Plans by Gold Coast trainer Toby Edmonds for an Oaks campaign with Smart Missile filly Ahndras firmed up considerably after her gritty win over 1630 metres at Doomben on Saturday.
She settled third behind the pace-setting, last-start winner Don’t Doubt Da Wife (by Snitzel) but came under pressure around the home turn and at the 200-metre mark racecaller Josh Fleming doubted she could win. However, Ahndras had other ideas, picked herself up and finished the race in the style of a genuine Classic contender, scoring by almost a length from Don’t Doubt Da Wife and Up The Tempo, and anchoring the first leg of a treble for the stable.
Ahndras began her career as a late 2YO in Sydney, ran second at Coffs Harbour in December and has now won three races in a month for almost $100,000 prizemoney.
Stable foreman Trent Edmonds said Ahndras would now spend a few days at his father’s Gold Coast hinterland property before a decision was made on a trip to Sydney for the $1 million Australian Oaks G1 on 8 April.
“She’s a big strong filly and we think she will get a middle distance,” Edmonds said.
“We were worried at the 600 metres but she responded like she did when she won a maiden here and just kept coming. The winner got a cheap first 1000 metres and not many get run down over a mile when they can lead out in 64 seconds.”
Ahndras was a $190,000 buy for owner Kevin Pitstock from the Vinery Stud draft at the 2015 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale. She is the third foal of Brothers Dream (by Redoute’s Choice), a half-sister to brilliant sprinter and Group 1 sire Charge Forward.
Across the Tasman, another 3YO by Smart Missile encouraged his owners’ hopes of Classic success. Trained by Mike Breslin, Stephenstihls did his best work late at Woodville over 2100 metres against older horses, finishing fourth, just over a length from the winner. The two-time winner is nominated for the $1 million New Zealand Derby G1 on 4 March.
Smart Missile remains on top of the Australian Second Season Sires’ list with 32 winners and $1.3 million in stakes.
Syndicators and trainers have been active bidders for his yearlings at this week’s Ingis Classic Sale, with Blueblood Thoroughbreds, Darby Racing and Triple Crown Syndications and his own trainer Anthony Cummings each signing for two of his progeny. His top price of $130,000 was paid by Hong Kong buyer Upper Bloodstock for Yarraman Park’s colt out of multiple Group winner Skyerush.