Clearly Innocent is NSW Country Horse of the Year

While Not A Single Doubt was attacking the new season’s stallion premiership with a stunning Group race double at Moonee Valley, his son Clearly Innocent was being honoured for last season’s achievements in Sydney.

The 5YO gelding picked up the Country Horse of the Year Award at the NSW Country & Provincial Racing Awards dinner held at the Sheraton on the Park on Friday evening.

Bred and raced by Bruce Neill’s Cressfield, Clearly Innocent is out of the Zabeel mare No Penalty, a city-winning member of a family nurtured for many years at New Zealand’s Chequers Stud and responsible for Group 1 winners Veloso, Domino, Sale Of Century, Hero & Linky Dink.

Clearly Innocent emerged from the stable of leading country trainer Greg Bennett to win seven of his 10 starts last season. He capped it all with a brilliant win in the Country Championship Final followed by victory in the Scone RC Luskin Star S. LR. That took his earnings past $500,000 and sealed his bush hero status with country racing fans.

Bennett rates Clearly Innocent the best horse he’s trained and is now Melbourne-bound after the gelding’s pipe-opening sixth in The Shorts G2 two weeks ago. The 1400-metre Moonga Stakes G3 at Caulfield on 15 October will be his next start.

Group 1 night for Not A Single Doubt

Not A Single Doubt made his first same-card Group race double really count, when Extreme Choice and Don’t Doubt Mamma won the feature races at Moonee Valley on Friday evening.

He also completed a notable milestone for the Redoute’s Choice dynasty at Moonee Valley.  The champion sire and his sensational sons have now sired the winners of 3 of the Club’s four Group 1 races, with Extreme Choice joining Snitzel’s son Shamus Award (2013 WS Cox Plate) & Redoute’s Choice’s son Lankan Rupee (2014 Manikato Stakes).

3YO colt Extreme Choice simply couldn’t have been more impressive in the $500,000 MVRC AJ Moir S. 1000m G1, defeating a quality field, including last season’s Champion Sprinter Chautauqua, with superior speed.

His jockey Craig Newitt said, “He’s as good a horse as I’ve sat on – the acceleration around that bend was unbelievable. He picked up a high class field and put them away in a couple of strides.”

The placegetters Heatherly and Arrowfield graduate Wild Rain (by Manhattan Rain) were both very game in defeat, and outfinished Chautauqua and Buffering, but the effort told on Heatherly who bled and so cannot race for three months.

Watch Extreme Choice win the MVRC AJ Moir S. G1.

Trainer Mick Price and his racing manager Luke Wilkinson bought Extreme Choice for $100,000 from the Bell River Thoroughbreds draft at the 2015 Inglis Classic Sale.  Bell River’s Andrew Ferguson and his wife Georgie, long-time supporters of Not A Single Doubt, bred Extreme Choice in partnership with good friends Lloyd Walker & Bob Hogno.

The colt is raced by a Newgate Farm-led partnership that includes Aquis Farm, China Horse Club & Matthew Sandblom and has now won $1.6 million and four of his five starts, including the MRC Blue Diamond S. G1. His main target is the $500,000 VRC Coolmore Stud S. G1 in a month’s time, but his next start is likely to be in the $350,000 MRC Blue Sapphire S. G3 on 12 October.

Extreme Choice’s dam Extremely (by Hussonet) is an unraced daughter of Canadian Group winner Going To Extremes, and has left three other winners, including multiple Singapore winner Raise No Doubt (also by Not A Single Doubt).  Extreme Choice is yet another outstanding result of the sustained investment in Australian breeding by the great Japanese breeder Katsumi Yoshida, who sent Going To Extremes 13 years ago to Arrowfield where she left two colts and two fillies, including Extremely.

Extremely, in foal again to Not A Single Doubt, was purchased for $735,000 from Bell River earlier this year by Yulong Investments at the Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale. She also has a yearling colt by Smart Missile.

