Veteran 10-year-old Ihtsahymn entered the...
Ciaron Maher & David Eustace’s star filly Loving Gaby continued her ace record at the notoriously tight Moonee Valley circuit with a brilliant win in Friday night’s 2020 William Reid Stakes over Gytrash and Bivouac.
It was a star-studded edition of the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) with last start Newmaket Handicap winner Bivouac ($2.10) going out as the hot favourite.
The James Cummings-trained Exceed And Excel colt however only managed to run 2.75 lengths back third behind the winning I Am Invincible filly as Loving Gaby ($5.50) turned the tables, improving on her Newmarket second when returning to her preferred track.
Upset Black Caviar Lightning winner Gytrash ($15) continued his ace autumn, Gordon Richards’ Morphettville-trained four-year-old running second on the back of a Newmarket third as the same three sprinters filled the trifecta once again.
Loving Gaby took her record up to three-from-three at The Valley and celebrated her second career Group 1 following her Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes victory at the same track and distance last spring.
She has run top three now in her nine latest runs not having finished out of the money since her Golden Slipper fourth in the wet a year ago.
Surprisingly, jockey Ben Melham took a sit on expected frontrunner in the William Reid Stakes, Pippie (eventual fourth past the post), with Hugh Bowman then opting to go forward and lead on the favourite Bivouac.
Craig Williams meanwhile took Loving Gaby up on the outside to settle just off the leader, getting a perfect run in transit, before she hit the front upon straightening and extended her position all the way through the line.
“She was looking for the bend last start down the straight but Craig Williams, too, it was a brilliant ride,” co-trainer Maher said post-win.
“I thought the key to this race was the start. He had to be quite forceful with her to get her in that position and I think that was the difference.
“She looked to be travelling quite well and he is a high-quality horse Bivouac, but it was her night tonight.”
Williams was also full of post-race praise for the William Reid Stakes winner.
“There are not many horses at this elite level that you can ride them a little bit out of the gates, sit, and then ask them to kick a fair way from home and hold on so determinedly as she did tonight,” the hoop said.
As a juvenile, Loving Gaby was tested up over a mile when runner-up to Castelvecchio in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m).
Maher said that she could again be extended over more distance when the $7.5 million The Golden Eagle (1500m) for four-year-olds roles around in November.
“I wouldn’t say a race like the Golden Eagle, similar to what Sunlight did (running second), mightn’t be out of her reach given she has been to the mile,” he said.
As for the remainder of her autumn prep, Maher said the focus was on sending the filly to Sydney where she is yet to salute as Loving Gaby eyes the Group 1 $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 4.
“The TJ (Smith) has always been the plan first,” Maher confirmed.
“If she pulls up well, we’ll definitely look at that.”
2020 William Reid Stakes Results
|1||11||LOVING GABY||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Craig Williams||–||5||54kg||$5.50|
|2||3||GYTRASH||Gordon Richards||Mark Zahra||1.25L||4||58.5kg||$15|
|3||9||BIVOUAC||James Cummings||Hugh Bowman||2.75L||1||56kg||$2.10F|
|4||7||PIPPIE||John & Chris Meagher||Ben Melham||3.25L||10||56.5kg||$13|
|5||6||MYSTIC JOURNEY||Adam Trinder||Anthony Darmanin||3.45L||6||56.5kg||$21|
|6||10||EXCEEDANCE||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Tommy Berry||4.7L||8||56kg||$8|
|7||4||VITAL SILVER||Daniel & Ben Pearce||Jye McNeil||5L||9||58.5kg||$31|
|8||8||EMBRACE ME (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||Damien Oliver||5.1L||7||56.5kg||$41|
|9||1||SCALES OF JUSTICE||Lindsey Smith||Dean Yendall||5.2L||3||58.5kg||$14|
|10||2||ROCK MAGIC||Chris Gangemi||Michael Dee||5.95L||11||58.5kg||$101|
|11||5||ZOUTORI||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||Damian Lane||6.15L||2||58.5kg||$26|
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