John O’Shea’s impressive mare White Sage kept her flawless career record intact at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday winning her fifth from as many starts in the Festival Stakes 2013.
The four-year-old Reset grey made an immediate impact in their debut back in May with a big seven length effort at Kembla Grange and hasn’t put a hoof wrong since.
Their second start was in the big city with a five length win over 1300m at Randwick during winter before a five month break to mature.
She returned at Rosehill in early November and has won three from three at the track this season thanks to her weekend triumph.
Jumping the $3 favourite in this year’s $100,000 Listed Blackwoods Stanley Dewalt Festival Stakes (1500m) White Sage was ridden by former Kiwi hoop James McDonald for the first time.
Incredibly McDonald is the fifth jockey to ride the up-and-comer in as many runs.
White Sage’s ability to adapt to a new hoop each run however was also matched on Saturday by her ability to step up in distance as she saw the 1500m for the first time.
Displaying genuine mile potential she overcame the far outside barrier 14 of 14 and was able to put a tidy two lengths on the Joe Pride-trained runner-up Terravista ($5) who had won their three lead-up runs this spring.
Third place went to the 58.5kg second top weight Alma’s Fury ($19) who did well to lump the big weight to finish just under four lengths off the winner.
It was a brave effort and one that proved she has the makings of a possible Group horse as she moved across from her carpark draw to lead all the way, never looking like getting beaten.
O’Shea was quick to credit the winning ride of McDonald, and not just the promise of his winning mare.
“I left it to James as to what to do from out there. He’s the best,” O’Shea said post-win on Saturday according to AAP.
“When she came out like that I knew she would be hard to beat.
“She was on the toe today and I thought she might jump and fly.
“She was very impressive and it’s very rewarding.”
Now she’s broken her black type maiden White Sage is likely to continue to be stepped up in class with O’Shea keen to see exactly how much she’s got in the tank next autumn after a well-earned break.
“She’s a stakes winner now so she will be able to get into the better races,” he said.
“The Coolmore Classic is the race she will be set for.
“We will give her a short break but there’s not much time to start getting her ready for her next campaign.
“We don’t do a lot with her anyway. She just brings it to the races.”
The $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) runs on Ranvet Stakes Day at Rosehill on March 22 during the coveted Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
McDonald was confident after the winning ride that White Sage would match it with the best during the autumn and could win herself a Group 1 trophy next prep.
“She just keeps improving and her heart’s as big as herself,” he said.
“She tries and I think that’s going to take her a long way. That’s five from five, it’s not easy to do. It won’t be her last that’s for sure.”
As for the Festival Stakes runner-up Terravista, the Captain Rio four-year-old will also be sent for a spell now with an eye on bigger autumn targets with Pride far from discouraged by their loss.
“It’s rare to see a horse do what he’s done during a preparation,” he said.
“We just happened to run into another one doing the same thing. I’m happy with how he went.”
Pride is hoping the gelding can develop into a genuine contender for the $3 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 19.
The full Festival Stakes 2013 results can be found below.
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2013 Festival Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Rosehill Race 6 – 30/11/2013
|1||14||WHITE SAGE||John O’Shea||James McDonald||–||14||54kg||$3F|
|2||15||TERRAVISTA||Joseph Pride||Glyn Schofield||2L||1||54kg||$5|
|3||2||ALMA’S FURY||Paul Murray||Tim Clark||3.8L||2||58.5kg||$19|
|4||3||SHE’S CLEAN||Chris Waller||Jason Collett||4L||11||57.5kg||$14|
|5||6||SAID COM (NZ)||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||4.1L||4||56.5kg||$12|
|6||13||LIMES||Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||4.3L||13||54kg||$16|
|7||4||DESTINY’S KISS||Joseph Pride||Christian Reith||4.9L||8||56.5kg||$31|
|8||5||MONTON||Ron Quinton||Sam Clipperton (a)||5.2L||12||56.5kg||$31|
|9||9||STRIKE THE STARS (NZ)||Anthony Cummings||Blake Shinn||5.3L||6||56kg||$9|
|10||1||MALAVIO||Steve Englebrecht||Peter Robl||5.7L||9||59kg||$13|
|11||11||NINTH LEGION||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Tommy Berry||6L||3||55kg||$11|
|12||7||ALL LEGAL||Kevin Moses||Brenton Avdulla||8.3L||10||56kg||$101|
|13||12||COURT CONNECTION||Danny Williams||Nathan Berry||8.4L||5||54kg||$151|
|14||8||MERLIN MUSTANG||Michael Tubman||Jay Ford||12.1L||7||56kg||$31|
|–||17||REFLECTANCE||John P Thompson||–||–||0||–||–|
|–||10||TROMSO||Chris Waller||Joshua Parr||–||0||–||–|
|–||16||FEDDE||Grahame Begg||Tim Clark||–||0||–||–|