4YO mare Don’t Doubt Mamma was at her brilliant best defeating Kaniana and Miss Rose de Lago in the $200,000 MVRC WH Stocks S. G2, her first success at 1600 metres.

Trainer Tony McEvoy confirmed that Don’t Doubt Mamma would now go for the $500,000 VRC Myer Classic G1, also over 1600 metres, on 29 October.

“The Myer’s her race. It’s a big Group 1, against the mares, and she probably won’t run before it.”

Five of her seven wins have been at Group or Listed level, and her earnings now exceed $600,000.

Watch Don’t Doubt Mamma win the MVRC WH Stocks S. G2.

The daughter of Coconut Mamma (by Fantastic Light) was bred by Dean Fleming and purchased privately as a yearling by Blue Sky Bloodstock for Katelanis, his son Jordan, Peter Hunt, Andrew Lathlean, Darren Thomas & Seymour Bloodstock.

Coconut Mamma’s only other Australian-based daughter, Miss St Tropez (by Magnus), was purchased in 2011 by Blue Sky for Arrowfield. She has a yearling filly by All American and visits Not A Single Doubt this Spring.

Redoute’s Choice, Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt have compiled 13 Australian Group & Listed wins in the first two months of the 2016/17 season. Unofficial figures indicate that after Friday evening Not A Single Doubt is breathing down Snitzel’s neck at the top of the General Sires’ premiership. 

Stars emerge from first 2YO stakes races

Among the many pleasures of Spring racing, the prospect of watching each new crop begin to unfurl its talent has to rank highly.

In Sydney the season’s first 2YO stakes races, coming up at Randwick this Saturday, are a particular focus of anticipation.  The Listed status of the Breeders’ Plate (colts & geldings) and the Gimcrack Stakes (fillies), both first held in 1906, belies their considerable value as a guide to the best horses in each cohort.

The 72 winners and placegetters in the past 12 runnings of the two races include 42 horses that subsequently won at Listed level or better, with 32 (44.4%) of them succeeding in Group races.

Of these, 11 turned out to be Group 1 winners: the colts Capitalist, Charge Forward, Onemorenomore, Pierro, Prized Icon, Sebring, Vancouver (all at or heading to stud), the geldings Dance Hero & Mentality, and the fillies Guelph and Speak Fondly.

The better Group 1 record of the boys’ team extends to the overall figures: 25 vs 17 subsequent Listed winners or better and 19 vs 13 Group winners – despite the fact that none of the colts have raced beyond their 3YO seasons.

A colt’s prospective stallion career may account for the difference. Owners and trainers have an extra incentive to aim their best colts at the Breeders’ Plate because a win undoubtedly enhances a colt’s value and future appeal to breeders. The 2010 winner Smart Missile, who progressed to Group 2 success and a close second in the Golden Rose G1, is a good example. He proved instantly popular at stud and has been fully booked for his first five seasons. 

The early season 2YO  programme also has an impact. After the Gimcrack, there are only two more stakes races restricted to fillies before Christmas, neither of them in Sydney: the Ottawa Stakes G3 at Flemington on Cup Day, and the Calaway Gal S. LR at Doomben on 17 December.

The Sydney 2YO fillies-only stakes racing resumes with the Widden Stakes G3 in late January, followed by three Group 2 races (the Sweet Embrace, Reisling & Magic Night Stakes) leading into the Golden Slipper, and the $500,000 Percy Sykes S. G3  at The Championships in early April. Hence, the crop’s best 2YO fillies may not debut until November, December or January – English, Earthquake, Mossfun & Snitzerland are recent examples.

It’s worth taking note of the unplaced runners in the Gimcrack and Breeders’ Plate, too. Wandjina (7th in 2013), Dear Demi (4th in 2011) & Rena’s Lady (13th in 2005) all went on to Group 1 Classic success at three.

