Rob Heathcote’s special little filly Startantes...
Trainer Chris Waller continued his dominance over the Phar Lap Stakes results on Coolmore Classic Day preparing his fifth winner in six years with Vinery Stud Stakes-bound Funstar defeating the Kiwi Probabeel in another thrilling battle between the two gun fillies.
Waller has famously used the Group 2 $200,000 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) as a launching pad into the autumn features for his best three-year-old staying fillies and has done so again with his Flight Stakes champion Funstar returning to winning form second-up.
The high-class daughter of Adelaide took her career record up to five wins from seven starts improving on her lead-up second when fresh in the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) to turn the tables on her last start conqueror Probabeel in the Phar Lap Stakes quinella.
The Phar Lap was the fourth encounter between Funstar and the Jamie Richards-trained daughter of Savabeel, Waller’s filly now boasting a three-one advantage.
Jumping the odds-on favourite with Rosehill downgraded to a Heavy (9) for the race, Funstar was taken to the front by jockey James McDonald who continued his lovely association aboard the filly.
McDonald rolled up on the outside of Trust The Process to lead by the first turn, the hoop happy to set a slow pace staying well away from the rails with a deep run aboard the top elect.
Probabeel meanwhile settled last and was still trailing the field at the turn as Funstar was held together to lead onto the straight.
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy took Probabeel towards the inside really revving up the Surround Stakes winner as she gave chase.
Funstar however responded to the challenge, giving a kick to come away over the final 75m for a 1.3 length victory over a very brave Probabeel who was going nowhere before the turn, finishing off well having railed from the back.
“It might have looked easy and her record speaks for itself, she does go on it, but I actually preferred her on that better ground two weeks ago,” McDonald said.
“Her work this week has gone up a couple of notches, she is a weapon.
“She’s just a good horse and good horses can get you out of trouble, it’s probably not her go leading, but she just makes it look so easy and makes my job so easy.”
Rounding out the Phar Lap Stakes trifecta in third a further length and a half back was another Kiwi, the Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman-trained So You Think colt Quick Thinker the best of the boys.
After the success of subsequent equine immortal Winx in 2015, Waller has now prepared the last four Phar Lap Stakes winners on the trot with Funstar joining: Foxplay (2017), Unforgotten (2018) and Verry Ellegant (2019).
“She’s the only Group 1 winner I’ve had go into the race. She’s done a good job. First up run was fantastic and she’s improved off that. It was a good test, Kerrin was within striking distance with 200m to go and we had to put the foot down and it was good to see her respond over the final 100m. James held her together for as long as we could to meet the challenge and it was good to see her finish off so well,” Waller said post-race.
Both Unforgotten and Verry Ellegant also went on to claim the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick during April’s ‘The Championships’.
Last season Verry Ellegant took out the Phar Lap Stakes – Vinery Stud Stakes – Australian Oaks treble, which Funstar could be out to emulate in 2020.
She is like to return to Rosehill Gardens on March 28 for the Group 1 $500,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) and dominates all-in betting on the feature through Ladbrokes.com.au with Waller leaning towards it over the Doncaster Mile in April.
“Only by tradition. It’s a good race, a stepping stone. She’s by Adelaide a middle distance horse so that doesn’t worry me. She doesn’t need to be running in a Doncaster as a three-year-old? What happens if she draws 20 against older seasoned horses. Yes, she has a light weight 49kg but so will some four-year-olds as well. Pretty confident we’ll go toward the Vinery but we’ll make that decision to let everybody know later in the week,” he said.”
Funstar has firmed from $3 into $2.70 in Vinery Stud Stakes betting sitting ahead of Probabeel ($3.60).
In futures ATC Oaks markets, Funstar is the $5 favourite having been wound in slightly from her $6 quote before the Phar Lap Stakes win.
“As three-year-old fillies you can be confident they can run beyond their actual distance. She’s a very good horse I know that,” Waller said of Funstar looking ahead at a potential Oaks run.
2020 Phar Lap Stakes Results
|1||6||FUNSTAR||Chris Waller||James McDonald||–||6||54.5kg||$1.55F|
|2||5||PROBABEEL (NZ)||Jamie Richards||Kerrin McEvoy||1.3L||4||54.5kg||$3.20|
|3||3||QUICK THINKER||Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman||Tim Clark||2.8L||1||56.5kg||$15|
|4||10||ASPECT RATIO||John Sargent||Andrew Adkins||10.4L||5||54.5kg||$41|
|5||1||KUBRICK||Chris Waller||Brenton Avdulla||12.7L||3||56.5kg||$20|
|6||4||TRUST THE PROCESS||Bryce Heys||Michael Walker||12.9L||2||56.5kg||$51|
|–||9||NUDGE||Chris Waller||Jason Collett||–||0||–||–|
|–||2||SPEND||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Joshua Parr||–||0||–||–|
|–||8||SUBPOENAED (NZ)||Chris Waller||Tommy Berry||–||0||–||–|
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