After missing out on a Caulfield Cup bid two years ago, Adelaide trainer John Hyam is confident his talented mare Stella Lante has what it takes to win over 2150m in Saturday’s Ipswich Cup 2014.
Back in 2012 the daughter of Starcraft ran fifth behind Commanding Jewel in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m), an effort one of Melbourne’s leading jockeys Vlad Duric rated highly.
His suggestion was to target her for the mile and a half of the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
“I remember when Vlad rode her in the Thousand Guineas in Melbourne a couple of years back, she should have run a clear second and he said he wasn’t sure she would be good enough but the Caulfield Cup is where we should be aiming with her,” Hyam told The Advertiser.
“We obviously had problems which stopped those plans but he said she was a 2400m horse no worries at all.”
Instead she ran second to Kazaluk in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Fillies Classic (1600m) before a setback sidelined her for the next four and a half months.
Since then she’s only been stepped up over further than a mile on three occasions, but Hyam’s confidence in her ability to get more distance is still there.
The second most recent of those was two starts back when third to Blue Ribbon in the Listed Centaurea Stakes (2006m) on May 10 at home at Morphettville.
That was a nice improvement on her 10th, albeit still beaten only three lengths, behind Tango’s Daughter in her first Group 2 start in over a year in the Queen Of The South Stakes (1600m) on April 26.
Her latest start saw her travel to Brisbane for a Benchmark 90 over 1800m at Eagle Farm on Queensland Oaks Day, May 31, when Glen Boss rode her for a very disappointing 11th when beaten 19 lengths by Southerly.
She over-raced during that run and while a vet check revealed no abnormalities, Hyam believes there were genuine excuses for her performance.
“She got her tongue between the bit,” he said.
“Bossy (Glen Boss) yelled out to the staff behind the gates to fix the problem and they did, but as soon as they jumped it happened again and he basically had no control the entire race.”
He’s confident then she can atone for that loss with a better run this weekend in the $175,000 Listed Channel 7 Ipswich Cup (2150m) after enjoying another week in the sunshine state.
“She’s actually improved in herself, she’s obviously settled in better in the different environment,” he said.
One of 16 hopefuls in the Ipswich Cup field on Saturday, Stella Lante will be ridden by Ric McMahon for the first time from barrier eight on the 55kg minimum.
McMahon put her through her paces on Tuesday morning and reported back with a smile according to Hyam.
“Rick McMahon, who will ride on Saturday, galloped her this morning and was really impressed,” he said yesterday.
“He said it isn’t strongest race in the world and she should be a top three chance on her gallop today.”
A top three finish would please Hyam, but he’s really hoping she can break her Black Type drought with a breakthrough win in stakes’ company.
“We really want to win a black-type race with her,” Hyam, who posted his 100th winner at home last Saturday with Almighty Bullet, said.
“She’s been placed six times at that level so it would be great for her breeding career when she finishes racing.”
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