This year the Arrowfield roster has just one runner, the Mill Park-bred-and-sold sister to stakeswinner Modern Wonder in Grasslands (Snitzel-Elusive Wonder) for the Gimcrack, and five in the Breeders’ Plate, all but one of them Arrowfield sale graduates:

Bowerman (Snitzel-Sabanci by Encosta De Lago)
Bred by Arrowfield; Sold $525,000 Magic Millions to China Horse Club; trained by Michael Freedman for China Horse Club & Winstar. Sabanci, a half-sister to G1 winner Green Birdie from the family of Casino Prince and Onemorenomore, visits Snitzel again this season.

Condor Heroes (Not A Single Doubt-Gosetgo by More Than Ready)
Bred by Robrick Lodge & sold by Riversdale, $190,000 Magic Millions to Sun Bloodstock; trained by Gerald Ryan for Sun Bloodstock. Gosetgo is due to foal to Not A Single Doubt this Spring.

Invader (Snitzel-Flame of Sydney by Encosta De Lago)
Bred by Michael Pitt & sold by Arrowfield, $475,000 Magic Millions to China Horse Club; trained by Gerald Ryan for China Horse Club & partners. Flame of Sydney, dam of the classy Hong Kong sprinter Not Listenin’tome, has a yearling filly by Snitzel and is foaling to him again this season.

Misty Lad (Redoute’s Choice-Anadan by Anabaa)
Bred by Arrowfield & Planette Thoroughbred & sold by Arrowfield, $150,000 Inglis Premier to Mount Hallowell Stud; trained by Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott for Mount Hallowell & David Walpole. 
Anadan has a yearling filly by Snitzel & foaled a filly by Not A Single Doubt on 26 September; this year she visits Panzer Division.

Showtime (Snitzel-Flidais by Timber Country)
Bred & sold by Arrowfield, $1.1 million Magic Millions to Dean Hawthorne Bloodstock; trained by Team Hawkes for Arrowfield, Katsumi Yoshida, Alan Jones, Jonathan Munz, Eric Koundouris, John Moore & Greg Ingham.
Flidais has a yearling full brother to Showtime and his Group 1-winning sister Sweet Idea, recently foaled a Snitzel filly and is again booked to Snitzel.

French debut double for Redoute's Choice 2YOs

The day after his daughter Gold Luck won on debut at Maisons-Laffitte, Redoute’s Choice posted a double at Bordeaux, courtesy of the filly Wajnah and the colt Spotify, both having their first starts.

Al Shaqab’s Wajnah claimed the 1600-metre Prix Didier Vezia narrowly but well from Silver Storm and the fast-finishing Maelia (Redoute’s Choice-Mantilla by Gone West).

Bred by her trainer Francois Rohaut & Haras de Saint Pair, Wajnah (ex Benzolina by Second Empire) is a half-sister to Listed winners Baine & Bassamba, from the family of Group 1 winner and leading sire Anabaa. She was purchased by Al Shaqab at last year’s Arqana October Sale for €260,000.

Three races later, Spotify took out the Prix du Four a Chaux, also over 1600 metres, from the Al Shaqab-owned pair Ajjlan and Ekftaa.

Like Gold Luck, the Christophe Ferland-trained Spotify is a Wertheimer home-bred. His stakes-winning dam Gwenseb has already left Group winners Impassable and Attendu, and Listed winner Foreign Tune.

These latest three European 2YO winners for Redoute’s Choice take his crop tally to eight – one more than his first Australian crop produced back in 2003/04.

Gold Luck wins on debut in France

When a great champion’s half-sister by a multiple champion sire makes her debut, expectations are naturally high.

2YO filly Gold Luck proved up to the task of meeting them when she won the Prix Tenebreuse over 1600 metres at Maisons-Laffitte in France on Monday.

Watch Gold Luck win at Maisons-Laffitte (courtesy of Thoroughbred Daily News).

It was a tidy performance by Gold Luck who is trained by Freddy Head for her breeders, Alain & Gerard Wertheimer.

