Debut winners always turn heads just a little more sharply than horses that win at subsequent starts.
That suggests three recent 3YO winners by Charge Forward (himself a stakeswinner at both his 2YO and 3YO debuts) deserve more than usual attention when they step out in metropolitan company.
First Light Racing and trainers Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra are looking forward to that next step after Face Forward (ex Endearment by Danehill) posted a 1.8 length debut victory at Echuca on Saturday.
“Smart filly – better races ahead for her” was First Light’s tweet after the win by their $105,000 purchase, with Ellerton, Zahra & bloodstock agent Paul Willetts, from the Torryburn Stud draft at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale. The same stable also prepared Charge Forward’s outstanding dual Group 1-winning daughter Response.
Zahra says, “She has a very exciting future. You give yourself every chance to win plenty of races when you’re a tractable filly like she is. She jumps, travels on speed and has a good turn of foot – that’s a great recipe for success.”
Charge Forward’s breeder the late Philip Esplin was always among his staunchest supporters and his family also enjoyed first-up success on Saturday with their homebred filly Slightly Sweet. She stormed home from the back of the field to win by 1.3 lengths on debut at Kembla Grange for Michele, Hamish, Patrick & Elise Esplin, and trainer Jason Coyle.
Slightly Sweet, passed in at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, is out of the Dubai Destination mare Semitone, a half-sister to stakeswinner Stay Tuned, from the family of Tom Rolfe, Chieftain & Alzao. Semitone also has a 2YO filly by Charge Forward bought by Bryce Heys for $130,000 at the 2014 Magic Millions Sale.
Jockey Peter Wells was certainly impressed with Slightly Sweet’s effort. “I think she could take the next step. I know it is hard to say after her first start, but she did do a good job drawing wide and getting out of her ground, then was really strong late.
“She beat the winner by a length and a quarter and they beat the rest by four and a bit. For her to be able to do that on debut from where she was on a shifty sort of track, I think she could be a serious animal.”
However, Hamish Esplin says the filly won’t be rushed. “At the moment we are considering just where to place her next, but likely in town. The temptation is to push her into stakes company, but we are patient people as you have to be, and Jason has always felt she will be better in the Autumn.”
The Gai Waterhouse stable has an exciting 3YO by Charge Forward, the gelding Confederate (ex Expect To Win by Encosta de Lago) who won his first start at Hawkesbury on a heavy track a fortnight ago after two good trial wins.
Gai’s Blog made these comments about that win: “He handled the track and won on pure class whilst giving the impression that he might be better on top of the ground. Since the first day he came in, this boy has shown plenty of tenacity; he has won all his trials, all his jumpouts, most of his track gallops and now his first start. He certainly has a huge will to win and this is a very important trait in any horse.”
Charge Forward’s record already includes seven 3YO stakeswinners, six of them Group winners. It’s a tally set to increase, and soon.