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Odds-on favourite Libertini ran third as the beaten favourite in Saturday’s exciting edition of the 2019 Tea Rose Stakes that saw the Chris Waller-trained Funstar emerge as the new Flight Stakes favourite after her photo-finish victory.
There were three brilliant fillies fighting it out to the line over the final furlong in in this year’s Group 2 $200,000 Darley Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on George Main Stakes Day.
The field was led around by the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Anaheed who relinquished her lead at the top of the straight to Anthony Cummings’ Silver Shadow Stakes – Furious Stakes double winner Libertini.
Libertini stayed wide early before jockey Tommy Berry allowed her to go forward on her own account and settle second in the run just ahead of Funstar who took the sit in third behind the glamour filly.
Ace hoop James McDonald moved up on the outside aboard Funstar, who did a bit wrong in a race lacking tempo, coming around the corner as Libertini briefly hit the lead.
The favoured daughter of I Am Invincible however could not shake Waller’s well-bred daughter of 2014 Cox Plate champion Adelaide, Funstar continuing to fight in her black-type debut.
“She did a lot wrong today, the speed was against us through the middle stages, they pulled back to a walk, she got over racing and I was just lucky that I was on a very, very good filly,” McDonald said post-win.
“She is a filly going places. If we can ride her back from a stronger tempo we will see the result.
“I was surprised at the lack of tempo and I was more surprised that she still won because she wasn’t entitled to.”
The other danger was the James Richards-trained NZ raider, Probabeel, with the Furious Stakes fourth placed Savabeel filly coming with a flashing late run right down the outside.
In a three-way photo it was Funstar ($3.60) who put her nose down at the right time in a gallant effort to defeat Probabeel ($14) and Libertini ($1.85) in the Tea Rose Stakes trifecta.
“She has a strong finish to her races. Hopefully not as close next time,” winning trainer Waller said post-victory.
“We’ve said all along she has all the right attributes to be a decent horse.”
The Tea Rose Stakes is the third leg of the Princess’ Series of races that culminates with the Group 1 $500,000 Flight Stakes (1600m) back at Royal Randwick on October 5, Waller confirming the target for Funstar.
“When she gets over a little bit further she will be even better,” he said.
“The mile of the Flight Stakes in two weeks’ time. Hope things work out and she continues to improve.
“They backed off the speed [today] and I think it was more tempo related [to have her not settling early].
“It shows there is still a bit of upside. When you get a really genuinely run race that will be a big help to her.
“She is a really talented horse and one you can work well with.
“That always shines out to the trainer when trying to identify a good horse. It’s a pleasure working with horses like her.”
There is a chance Libertini may now bypass the mile showdown, the beaten favourite better on top of the ground and perhaps a genuine sprinter.
“Gallant run, we had a really good run in transit, got to back the speed off mid-race, I thought I had the race pretty much won at the 100m, she probably had enough, but she tries so hard she fought them off until the 50m. She was beaten by two very good fillies,” Berry said of Libertini.
Six of the last 11 Tea Rose Stakes winners have gone on to win the Flight Stakes with Alizee (2017) the last to do the double.
As for Libertini, she has eased out from $2.80 to $6 for the Flight Stakes while Probabeel has been shortened in from $11 to $4.80 to take out the Group 1 mile feature on Epsom Handicap Day.
2019 Tea Rose Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||5||FUNSTAR||Chris Waller||James McDonald||–||5||56kg||$3.60|
|2||3||PROBABEEL (NZ)||Jamie Richards||Kerrin McEvoy||0.1L||1||56kg||$15|
|3||1||LIBERTINI||Anthony Cummings||Tommy Berry||0.2L||8||56kg||$1.85F|
|4||12||EMERALDS||John Sargent||Nash Rawiller||2.8L||7||56kg||$31|
|5||2||ANAHEED||Peter & Paul Snowden||Joshua Parr||3.2L||6||56kg||$11|
|6||7||SUBPOENAED (NZ)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||5.3L||9||56kg||$14|
|7||6||LET IT POUR||Bjorn Baker||Brenton Avdulla||5.4L||3||56kg||$15|
|8||10||ST COVET’S SPIRIT||Jason Coyle||Adam Hyeronimus||5.5L||4||56kg||$151|
|9||9||ASPECT RATIO||John Sargent||Luke Currie||8.3L||2||56kg||$71|
|–||4||FLIT||James Cummings||Tim Clark||–||0||–||–|
|–||11||DARLING POINT||Brad Widdup||Glen Boss||–||0||–||–|
|–||8||MADDI ROCKS||Chris Waller||Jason Collett||–||0||–||–|
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