With the omission of Hay List from Sunday’s The Goodwood at Morphettville, smart young filly Crystal Lily is now the clear favourite in the pre-field markets to win her first Group 1 showdown since taking out last year’s Golden Slipper.
The headline event at Morphettville’s Super Sunday in Adelaide, the $350,000 Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) attracted 34 nominations ahead of the release of the 20-starter and four emergency final field.
With hulking sprinter Hay List originally tipped to back up from his All Aged Stakes win by contesting The Goodwood, the first markets had the John McNair-trained champion leading the odds.
However, suitable travel arrangements to fly Hay List to Adelaide could not be arranged forcing McNair to shelve Goodwood plans with his now Brisbane-bound galloper.
Following the news of Hay List being out of The Goodwood, three-year-old Stratum filly Crystal Lily firmed right into the $6 favourite ahead of Mark Kavanagh’s Yallambee Classic winner Shrapnel ($6.50).
The Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra-trained Crystal Lily has not entered the winners’ stall since her three-race streak last autumn that culminated with a victory in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m).
Crystal Lily has raced six times since her Slipper success but has failed to finish better than second.
This season she has had four runs where she has unluckily come up against the freakish equine celebrity Black Caviar every time.
Resuming after a five and a half month spell, Crystal Lily ran a first-up fifth beaten six lengths by Moody’s superstar mare in the Group 1 Coolmore Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 19.
Next start she improved coming within three lengths of the unbeaten Black Caviar when second in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
A fortnight later Crystal Lily produced her best run against the world’s fastest horse trounced by less than two lengths in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
After racing her heart out without success each time, Crystal Lily looked a little tiered last start when eight and a half lengths away seventh to Black Caviar in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 9.
“On face value she was disappointing and initially I was worried she’d given up chasing after trying so hard behind Black Caviar so many times,” Ellerton said of Crystal Lily in the TJ Smith Stakes.
“I was actually relieved to find out she had a bit of a problem.
“She came back after the race with her heart below what it should have been. She hadn’t put in.
“I turned out she came through the run a bit worse for wear and was sore in her right hind quarter.”
Now with a Group 1 on the other side of the nation with no Caviar to be seen, Crystal Lily’s connections are confident she will finally add a second Group 1 win to her record.
“It’s a good feeling to go there thinking the others have to worry about us, instead of us having to worry about Black Caviar and Hay List,” Ellerton said.
“I’m certainly glad neither of them is running on Sunday.”
Crystal Lily’s stablemate Response is also set to line-up in The Goodwood for Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra on Sunday, the four-year-old currently rated a $15 chance.
Charge Forward mare Response earned a ballot exemption into The Goodwood fied with a smart win in the Group 1 Sportingbet Classic (1200m) at Morphettville on March 26.
Last start, however, Response also fell victim to some Black Caviar magic when sixth in the TJ Smith Stakes.
“She settled a fair way back and hit the line strongly,” Zahra said of Response in the TJ Smith.
“It was a super run but it’s hard when you are back last and giving those sort of horses a start.
“She won the Sportingbet Classic in Adelaide the start before and if they go hard she’ll be hitting the line strongly again.”
Both Crystal Lily and Response showed form when winning their respective hitouts at Werribee last Friday to the delight of their trainers, Crystal Lily by an easy three lengths showing she had recovered well from her post-TJ Smith Stakes soreness.
“We’ve done nothing with them since Sydney,” Zahra said.
“That’s why we took them both down to Werribee to give them the day out and we don’t have to do much with them from here on in.
“We’ll give them another nice easy gallop on Wednesday and that will be it.”
Although Response beat home stablemate Crystal Lily by one in the TJ Smith Stakes, it is Crystal Lily that Ellerton and Zahra are tipping for The Goodwood.
“Crystal Lily is a front runner and she lobs along and she can run her last 600 metres in 32 (seconds), whereas Response settles back and has to run 31 to beat her and it’s not easy to do that,” Zahra said.
“The other thing to keep in mind is they are both at the end of their preparations too.
“They’ve both had hard campaigns running against Black Caviar and travelling interstate.”
Ellerton too is pleased with where Crystal Lily is at heading into Sunday’s showdown.
“She’s in really good order,” he said.
“A lot will depend on the weather, but if she turns up in her Newmarket or William Reid form, which I think she can, she’s going to be very hard to beat in the Goodwood.”
Connections have also ruled out a Brisbane Winter Carnival campaign for either of the quality female sprinters regardless of how they run on Sunday.
“They won’t be going to Brisbane so they’ll go out for spells and then we’ll look to the spring,” Zahra said.
Other horses in the market for The Goodwood include 2010 Golden Rose winner Toorak Toff ($7), classy mare Ortensia ($9) and the Peter Snowden-trained Lonhro gelding Pinwheel ($10).
The Goodwood acceptances will be taken Wednesday morning.