Cellsabeel stamps herself as serious Slipper contender

The Maher and Eustace trained Hinchinbrook two-year-old filly Cellsabeel stamped herself as a serious Golden Slipper contender after demolishing the field in the $125,000, Iron Jack Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday.

Cellsabeel did not just win under Tommy Berry, she did so by 6L, looking stronger with every stride to the line.  The Heavy 8 track conditions were no obstacle to her, a welcome outcome to the stable with the Slipper on March 28th at the same course often run on rain impacted tracks, and co-trainer Ciaron Maher said that the main aim now is to ensure that Cellsabeel has sufficient stakes to make the field.

Cellsabeel and Tommy Berry leave the rest behind, picture

Cellsabeel was fourth in the $1 million Golden Gift over 1100m at Rosehill on November 9th, earning $44,000. However, the winner of the Gift, Dame Giselle, earned a stake of $581,000 ensuring an immediate place in the Slipper without having to run through the traditional path of upcoming black type races.

After Saturday’s win Cellsabeel has stake earnings of $124,500, which will be still short of guaranteeing a place in the field, a situation that will require a look at the impact of the unprecedented prizemoney on offer through the November juvenile race.

Back to Saturday’s racing with Cellsabeel showing serious galloping ability as she essentially came with the smooth run from second last down the back straight to be leading at the 300m.

Return With Honour and Glyn Schofield won a fierce tussle for the lead, which Berry and Cellsabeel did not participate in, and led the field to the top straight where Schofield tried to steady the pace. Berry sent Cellsabeel on a path close to the inside rails reaching the leaders after easing out to be three wide as they cornered for the main straight.

The filly was in charge at the 300m and the rest of the field folded behind unable to keep up with her progress down the centre of the track. Berry urged her forward to keep her mind on the job which became simply how much would she win by.

The Godolphin pair of In Flanders (Exceed And Exce) and Jason Collett and Beyliks (Lonhro) and James McDonald were second and third respectively, the margin a half-neck, with Desert Flame fourth. Return To Honour floundered on the track to finish seventh.

The time was 1.06.50 with the final 600m in 36.09. Cellsabeel’s final 600m time of 35.31 was just under a full second quicker than In Flanders at 36.21. Cellsabeel was well supported from opening with TAB at $4.40 and being backed into favouritism at $2.10 on fixed odds and $2.00 on the tote.

To the line, picture

Berry said that Cellsabeel ‘might be’ the best two-year-old that he has ridden.

“I gave her a click before the corner just to stay on the back of them and she ended up pulling me right through them and I got there way too early,” said Berry.

“The best part about was that she beat them by a margin and she was floating the last furlong (200m).  She still does not know how to put a race away yet, I that sounds silly as she won by as far as she did, but it just shows how good she is,” he said.

Berry explained that it was it was his idea to place blinkers on the filly as he wanted to ensure she was totally focused on the race to ensure she won it to collect the essential prizemoney.

“She is very good I think, she put the writing on the wall here at her first start with a wide draw. She got back and Robbie (Dolan) put her through her gears really well. Her sectionals were great on a day when they were not really making a lot of ground,” said Maher.

“She is on route to the Slipper and she looked to do that pretty easily.

“She had always been a really high quality horse and she had the shades on today just to give her that little bit of focus and it was the trick she needed.

“The idea is the Slipper so if she has enough money will depend on if she goes to that race (Millennium bonus race),” he said.

Cellsabeel opened Saturday at $26.00 with TAB for the Group 1 Slipper sprint. She firmed into $9.00 and is now the $8.00 favourite with Dame Giselle on the second line at $11.00.

The filly, out of the Group 1 winning Desert Sun mare Our Egyptian Raine, races in the yellow and dark blue vee silks of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.

Iron Jack Handicap, photo finish picture ATC