Maxime Guyon settled the filly in third position, where she raced comfortably until asked to to extend in the final stages. She respnded generously to catch Ifiandra in the final 50 metres and score by a head, with Orerry 2.5 lengths back in third.

Head said, “I’m very happy with her. She wasn’t fully tuned-up today and I think she can make plenty of progress from this.

“Next year will be for her and we’ll leave her through the winter now in the hope she turns into a good filly. She handled herself very well and it looked a nice race. The runner-up pushed her hard at the end and overall they looked a nice bunch.”

Gold Luck is the 13th winner out of the remarkable broodmare Born Gold (by Blushing Groom), celebrated as the dam of five Group winners, chief among them Goldikova whose 17 wins included 14 at Group 1 level, notably three Breeders’ Cup Mile victories.

Redoute’s Choice has now notched up six winners from the first of two crops conceived during his stint at HH the Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval. His other successful 2YOs in Europe this season are the colts Celestial Spheres and Colibri, and the fillies Deep Inside, Greshnitsia & Kazaroza.

Meanwhile, as the new season gains pace in Australia, the champion sire and his sons Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt have already compiled 11 stakeswinners and almost $4 million prizemoney. Snitzel heads the current General Sires’ list with Redoute’s Choice 7th and Not A Single Doubt eighth.

Selenia scores in the Scarborough

Redoute’s Choice, Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt have perfected their tag-team act this Spring, with one or other producing at least one stakeswinner every weekend but one since 1 August. 

After Don’t Doubt Mamma at Flemington on 10 September and Secret Agenda at Caulfield on 17 September, Not A Single Doubt needed only a Group winner at Moonee Valley to complete a three-week, three-course sweep of Melbourne Group races.

He had only one runner in the only stakes race on Moonee Valley’s Friday night card on 24 September but that was enough. His 3YO daughter Selenia defied her double-figure odds to nail the $150,000 MVRC Scarborough S. 1200m G3, her second win and second stakes win from seven starts.

Watch Selenia win the MVRC Scarborough S. G3

Selenia was a $30,000 Inglis Easter buy from Middlebrook Valley Lodge by trainer Robbie Griffiths who tweeted after the race, “She’s a ripper. Gee, I love Not A Single Doubt. He’s a star.”

Bred by Jacob Park Thoroughbreds, Selenia is out of Lunar Lady (by Hussonet), an unraced sibling of Group 2 winners Colorado Claire (also by Hussonet) and Moonovermanhattan (by Manhattan Rain).

Colorado Claire is the dam of Not A Single Doubt’s top-priced yearling colt, knocked down for $850,000 to James Harron at the 2016 Inglis Easter Sale. Named Gunnison, he will race from the stable of Peter & Paul Snowden.

Selenia’s second dam is the Arrowfield mare Lunaspur, herself a stakeswinner at two and three. She has a yearling colt from the first crop of six-time Group 1 winner Dundeel and visits him again this season.

Not A Single Doubt, Snitzel and Redoute’s Choice have each cracked the million-dollar mark in Australia since 1 August, and together they’ve compiled 11 stakeswinners in the season’s first eight weeks.

Animal Kingdom filly makes $400,000 at Keeneland

Animal Kingdom, whose first Australian-bred 2YOs run this season, began the US sales season with a $US310,000 filly at Saratoga and has followed up with strong results by his first NH-bred yearlings at the Keeneland September Sale.

His top price in Book 1 was $US400,000, paid for his daughter out of Eltimaas (by Ghostzapper). The filly’s pedigree was given a significant update when her half-brother Drefong won the King’s Bishop G1 on 27 August, and Drefong’s owner, Juddmonte Farm, was the winning bidder.

Also in Book 1, Lot 38 from the Taylor Made consignment, a filly out of multiple stakeswinner and G3-placed Somethinaboutbetty (by Forestry), sold for $US300,000 to Animal Kingdom’s racing owner Team Valor International. 

