The airborne Kelly Schweida-trained...
Shane Nichols’ smart mare I Am A Star returned to winning form at Moonee Valley on Friday night taking out the 2017 Stocks Stakes for the punters on way to likely Myer Classic title defence in November.
The bookies were taking no chances on the four-year-old daughter of I Am Invincible under the lights on Moir Stakes Night as I Am A Star jumped top fancy in the Group 2 $200,000 Zoustar Stocks Stakes (1600m).
She was scratched from Saturday’s Group 1 $1 million Epsom Handicap (1600m) field at Randwick in Sydney in favour of the Melbourne Group 2 and it proved a winning move by connections as she enjoyed her seventh career win at start number 19.
Her favouritism was despite the fact that I Am A Star hadn’t won a race since victory at the track in the Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) back in March, and that her two latest runs produced seventh place efforts including behind Sword Of Light at Flemington in the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m).
Back up to a mile though I Am A Star ($3.50) bounced back to her best and enjoyed a quarter-length victory over Flying Jess ($18), while the in-form Lindsay Park-trained Hell Or Highwater ($4.20) rounded out the Stocks Stakes trifecta in a close third under a length off the winner.
“She had been going OK and things were in order and her work had been very good, but you’ve just got to strike a blow,” Mornington-based Nichols told the media post-win.
“To come and win today is just terrific.”
The Stocks Stakes results took I Am A Star up to two wins and a third from three runs over the Moonee Valley mile and boosted the mare’s prize money up to over $1.18 million.
Her main Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival aim is a return to Flemington Racecourse on Victoria Derby Day, November 4, to defend her title in the $500,000 Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m).
Success in that will see I Am A Star become the first back-to-back Myer Classic winner since the event was inaugurated in 1988.
The likely path into the feature will likely be via the Group 1 $500,000 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield Racecourse on October 14 and the Group 2 $200,000 Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) run on Ladbrokes Cox Plate Day a fortnight later.
“She’s been running well,” Nichols said.
“She just needed to be in the right race, with the right weight, and Ben [Melham] took control of the race.
“It wasn’t a big margin but she’ll still improve off that and her second run at the mile (this preparation) will be better than the first one.”
To back I Am A Star next race at the right spring racing odds head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
2017 Stocks Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Moonee Valley Race 6 (9:00pm) – 29/09/2017
|1||7||I AM A STAR (NZ)||Shane Nichols||Ben Melham||–||7||56.5kg||$3.50F|
|2||6||FLYING JESS||John Moloney||Tye Angland||0.4L||8||56.5kg||$18|
|3||1||HELL OR HIGHWATER||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Dean Yendall||0.9L||9||57kg||$4.20|
|4||11||SMART AS YOU THINK||John McArdle||Jamie Mott||2.4L||11||56.5kg||$18|
|5||5||CONSOMMATEUR (NZ)||Michael Kent||Beau Mertens (a)||2.7L||10||57kg||$41|
|6||3||LIZZIE L’AMOUR (NZ)||Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman||Hugh Bowman||2.8L||1||57kg||$7|
|7||9||JENNIFER LYNN||Darren Weir||Blake Shinn||3.1L||4||56.5kg||$11|
|8||10||EXOCET||Anthony Freedman||Mark Zahra||3.2L||6||56.5kg||$20|
|9||4||HAPPY HANNAH||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Kerrin McEvoy||5.2L||2||57kg||$26|
|10||8||MONTOYA’S SECRET||Leon & Troy Corstens||Joao Moreira||5.7L||12||56.5kg||$12|
|11||12||HEAVENLY DESCENT||Mick Price||Jake Noonan||5.8L||5||56.5kg||$17|
|12||2||RISQUE (NZ)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Regan Bayliss||7.05L||3||57kg||$51|
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