Seymour trainer Murray Johnson was over the moon at Moonee Valley Racecourse on Friday night after his progressive filly Take Pride scored in the meeting’s feature winning the Champagne Stakes 2051 against her own kind.
The $150,000 Group 3 Gallagher Bassett / TBV Champagne Stakes (1200m) run under the lights at Moonee Valley as Race 6 and featured a 10-horse line up of three-year-old fillies.
Going out as a $9 hope with star apprentice Patrick Moloney aboard was Johnson’s improving daughter of Blue Diamond winning sire Reward For Effort, Take Pride coming off two nice black-type runs this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival in top company.
Two back she was fifth past the post to the undefeated Petits Filous in the Group 3 Quezette Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield in mid-August before a third to the same classy filly in the Listed Cap D’Antibes Stakes (1100m) down the Flemington straight on September 12.
Last night was her first look at the tight Moonee Valley circuit and at start number eight was also her maiden run over the 1200m.
She handled both the track and distance without a worry however and was far too good for her rivals including the short-priced $2.25 favourite Secret Agenda who she beat home by an easy three lengths in an impressive all-the-way effort.
Finishing off the winning Champagne Stakes trifecta a further two and a quarter lengths away in third was then the Michael Moroney-trained Serenade ($9).
Johnson celebrated his biggest win as a trainer to date with the Champagne Stakes result and as well as being supremely proud of the winning filly, he was also full of credit for the smart ride by Moloney who allowed Take Pride to really take off 600m from home.
“It’s very, very special,” an emotional Johnson said post-win.
“This is particularly special being at Moonee Valley – my mother was raised on the corner of the property and my grandfather ran the place.
“As a five-year-old I used to walk down the stretch putting in the divots.”
It was only Moloney’s second Group race winning ride, the leading young gun having also saluted in the Group 2 Alister Clarke Stakes (2040m) at the Valley aboard Chill Party, and he was tipping the Champagne Stakes winner for an exciting campaign and future career.
“That’s my second (Group race) and second at the Valley… it’s a really big thrill – I love this track,” he said.
“She was too slick and too smart for them.
“Exciting times ahead.”
The Champagne Stakes win could see Take Pride continue onto bigger things this spring including possibly the $500,000 Group 1 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) over the Caulfield mile on October 10.
“She’s very fast, she’s shown it before and third start back – she’s on top of her game,” he said.
“We’ll just enjoy it – there are lots of options, lots of spots for her.”
She is still officially among the 2015 Thousand Guineas entries for next month’s Caulfield Guineas Day support act but is only rated a $41 chance through Ladbrokes.com.au in the all-in markets.
Futures Thousand Guineas betting is led by Atlantic Jewel Stakes winner Stay With Me ($4.20) and Peter Moody’s Group 1 winner Pasadena Girl ($5) who face off on Underwood Stakes Day in the Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m).
The Prelude produced last year’s Thousand Guineas winner Amicus (2014) when the Chris Waller-trained filly improved on her second to take out the Group 1.
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2015 Champagne Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Moonee Valley Race 6 – 25/09/2015
|1||4||TAKE PRIDE||Murray Johnson||Patrick Moloney (a)||–||2||56kg||$9|
|2||7||SECRET AGENDA||Mick Price||Damien Oliver||3L||5||56kg||$2.25F|
|3||2||SERENADE||Michael Moroney||Glen Boss||5.25L||8||56kg||$9|
|4||9||HELL OR HIGHWATER||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Damian Lane||7L||3||56kg||$15|
|5||11||OCEAN EMBERS||Shea Eden||James Winks||8.25L||6||56kg||$16|
|6||6||VIDDORA||Lloyd Kennewell||Mark Zahra||8.45L||7||56kg||$4.60|
|7||10||NINA RULES||Jason Warren||Jake Noonan||9.2L||1||56kg||$101|
|8||1||REEMAH||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||9.95L||9||56kg||$9.50|
|9||3||ANTELUCAN||John O’Shea||Dwayne Dunn||10.15L||10||56kg||$21|
|10||12||MAKE HER OWN WHEY||Shaun Dwyer||Ms Jackie Beriman (a)||11.4L||4||56kg||$101|
|–||8||SERENE MAJESTY||Peter & Paul Snowden||–||–||0||–||–|
|–||5||PAINTED FIRETAIL||John O’Shea||James McDonald||–||0||–||–|