Since then, the Dubai World Cup champion has added the $US350,000 Queens Carousel colt and the $US210,000 filly out of Blumen (by Dynaformer). With three of the Sale’s six books completed, Animal Kingdom is averaging just over $US118,000 for 31 lots sold.

Animal Kingdom’s first Australian crop averaged $186,000 at the major 2016 sales, with a top price of $310,000 paid by New Zealand owner Roger Blunt for Arrowfield’s stunning filly out of Cat By The Tale at Magic Millions.

After covering three full books at Darley’s Jonabell Farm, Animal Kingdom has been rested from his Australian duties this Spring and returns to Arrowfield in 2017.

The Arrowfield stable includes several Animal Kingdom 2YOs to be trained by David & Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, Team Hawkes, Nigel Blackiston, Grahame Begg,  John Sargent, Marcus Wilson & Paul Messara.

Manhattan Rain's sunny weekend

Good performances were noted on Saturday by four members of Manhattan Rain’s 2012 crop: Sunny Fame in Queensland, Manhattan Blues in Melbourne, Man Of Choice in Sydney and Promise to Reign at Hastings in New Zealand. 

Sunny Fame has taken time to mature, but put it all together at his second start this season to score an emphatic maiden victory over 1200 metres on the Gold Coast. 

Watch Sunny Fame win at the Gold Coast.

It’s been a good month in Sydney for Sunny Fame’s Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn, who has also ventured south to pick up two $60,000 Highway Handicaps with Quatronic and, on Saturday, Hanwritten. 

Sunny Fame, a $52,500 Magic Millions National Sale buy, is a grandson of Caulfield Cup winner Mannerism, out of her Fastnet Rock daughter Point Piper, who foaled a colt by Olympic Glory on 14 September. 

David Hayes noted in his stable preview that Manhattan Blues had drawn an inside barrier in the 1200-metre handicap at Caulfield, so might have a chance to race closer to the pace than in his previous two starts.

That’s how it turned out, but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome Chase The Horizon’s three-kilo advantage, so Manhattan Blues (ex Belle Feline by Tale Of The Cat) had to settle for a well-fought second. He’s raced every month since March for two wins and three placings and, if the spelling paddock doesn’t beckon, another win soon would not surprise.

Over in New Zealand, at the premier Hawke’s Bay meeting, Arrowfield graduate Promise To Reign made her season debut over 1400 metres. Twice Group-placed and fifth in the New Zealand Oaks G1 last season, she predictably did her best work late to finish a pleasing fourth, less than three lengths from the winner.

The VRC Matriarch S. G2 over 2000 metres on 5 November is one option being considered for her this campaign.

Promise To Reign was a $270,000 Inglis Easter purchase by John Foote for Brendan & Jo Lindsay and is trained by Moira & Kieran Murdoch. Her dam Certain Promise (by El Prado) has a 3YO colt and a yearling filly by Smart Missile, a 2YO filly by Animal Kingdom and is due to foal to Olympic Glory this Spring.

Arguably the best of the four runs was that of Man Of Choice (ex Moonsong by Redoute’s Choice), who made light of his 61.5 kg topweight to fly home for third over 1200 metres behind Denpurr and Torpenhow, after being badly held up until the last 100 metres.

Watch Man of Choice (Green, White Crossed Sashes) finish 3rd at Randwick
.

Like Promise To Reign, Man Of Choice was making his season debut after excellent Group placings last term, including a third in Vanbrugh’s ATC Spring Champion S. G1. His progress for trainer Luke Price will be worth following, especially as he tackles longer distances.

This quartet will soon be joined by promising New Zealand-based 3YO Manhattan Street set to travel to Melbourne on Wednesday for a tilt at the $200,000 MVRC Stutt S. 1600m G2 on 30 September. A Listed winner at the end of his 2YO season, Manhattan Street was a close second in the Wanganui Guineas LR earlier this month, and is nominated for October’s Caulfield Guineas G1.

