The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
The Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained Away Game was back in winning form taking out the 2021 WJ Healy Stakes in Brisbane ahead of a potential trip to America for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar this November.
The now three-year-old Snitzel filly celebrated her first win since backing up from a Golden Slipper second to win last year’s Group 2 Percy Sykes Stakes during the 2020 The Championships in Sydney.
Away Game took her record up to five wins at her 14th start in the card closer at Eagle Farm on Tattersall’s Tiara Day, hitting another gear late to claim the Group 3 $175,000 WJ Healy Stakes (1200m) thanks to a patient ride by Stephanie Thornton.
Best known for her $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic win as a juvenile, the talented and still lightly-raced filly improved second-up off her Hinkler Handicap third when beating home the Godolphin-raced Exhilarates ($10) by a neck.
Thornton allowed Away Game ($4.60) to settle three wide in the second half of the field throughout as In Good Time lead them around in the Healy.
With 450m left to travel, the in-form Usmanov chasing a third win on the trot was off and away out to a big lead onto the straight.
Away Game meanwhile was working well down the outside and, as Usmanov began to tire at the 200m, Thornton went right to the outside on the second-favourite and flew home to salute for the punters making up six lengths from the top of the straight to the finishing post.
“She’s a really good horse. Most of our horses improve second-up and really good ride by Steph Thornton,” co-trainer Maher told Sky Thoroughbred Central.
“We were confident to ride her a little bit quiet today and wait for that turn of foot and she got it spot on.”
Brilliant late in an exciting finish, Away Game and Exhilarates were followed over the line by the fellow Maher & Eustace-trained Bella Nipotina ($7.50) who ran a close third with the Tattersall’s Tiara winning hoop Craig Williams in the saddle.
Maher said the Breeders’ Cup could be on the cards for Away Game at the end of the year, the filly part-owned by connections in America.
“She may get a ticket from this to go over to the Breeders’ Cup,” he said.
“That might be just the ticket she needs to get over there and have a crack at a Breeders’ Cup.”
The 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic runs on November 7th (Australian time) at Del Mar in San Diego.
2021 WJ Healy Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||6||AWAY GAME||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Ms Stephanie Thornton||9||54.5kg||$4.60|
|2||3||EXHILARATES||James Cummings||Ryan Maloney||0.3L||3||58kg||$10|
|3||15||BELLA NIPOTINA||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Craig Williams||0.4L||7||54kg||$7.50|
|4||8||KING OF HASTINGS||Anthony & Sam Freedman||Jim Byrne||1.9L||8||54.5kg||$8|
|5||2||USMANOV||Toby & Trent Edmonds||Baylee Nothdurft||2L||1||59kg||$15|
|6||9||JEN RULES||Peter & Paul Snowden||Bobby El-Issa||2.2L||6||54kg||$4.40F|
|7||14||DOCTOR ZOUS||Darryl Hansen||Ben Thompson||3.45L||12||54kg||$51|
|8||5||HIGHTAIL||Peter & Paul Snowden||James Orman||4.45L||10||55.5kg||$11|
|9||10||HAIL MANHATTAN||Peter & Will Hulbert||Ron Stewart||4.55L||11||54kg||$26|
|10||11||HILO||Gillian Heinrich||Michael Cahill||4.85L||2||54kg||$26|
|11||12||IN GOOD TIME||Tracey Bartley||Mark Du Plessis||5.6L||5||54kg||$51|
|12||7||ZANIAH||Kris Lees||Andrew Mallyon||7.6L||13||54.5kg||$13|
|13||4||REDOUBLE||Sonja Kumpikas||Paul Hammersley||7.8L||4||58kg||$71|
|SB||13||INANUP||Barry Lockwood||Robbie Fradd||0||54kg|
|1||BALLER||Tony Gollan||James McDonald||0|
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