Estijaab a A$1.7 million bargain after Golden Slipper win
In what seemed a high-quality renewal, the Snitzel filly Estijaab produced a dazzling display of sustained speed on a soft Rosehill track to lead all the way and win last Saturday's Golden Slipper Stakes.
Coming from an outside barrier, Estijaab quickly crossed the field and, surprisingly, none of the other speedsters wanted to challenge her early, and only in the closing stages did she look in any danger of defeat, holding off the strong finish of I Am Invincible filly Oohood to score by a head, with Zoustar filly Sunlight a length and a quarter away in third in an all-female finish. Race time was 1:12.01.
The first colt home was Blue Diamond Stakes winner Written By, a son of Written Tycoon, who finished fourth.
For her owners Emirates Park, Estijaab provided a second Golden Slipper winner in the space of four years after the victory of Mossman filly Mossfun in 2014 and there are links common to both: both are graduates of the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, were prepared by Team Hawkes and have champion sire Snitzel prominent in their pedigrees, as the Arrowfield Stud-based sire is the father of Estijaab and maternal grandsire of Mossfun, now a broodmare.
Also worthy of comment on Estijaab's pedigree is that her Charge Forward dam Response is by the same sire as Courgette, who produced last year's Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign.
Since the first Golden Slipper in 1957, won in cavalier style by the brilliant Todman, the vast majority of winners of this supreme test for sprinting two-year-olds have carried at least one line of Star Kingdom blood and Estijaab, with four lines, is certainly no exception. Two of those lines are through champion sire Bletchingly, himself sire of Golden Slipper winners Star Watch (1988) and Canny Lad (1990).
Estijaab also has linebreeding to US speed sire In Reality with Snitzel's third dam, A Realgirl, being closely related to Valid Appeal, who appears in Charge Forward's background, as her second dam Scotch Verdict also produced Valid Appeal's dam Desert Trial, a top-class racemare.
Purchased last Easter for A$1.7 million (£928,000/€1.06m), Estijaab was officially bred by Arrowfield Group and Jungle Pocket, the Australian company of leading Japanese breeder Katsumi Yoshida of Northern Farm and co-owner of the famous Shadai Stallion Station.
Yoshida bought the filly's dam, dual Group 1 winner Response, carrying Estijaab, for A$1.5m from Newgate Farm at the 2015 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale at the Gold Coast.
Response has been exclusively wedded to Snitzel since 2014. Her 2016 filly sold to Peter Moody for A$350,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in January, she has another Snitzel weanling filly and is due to foal to him again in the spring.
Stakes-placed Melbourne winner Alter Call is the only other foal of Response to race while Response is one of five winners left by Live It Up, a Sydney winner whose finest racing achievement came when second to Danarani in the 1994 Flight Stakes.
Live It Up was the only winner of note for her little-used sire Match Winner. Her first two dams were also by unfashionable sires but Estijaab's fifth dam, the Newhaven Park-bred Loyalty, is a sister to top sprinter Farnworth and a three-parts sister to durable champion filly Wenona Girl from Classic winner Golden Chariot.
Wenona Girl, a beautiful, bright chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail, was a special favourite of racegoers in the 1960s and retained her form during a long and testing career, much like Winx. She won her first start as an early two-year-old in the Gimcrack Stakes (now a Listed contest over 1000m) and was still winning top events at six, among them 14 races now considered Group 1 quality.
Estijaab is the first Golden Slipper winner for Arrowfield Stud's sensationally successful stallion Snitzel, Australia's champion sire last season with record earnings of more than A$16m, a record he is set to break very easily again this season as his earnings already approach A$22m with four months before the 2017-18 season closes.
At this point of the season Snitzel has a record equalling 26 stakes winners to his name including four at Group 1 level: Estijaab, Redzel, Trapeze Artist and Russian Revolution, who is soon to retire to Newgate Farm. Overall he has sired 13 Group 1 winners.
Snitzel's 2018 service fee is yet to be announced but is likely to be increased from the A$176,000 (inc GST) he commanded in 2017 when the dust settles after next month's Australian Easter Yearling Sale, at which 64 of his progeny are due to be offered.
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