Melbourne & Hong Kong success for Starcraft pair

Group 1 sire Starcraft had a pair of notable winners last weekend, Stella Lante at Moonee Valley on Friday evening, and Hey Cheers in Hong Kong on Sunday.

Stella Lante’s ability was obvious two seasons ago, when she won her 2YO debut in Adelaide, and placed at her next two juvenile starts, in South Australian Listed and Group 3 company. However, it’s been a long road back to the winner’s circle, though peppered with good city and stakes performances.

She returned as a September 3YO, placing again in Adelaide, then running second at Moonee Valley before a sterling fifth in the 1600-metre MRC Thousand Guineas G1 behind a top-drawer group of fillies: Commanding Jewel, Dear Demi, Zydeco & Longport. Nine days later Stella Lante split Kazanluk and Moreau in the Moonee Valley Fillies Classic G2, also at 1600 metres.

That was the best of her 3YO work, and she has repeated that burst of spring form this season, with three placings in Adelaide ahead of last week’s trip to Melbourne where she lined up again over the metric mile. Stella Lante began well and settled fourth until before the turn when Vlad Duric took her off the fence and found the space she needed to go forward. And forward she went, scoring by a half-length from Princess Rock, and giving her delighted trainer John Hyam his first Melbourne success.  

Bred by Tori Park Stud, Stella Lante is the best of four winners produced so far by Villa Lante (Filante), although surely not the last, if her full brother born at Cornerstone Stud lives up to his looks.

On Sunday evening at Sha Tin, Zac Purton steered Hey Cheers from the back of the field to an impressive victory over 1600 metres at his first start after transferring to the stable of trainer Chris So Wai-yin.

Bred by Sean Buckley’s Baree Stud from the Rory’s Jester mare Carina (a descendant of the fine New Zealand racemare Rosie’s Girl), Hey Cheers was a $70,000 purchase from the 2010 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale and was sent to Hong Kong in August 2012.  

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