Rob Heathcote’s special little filly Startantes...
The Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Away Game ticked another box towards the Golden Slipper in March with her gutsy win in Saturday’s 2020 Widden Stakes.
Kicking off the Randwick racing on Expressway Stakes Day, talented Snitzel filly Away Game jumped the short-priced $2.10 favourite through Ladbrokes.com.au in the Group 3 $160,000 Widden Stakes (1100m).
In a tough run up front the bonny bay didn’t have it easy in the lead but proved her tenacity and class with a third straight win after two Queensland victories over the summer.
Backing up from a nearly two length upset in the Gold Coast’s $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m), Away Game was given a nice ride by visiting international hoop Tom Marquand.
With the 57.5kg topweight she became the first filly in over 20 years to carry more than 56.5kg to victory in the Widden Stakes and joined Driefontein (56.5kg in 2012) as the only ones in the past two decades to cart more than 56kg.
Marquand pushed forward on the outside to take up the lead but connections and favourite backers had to endure a tense few moments when Away Game looked in trouble upon straightening.
With her rivals kicking up underneath her, she was made to work and Marquand had to press the button more than once.
Despite looking vulnerable in the closing stages, she pulled out all the stops and was very tough to the line ahead of the Chris Waller-trained runner-up Centimental ($6.50) with Philizzy ($5), tightened for a run on the home straight, in third.
“She had to do that the hard way, but she’s clearly a battler,” Marquand said post-win.
“She showed she was tough and she had plenty of class.
“She showed even amounts of grit and determination there and hopefully that increases her prize money for the race coming up.
“Clearly she’s very talented and she’s good enough to take on the best.”
Co-trainer Maher confirmed the filly was on way to the world’s richest race for juveniles, the $3.5 million Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) running at Rosehill on March 21.
“She’s now a dual stakes winner very early in her career,” Maher said.
“She’s on route to the Slipper.”
With her winnings from the Magic Millions Classic not counting towards her eligible Slipper prize money, Maher said the team would see where she now sat on the ballot order monetary wise before making the call on whether she would race again before the big race.
“We’ll see where she sits after this,” he said.
“She certainly doesn’t need a lot of racing.
“We might not see her again until then.
“This filly is very sharp and very natural.”
Overreach (2013) and Mossfun (2014) are the only fillies to have previously completed the Widden Stakes – Golden Slipper double.
Before her Widden Stakes victory Away Game was rated a $19 chance in all-in Golden Slipper betting at Ladbrokes.com.au and she has subsequently firmed into $14.
Click here for the updated 2020 Golden Slipper odds.
2020 Widden Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||1||AWAY GAME||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Tom Marquand||–||5||57.5kg||$2.10F|
|2||4||CENTIMENTAL||Chris Waller||Kerrin McEvoy||2.3L||3||54.5kg||$6.50|
|3||2||PHILIZZY||Anthony Cummings||Christian Reith||2.5L||2||56kg||$5|
|4||5||SEPTEMBER RUN||Chris Waller||Tommy Berry||3L||4||54.5kg||$5|
|5||3||IN FLANDERS||James Cummings||Jason Collett||3.5L||1||54.5kg||$9.50|
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