The two fillies now travel to Christchurch where Simply Brilliant will tackle the CJC NZ 1000 Guineas G1 on 13 November, and We Can Say it Now will line up in the 2000 Guineas G1. A third New Zealand-based Starcraft filly, stakeswinner Singapore Sling, is also Guineas-bound.
Starcraft is the sire of three stakeswinners from his first Australian crop, as well as stakes-placed performers Mr Spock, Ace Acosta and 2YO filly Hallowell Belle. He is now third on the Australian 2nd Season Sires’ list.