First Light charges forward at Flemington

Melbourne-based syndicators Tim Wilson and Sam Kilkenny of First Light Racing celebrated a valuable Flemington victory last Saturday with a large group of very happy owners and trainers Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra.

The horse responsible for the big smiles and a subsequent stream of ecstatic tweets was Charge Forward’s 3YO daughter Face Forward whose fourth win took her prizemoney close to $130,000. Bred and sold by Torryburn Stud, Face Forward, from the Danehill mare Endearment, is a graduate of the 2013 Magic Million Gold Coast Sale.

It’s not the first time the son of Red Ransom has put First Light and their owners in the winner’s circle. In fact, First Light’s very first purchase was a Charge Forward filly from the Arrowfield draft at the 2012 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale. Tim picks up the story.

“Mat and Simon had already tasted Group 1 success with Charge Forward’s daughter, the two-time Group 1 winner Response, so it didn’t take long for us to fall in love with a Charge Forward filly at the Magic Millions that was later named Menage A Charge.

“She was a Session 2 filly, a little backward, but she had the traits we’ve grown to identify in the Charge Forward yearlings and that attracts us to them: she was strong, with a good temperament and a fantastic mover, but above all else she had great size to her hindquarter and she immediately drew physical comparisons with Response as a yearling.

“Within six months Menage A Charge was flying around Flemington and like Response she went on to be a great success story for the stable. Obviously, Response won two Group Ones, sold for $840,000 as a broodmare at the end of her career and then her first foal last year cracked the $1 million barrier back at the Magic Millions, so she’s an incredible story.

“While not on the same scale, Menage A Charge did a wonderful job for our stable becoming our first city-winning two-year-old when she won down the straight at Flemington. She was FLR’s inaugural Racehorse Of The Year winner and she put our syndication company on the map. Until a few weeks ago I personally still rated her the most talented racehorse to wear our colours.

“Even though Face Forward and Not A Single Doubt filly Not A Happy Camper were also very talented city winners for the stable, I didn’t think they shared the sheer brilliance of Menage A Charge. I’ve probably got to reconsider that now Face Forward has won four times, including three city wins from her first seven starts. Her city wins have all been emphatic by good margins and on Saturday while she ‘only’ won by a length, her time of 1:09.77 for a filly carrying 58.5kgs was pretty brilliant.

“Like Menage A Charge, Face Forward wasn’t a big yearling, but she was powerful, moved well and like her Dad, you could see she would be a ball of muscle once she matured. Like Menage A Charge, she won a very early two-year-old trial at home, before we had to show patience with her due to a bit of immaturity in her knees.

“She then won her first two starts as a Spring three-year-old including beating a smart field at Moonee Valley and she’s now returned in the Autumn to win twice again at metropolitan level.

“We paid $105,000 for Face Forward in 2013 and she was our first ever six-figure yearling purchase, but she’s already covered that easily in prizemoney and like recent Charge Forward mares retired to stud (Response, Cavalry Rose, Assail) she’s going to give her owners a nice return when her career concludes. We will consider giving her a crack at stakes grade back at Flemington in a fortnight’s time and if she can get a black type result she’s going to be very valuable.”

First Light’s early success with Charge Forward’s stock has encouraged the team to buy two more yearlings by him, as Tim explains.

“We’ve got a really nice two-year-old filly named Seven Love who’s not far away now and our first colt by him this year. That’s a Charge Forward yearling each year for the last four years, all from Magic Millions, and so far we’re two from two with Menage A Charge and Face Forward both Flemington winners.

“We’d love to see lightning strike a third and fourth time as both Seven Love and our unnamed yearling colt have the same depth of hindquarter, and lovely moving attributes of the two star fillies – so fingers crossed the good times keep coming.

“The Chargies are obviously our favourite breed and I’ve got to admit every time a new catalogue arrives at the office, the first thing we do is check out the progeny by Charge Forward. I guarantee they’ll be the first yearlings we inspect in 2016 and hopefully many more years to come.”

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