Rob Heathcote’s special little filly Startantes...
Randwick horseman John Sargent has the deserving favourite in early 2018 ATC Oaks betting after the brilliant late win by his young staying filly Luvaluva in Friday’s Group 3 $200,000 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m).
The well-bred daughter of Mastercraftsman proved her class and ability second-up in the fillies’ only affair charging home with huge late strides in the last 100m to post her third win at career start number nine.
“That was above expectations probably over a mile, but when they’re good they’re good,” winning trainer Sargent, who picked the filly up for a steal for $50,000 in NZ, said post-win.
“She’s just got a bit more scope then them.
“She’s more like a mare now.
“It’s onwards and upwards, let’s hope we keep going.”
Luvaluva came off a lead-up sixth to subsequent Randwick Guineas winner Kementari from February 24 in the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) as a $61 roughie and continued to frank that very nice autumn form.
Back against her own kind in the Kembla Grange Classic, Luvaluva was given a gun run by star hoop Kerrin McEvoy even though the duo found themselves a little further back off the pace than expected.
“It looked a nice race for today and we had a nice run,” McEvoy said after celebrating back-to-back wins in the race having ridden Dawn Wall (2017) to victory last autumn.
Winner of Flemington’s Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) last VRC Oaks Day in Melbourne before a fourth in the Group 1 VRC Oaks (2500m), Luvaluva settled just worse than midfield as the Kembla Grange Classic field was led around by Mandylion.
She held front position ahead of the well-supported Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Pandemonium, her lightly-raced stablemate Wedgie and the firming favourite pre-jump Torvill from the stables of Clarry Conners.
Coming around the turn for home, Rimraam saved ground racing into third on the fence, while McEvoy tried to get into the clear looking in a little bit of trouble 400m out from the line.
At the 350m Not A Single Doubt filly Torvill ($3.60), coming off the excellent second to Shoals in the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) from March 3, presented and moved ahead to snare a narrow lead out wide.
After hitting a bit of a flat spot, Luvaluva ($5) finally got into gear in the final 100m and exploded home late flashing past the brave Torvill who went down fighting to a better staying filly on the day.
Rounding out the trifecta in third was well-bred Foxwedge filly Wedgie ($10) having her first black-type test at start number five.
The bookies were quick to react to the Kembla Grange Classic result, Luvaluva firming in pre-field Australian Oaks odds into $6 favouritism at Ladbrokes.com.au to hand Sargent a second win in the race he won with Gust Of Wind (2015) in an upset over Winx three years ago.
On way to the Group 1 $1 million Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Day 2 of ‘The Championships’, April 14, Luvaluva is set to contest the Group 1 $500,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 31.
“She stays past a mile, which is what she showed previously,” McEvoy added on Friday.
“She’s a nice filly going towards the Vinery and then the Oaks.”
The Kembla Grange Classic – Vinery Stud Stakes double was most recently completed by Single Gaze (2016).
Rising Romance (4th in 2014) meanwhile was the last Australian Oaks winner to come off a Vinery Stud Stakes lead-up.
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