The Teeley Assets-bred colt is, like Man Of Choice, out of a Redoute’s Choice mare – in his case, Charming Estelle, a full sister to Australian Horse of the Year Lankan Rupee.

Manhattan Rain has already recorded his first stakeswinner this season, the classy sprinting mare Wild Rain, winner of the MVRC Ian McEwen S. G2 earlier this month.

Not A Single Doubt colt stars at 2YO Trials

The Official 2YO Trials attract what might be Randwick’s most high-powered crowd of the season, as studs, breeders, agents & media join owners & trainers to watch the first of each year’s babies run.

They come to check the progress of horses that in many cases represent substantial investments in genetics, environment, selection and horsemanship, and ardent hopes for a favourable turn of fortune’s wheel.

At the end of this year’s program of 12 trials, all held over 850 metres on Monday on a Soft7 track, Redoute’s Choice, Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt claimed four winners and six placegetters from 14 runners.

Watch all 12 Randwick 2YO trials.

There’s always a 2YO who stands out with the fastest time or the biggest winning margin and this year both prizes went to the Not A Single Doubt colt Condor Heroes who blitzed his rivals in Trial 11 by more than 9 lengths in 50.52.

The third foal of the Sydney 2YO winner Gosetgo (by More Than Ready), he was a $190,000 buy for Sun Bloodstock from the Riversdale draft at Magic Millions and is prepared by Gerald Ryan. The Not A Single Doubt/More Than Ready cross has produced juvenile brilliance before, in the distinctive form of Blue Diamond G1 winner Miracles Of Life, as well as Adelaide Group 3 winner The Grey Flash.
 
The remaining winners included a trio of Arrowfield-bred-and-sold colts, Bowerman, Misty Lad & Invader.

Bowerman (Snitzel-Sabanci by Encosta de Lago) turned in a very professional effort to win the opening trial on the program, bouncing out to take up the lead, roll along comfortably in front and win by almost a length from Thy Kingdom Come & Sulaymanee in 51.84 seconds.

Bowerman is trained by Michael Freedman for the China Horse Club & Winstar Farm partnership which paid $525,000 for him at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale. From the family of Group 1 winners Casino Prince, Onemorenomore & Green Birdie, Bowerman is the first foal of his dam who has a yearling colt by Snitzel and was served again by him earlier this month.

Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott produced the winner of Trial 3, Misty Lad (Redoute’s Choice-Anadan by Anabaa), who also took up the lead and travelled easily throughout to win by almost a length in 51.38.

The grandson of Group 1 winner Demerger was a $150,000 buy for owner Mount Hallowell Stud, co-trainer Gai Waterhouse and agent Julian Blaxland at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale.

Anadan’s subsequent matings pursue the Redoute’s Choice theme: she has a yearling filly by Snitzel, is foaling to Not A Single Doubt this Spring and visits Panzer Division.

Trial 10 belonged to a pair of Snitzel colts with Invader (ex Flame of Sydney by Encosta de Lago) just edging just the $1.6 million Magic Millions sale-topper Chauffeur (ex Mirror Mirror by Dehere) in 51.21.

Invader was a $475,000 Magic Millions purchase by the China Horse Club and is trained by Peter & Paul Snowden; Chauffeur was bought by Gerald Ryan and lead owner Damion Flower of Jadeskye Racing. Flame of Sydney has a yearling filly and a foal-to-come by Snitzel.

It’s fascinating to review the past six years’ results which show the trials consistently unveil some of each crop’s very best performers at two, and beyond.

For instance, the last two Golden Slipper winners, Capitalist and Vancouver both won at the Randwick trials, and Pierro was second in 2011.

Sensational 2YO and now leading young sire Smart Missile posted the second-fastest time of the day when winning his trial by 3.5 lengths in 2010.

Australian Guineas G1 winner Wandjina and recent Group winner Sooboog – both million-dollar Snitzel colts bred & sold by Arrowfield – won their respective trials in 2013 and 2014.

