Russell Cameron’s lightly-raced filly Lady Of Harrods enjoyed a massive form reversal to score a surprise black-type win in the HDF McNeil Stakes 2012 at Caulfield Racecourse as part of the Memsie Stakes Day action on the weekend.
Having failed in her lead-up run when beating home just one other runner to finish over 14 lengths away 10th to Elite Elle in the Quezette Stakes in the wet on August 18, on Saturday the three-year-old daughter of Dubawi proved she had improvement in her when beating a similar class field in the $150,000 Group 3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m).
Jumping from barrier four of 11 with Michael Walker in the saddle for the first time the speedy Lady Of Harrods ($26) held on in a tight finish to beat home the Gai Waterhouse-trained perennial runner-up Kabayan ($4.60) by a long neck.
Finishing off the winning McNeil Stakes trifecta was then Danny O’Brien’s 2012 Victoria Derby hopeful Shamexpress ($4.60) who was the same length away third, while a further long neck back in fourth was last-start Quezette Stakes winner and race favourite Elite Elle ($2) whose loss was credited to the firmer ground.
“It was the first time he [Mark Zahra] had ridden her and he said something to me after the race that rang true because I ride her in her work, that you can really feel her hit the ground,” Elite Elle’s trainer Tony Vasil said.
“In the end, she got beaten about half a length so it wasn’t a bad run and it was the best field she’d met, but you are left with the feeling she is a superior wet-tracker and that we should keep her on those sorts of tracks.”
Named after the “royal conspiracy” tragedies of Princess Di and the son of Harrods’ famed owner Mohamed al Fayed, winner Lady Of Harrods has now taken out two of her five career starts for $142,200 in prize money – winning back more than her modes $80,000 purchase price at the 2011 William Inglis and Son Sydney Classic Yearling Sales.
The punters and bookies may have got it wrong in the McNeil Stakes but Flemington trainer Cameron said that he and connections knew the filly had a winning chance.
“We gave her a chance today because you just had to forget that run here a fortnight ago as she just couldn’t go on the heavy track,” he said.
“We’ve always had a good opinion of her.
“We had her in the race but she just might be too brilliant for it.”
While there is a big step up through the grades necessary Lady Of Harrods is nominated for the $500,000 Group 1 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) back at Caulfield on Wednesday October 17, Cameron still to be convinced she will get the mile this time in.
“She’ll get seven [furlongs, 1400m] I think, but the mile might be pushing it a bit,” he admitted.
Current Thousand Guineas 2012 betting odds have Lady Of Harrods rated a $41 chance.
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2012 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Caulfield Race 4 – 01/09/2012
|1||12||LADY OF HARRODS||Russell Cameron||Michael Walker||–||4||54kg||$26|
|2||5||KABAYAN||Gai Waterhouse||Luke Nolen||0.2L||5||56kg||$4.60|
|3||7||SHAMEXPRESS (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||Craig Williams||0.4L||6||56kg||$13|
|4||4||ELITE ELLE||Tony Vasil||Mark Zahra||0.6L||9||56kg||$2F|
|5||10||SHEER TALENT||Mark Kavanagh||Glen Boss||1.1L||3||56kg||$61|
|6||8||ABOUT SQUARE (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Luke Currie||1.3L||8||56kg||$26|
|7||9||IF I COULD (NZ)||Mark Kavanagh||Michael Rodd||1.5L||2||56kg||$17|
|8||3||AMORINO||Gerald Ryan||Steven Arnold||2.5L||11||57kg||$8|
|9||1||UNDERESTIMATION||Dean Lawson||Vlad Duric||3.75L||1||58.5kg||$31|
|10||2||CHEYENNE WARRIOR||Anthony Freedman||Daniel Moor||4.15L||10||58kg||$51|
|11||11||FORCE COMMAND||Greg Eurell||Chris Symons||4.25L||7||56kg||$20|
|–||6||PRONTO PRONTO||Jason Warren||James Winks||–||0||–||–|