Expensive filly Estijaab shows her brilliance to land Golden Slipper
A$1.7 million Snitzel yearling makes all at Rosehill
Expensive two-year-old filly Estijaab justified her price tag with an all-the-way victory in the $3,500,000 Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday, a race dominated by the fillies.
Trainers Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes combined with Estijaab’s owner His Excellency Nasser Lootah’s Emirates Park to win the premier juvenile race for the second time in four years after winning the race together with Mossfun in 2014.
Beaten by Sunlight in the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes in February, Estijaab bounced back to win the Reisling Stakes before claiming Australia’s biggest juvenile prize after going straight to the lead from barrier 14 in the field of 16.
Estijaab, ridden by Brenton Avdulla, held on to beat Oohood by a long head, with her Tony McEvoy-trained stablemate Sunlight another one and a quarter lengths away in third.
The Grahame Begg-trained Written By, who won the Blue Diamond Stakes and the Pago Pago Stakes last Saturday, was the first colt home in fourth.
Wayne Hawkes was emotional after the race and was thrilled to deliver another Golden Slipper Stakes for Emirates Park with Estijaab.
"(To win) in the same colours as Mossfun, it’s pretty special," Hawkes said.
"She drew the outside barrier and for Brenton to do what he did, he summed it up very well, the greatest shot if you haven’t seen it is the overhead shot, it was amazing.
"To see how she jumped so clean and so easy, she just put two lengths on them straight away.
"He didn’t roar across, he just took his time, it was a winning ride."
The victory was also a special one for Avdulla, who has become an integral part of Hawkes Racing since fellow jockey Tommy Berry moved to Hong Kong last year.
"It’s very emotional, I’ve put in a lot of hard work with the stable and they are very loyal John, Michael and Wayne," Avdulla said.
"Ever since I’ve been on this girl since day dot she’s given me a special feel.
"You dream of riding Golden Slipper winners, when I was 15 and starting apprentice school I was the biggest in the class and they said I had 12 months in the saddle and then I was going back to school."
Avdulla said senior trainer John Hawkes had instilled confidence in him during a Golden Slipper Stakes eve phone call.
"Just the gate speed she has got is unbelievable, my first reaction when she drew 14 was I’ve got no hope but then the more I looked at the more I looked at everything wanting to take a sit," he said.
"I knew I could back her gate speed and ride her positive early and she could get across and control. That’s what she did.
"Everyone was sort of potting her after the other day because she didn’t win by far but I rang John (on Friday night) and he said to me don’t worry mate she is a five lengths better horse than you rode the other day.
"Full credit goes to them, they’ve prepped her really well."
The Golden Slipper Stakes arguably typified the Australian breeding industry, with Estijaab by reigning champion stallion Snitzel, Oohood was an example of the continued remarkable rise of I Am Invincible and Sunlight is by likely first season champion sire Zoustar.
The fourth-placed Written By, the first colt home in the Golden Slipper Stakes, is by Victoria’s best and most expensive stallion, the Woodside Park Stud-based Written Tycoon - already the sire of 2016 Golden Slipper Stakes winner Capitalist.
Bred by Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm, Estijaab has won three of her four starts for prize money of A$2,335,075.
The filly was purchased for A$1,700,000 from the 2017 Inglis Australian Yearling Sale by Emirates Park and Bryan Carlson from the Arrowfield Stud draft. Estijaab was the second most expensive yearling filly sold in Australia in 2017 behind a Redoute’s Choice half-sister to Group One winner English who made A$1,800,000 at the same sale.
Estijaab is one of two foals to race out of dual Group 1-winning sprinter Response, who is a half-sister to Disco Girl, herself the dam of Group 2-winning filly Returntosender.
Estijaab’s half-sister is Alter Call, who was retired to stud last year, while her second dam is the AJC Flight Stakes runner-up Live It Up.
Response’s yearling sister to Estijaab by Snitzel made A$350,000 at the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale and was purchased by Moody Racing.
She has a weanling filly by the champion stallion born in October last year and was again covered by Snitzel on 20 November.
Yoshida purchased Response in foal to Snitzel for A$1,500,000 at the 2015 Magic Millions Gold Coast National Broodmare Sale from the Newgate Farm draft.
Estijaab is one of 81 individual stakes winners for the Arrowfield Stud-based Snitzel and is the 13th Group One winner for the son of Redoute’s Choice.
The filly joins Redzel, Russian Revolution, Trapeze Artist and Invader as Group One winners for Snitzel in the past 12 months.
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