Other subsequent Group winners to win their Randwick trials in recent years are Calliope & Defcon (2015), Alpha Miss & Ghibellines (2013), Havana, Va Pensiero & War (2012) and Wild and Proud (2010).

However, owners and trainers of those 2YOs who didn’t win their trials this year can also take encouragement from history. That’s because there are always star performers that don’t win or even place in their first trials.

Champagne S. G1 winner Prized Icon was 7th at his trial debut last Spring; amazon queen Sweet Idea (by Snitzel) was third to subsequent Champion 3YO Filly Guelph and Gimcrack S. LR winner Brilliant Bisc in 2012; and, like Pierro, VRC Oaks G1 winner Dear Demi was a trial runner-up in 2012.

Trial 8 in 2013 produced Not A Single Doubt’s Provincial Championship winner Sure And Fast (2nd), $1.9 million earner Unencumbered (6th) and Snitzel’s dual Group 2 winner Time For War (7th).  Fourth placegetter in Trial 12 the same year was dual Group 3 winner Scissor Kick (by Redoute’s Choice), now serving his first book of mares at Arrowfield. 

In 2010 trial placegetters included subsequent Group 2 winners Elite Falls & Hallowell Belle (by Starcraft), while Flying Spur’s daughter Satin Shoes (Silver Slipper S. G2) and multiple Group 1 winner Helmet were both unplaced.

Placegetters that caught the eye this year include Sweet Idea’s $1.1 million full brother Showtime (Snitzel-Flidais), a close 2nd to Khan in Trial 5, and Red Zephyr (Snitzel-Red Typhoon), who completed a Waterhouse/Bott quinella with Conservation in Trial 9.

Smart Hong Kong debut by Arrowfield graduate

On paper, Race 2 at Sha Tin on Sunday evening was a modest (at least in Hong Kong terms, with prizemoney of $A140,000) Class 4 handicap over 1200 metres.

It attracted special attention because of the debut of this year’s Hong Kong International Sale-topper, the Starcraft-Top Cuban colt bought for $360,000 from Arrowfield’s 2014 Inglis Easter draft by the Hong Jockey Club.

He was then purchased by Liu Yu Wen for $HK8.5 million (~$A1.4 million) at the Hong Kong Sale last March and sent to trainer David Hall. The now 4YO gelding’s excellent lead-up work and two barrier trials ensured considerable interest in his first raceday appearance.

Jing Jing Win could hardly have made it look easier. He jumped out smartly and took up the running, but jockey Zac Purton was happy to let Gainfuljet cross over into the lead, allowing Jing Jing Win to settle comfortably behind him.

Purton slipped the favourite off the fence before the turn, putting him in the perfect position to attack and attack he did, just before the 300-metre mark, powering away to win by 4 lengths in 1:09.51. Three-time Hong Kong winner Winning Boy was second and Gainfuljet was third.

Watch Jing Jing Win score on debut at Sha Tin.

While acknowledging Jing Jing Win’s evident ability, David Hall did not overplay the performance. “He’s got a bit of talent, he’s done the job nicely first time and now he’s got to build on it.”

For Paul Favretto, who bred Jing Jing Win with Paul Rowe, there is much to look forward to.

He said, “We’re excited to own a mare that can produce such athletic and talented sons and for all involved: Jing Jing Win’s owner, trainer and Arrowfield. 

“We’re looking forward to seeing what he can achieve in Hong Kong, the debut of his Redoute’s Choice half-brother for Shadwell, how her Snitzel colt develops ahead of next year’s sales and her next foal by Redoute’s Choice.”

Messrs Favretto & Rowe are familiar with major Hong Kong success: they’re also co-breeders of Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup G1 winner Contentment (Hussonet-Jemison).

Top Cuban (by Anabaa) has already left Group 3 winner Havana to Starcraft and her $1.5 million Inglis Easter colt by Redoute’s Choice, named Eltizaam, will race for Sheikh Hamdan from the Hayes & Dabernig stable.