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She was the odds-on favourite at Winx-like odds of $1.16 but the Anthony Cummings-trained Libertini only just won the 2019 Furious Stakes for the punters after a late fright at Royal Randwick.
Backed like the only horse in the race, brilliant I Am Invincible filly Libertini had to fight for her fourth straight win when challenged by the Gerald Ryan-trained daughter of Foxwedge Villami in Saturday’s Group 2 $200,000 Darley Furious Stakes (1200m).
Villami came off a lead-up fourth behind Libertini at the same track on August 24 in the Group 2 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) and jockey Tim Clark was not going down without a fight second-up.
He took his mount straight to the front in the set weights clash looking to go all-the-way in an upset Furious Stakes result.
Jockey Tommy Berry meanwhile had the hot favourite Libertini positioned third on the outside, the filly with her head tucked tracking away well throughout.
On the home straight Libertini was still on the bridle, Berry just nudging something from her at the 200m.
She moved up to the front runner and it looked like it would be the Libertini show with the filly positioned to run away from it.
To the surprise of many however, Villami fought back once Libertini moved up beside her and the two smart fillies raced stride for stride to the line.
In the end, class prevailed and despite the best efforts of the runner-up who put in the performance of her life, Libertini won the Furious Stakes in a slick 1:09.22.
It was very fast time, especially the 400m – 200m sectional when Villami increased the speed and pressure for a 10.87 sectional.
“She’s run very good time again,” winning hoop Berry said.
“She is probably going to be a better horse with a few weeks between runs.
“She’s done everything we’ve asked her to do and won again well.”
In third rounding out the Furious Stakes trifecta was Bjorn Baker’s ultra-consistent daughter of Redoute’s Choice Let It Pour who was forced to settle for her fourth placing from as many career starts having also run third in the Silver Shadow.
Libertini is now set to continue on the Princess Series of Races this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival with a next-up start back at Randwick on September 21 in the Group 2 $200,000 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m).
“She was up to the task,” Cummings said post-win.
“We’ve won the second leg of the Princess Series. I think the way the races have played out today it favoured horses on speed.
“Watching the race I thought she was a length too far off them. There was a fair bit of merit in what she did.
“We’ll go to that race (Tea Rose) to give us a guide.”
Cummings has options galore with the now four-time winner who could be tested over a mile on Epsom Day (October 5) in the Group 1 $500,000 Flight Stakes (1600m) or kept to the shorter sprints.
She remains in talks for securing a possible slot in the world’s richest turf race when Randwick hosts the $14 million The Everest (1200m) on October 19, but owner Gerry Harvey said he was not convinced she was the right horse for the race.
“I thought my horse would win by 3 or 4 lengths and it didn’t and I was bitterly disappointed,” he said of the Furious Stakes result.
“So from my point of view here I was thinking ‘look at that horse, it ran out on my horse in the straight. It would have won a protest’.
“We won, that is the most important thing. I think we have the best three-year-old filly in Australia.
“We’ll assess after the race in two weeks, but I’ve got Baller for the Everest and he was more convincing.”
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