The Chris Waller trained Espiona claimed her fifth black type victory in uncompromising fashion winning the $400,000, Group 2 Racing & Sports Golden Pendant (1400m) under Nash Rawiller at Rosehill on Saturday.
The five-year-old Extreme Choice mare won the Group 1 Coolmore over 1500m on the same track in March and resumed with a second in the Group 2 Sheraco Stakes over 1200m on September 9th. Stepping out to 1400m on Saturday the mare was right into her groove with Rawiller stalking the leaders into the main straight and taking charge of proceedings shortly after.
Espiona hung to the left for Rawiller as he moved to clear racing room in the middle of the track, but once he straightened her she quickly showed her class and turn of foot from the 200m that recorded a clear margin of 2 1/2L at the line.
It was a stable quinella with Atishu (NZ) (Savabeel) and Joao Moreira second and Banana Queen (So You Think) and Kerrin McEvoy third, the margin 1 1/4L.
The win was franked with a new class record time of 1.22.35 beating Mizzy’s 1.22.58 in 2021. The final 600m on the Good 4 was covered in 33.45. Espiona paid $2.30 on fixed odds and the tote as favourite.
Espiona and Nash Rawiller, picture Sportpix.com.au
“She gets her head to the side, I am not really that sure why she does it. In Melbourne it is not as noticeable, but it is here. When she got clear of the horses, the last 100m, she went straight. She is obviously saying something to her rivals as if to say ‘C’mon, you ready to go?,” said Waller.
“It was a good run first-up and it was a terrific run today."
With a major topic of the day being the withdrawal of last year's winner Giga Kick from the $20m, TAB Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 14th it was inevitable that Waller was asked about the possibility of Espiona taking his stable slot.
“If we cannot find a better one she will be there. The horse that beat her last start has got a slot (Sunshine In Paris). I guess we have got to work out where she fits in, we will not say no. Someone might grab her before our slot, who knows,” he said.
“For Denise (Martin) and Star Thoroughbreds I hope they do get a slot, it would be fantastic. It is such an amazing race and they will run with speed on so she has got the right set-up, just got to be good enough to win. We will wait and see.”
Rawiller was asked about the mare wanting to hang.
“We don’t really care, as long as she lets down like that when you ask her. She is just a very talented mare,” he said.
“She looks at the stands, at the winning post. It is like she is looking for her mother up in the stands, but what a motor she’s got.
“The way the race looked it was going to be really ugly for her I thought. It is just amazing that after two strides there was speed to keep her happy, and me. She has loomed up there and got to show what she can do.
“There was a nice genuine tempo, which really helped her. I did not want it to be a stop start race,” he said.
Espiona, out of the O’Reilly mare Dahooil, has now the excellent record of six wins from 15 starts and with three placings, all black type, she has earned stakes of $1,108,215 for her Star Thoroguhbreds syndicated owners Mr L J Mugavin, McLeish Family Racing, Felgate Holdings, Mrs A M Hickey, Boeara Holdings, Paramount Racing, Mr M I Ive, Mrs R A Ive, Macedon Park Pty Ltd, Mrs D M Handley and CGO Racing.
Golden Pendant, photo finish picture ATC
What the beaten jockeys said:
Joao Moreira (Atishu): “She ran great. Just beaten by a better horse on the day.”
Ryan Moore (Zougotcha): No comment
Chad Schofield (Sheeza Belter): “She raced a bit fresh and didn’t let down.”
Kerrin McEvoy (Banana Queen): “Nice run. She backed up well. We weren’t able to get the cover that she enjoys but she put forward a nice run.’
Tyler Schiller (More Secrets): “She was terrific. Made up a lot of ground late. Probably got a little bit out of her ground.”
Jason Collett (So Dazzling): “She worked home OK but found that track a bit firm.”
Rachel King (Diamond Dealer): “Really brave effort again. She is running very consistently.”