Nechita emerged as one of the likely new stars of the Australian racing scene with a scintillating win in Saturday’s Group Three Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) at Warwick Farm.

After being settled back in the field by rider Christian Reith, Nechita then produced a stunning burst of acceleration to reel in the leaders and then race away for the easiest of wins – the margin was a length and three quarters.

Connections summed up the filly and her performance best with trainer John Thompson describing Nechita as “outstanding” and Reith confessing to “getting goosebumps when you ride her.”

By Australia’s sire of the moment Fastnet Rock, Nechita was purchased for Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm Syndicate by bloodstock Rick Connolly for $130,000 at last year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

“I was quietly confident,” Thompson said. “She has ticked all the boxes and she has done everything we have asked of her.”

“I was a bit worried as there was probably not just one to beat, but half a dozen, with proven stakes class level fillies, and to see her go out and do that was impressive.”

“She is not a gross filly and she does not take a lot of work. She’s very athletic and she is very much a push button horse. She puts herself out there, she began well, she relaxes, pulls out and lets down.”

Thompson said he would be in no rush to decide where the filly runs next. She is a chance to clash with stablemate All Too Hard in the Group One Golden Rose.

“We’ll leave that for the boss,” Thompson said.

Nechita is the 35th individual stakes winner for Danehill’s Lightning Stakes winning son Fastnet Rock and is out to emulate his Group One winning daughters Atlantic Jewel, Mosheen, Se Siren, Lone Rock and Irish Lights in the coming weeks.

Her dam, the three time Sydney winning Peintre Celebre mare Artistique, is proving a great success already at stud with her other runner Art Thou Ready a multiple Sydney winner and runner-up in the Grafton Guineas.

Artistique, who won at distances from 1200 to 1800 metres, is a half sister to the stakes winning fillies and proven winner producers Chiming Lass and Winona.

Bred by Jason Abrahams and Judy Somers, Nechita was sold at the Gold Coast through the draft of Edinglassie Stud.

Her yearling half brother by Northern Meteor has been entered for the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

Commanding display by Jewel Jnr

Champion jockey Damien Oliver was taken by the Moonee Valley win of Commanding Jewel

Commanding Jewel made a massive first impression on Damien Oliver today at Moonee Valley with the Hall of Fame hoop offering a favourable comparison with her superstar older three-quarter sister Atlantic Jewel.

Oliver had his first ride aboard the Leon Corstens-trained three-year-old in the $80,000 Mitchelton Wines Plate (1200m), which the daughter of Commands won comfortably.

Oliver is well-placed to compare the two females, having ridden Atlantic Jewel to victory at Caulfield at her third start in a race, and he said Commanding Jewel was more advanced mentally at the same age.

“She’s probably a little bit more switched on at the same time because, Atlantic Jewel, she looked around and did a bit wrong,” Oliver said.

“The thing about Atlantic Jewel was, she kept improving, whereas this filly pretty much does it right now.”

Commanding Jewel followed in her famous sister’s footsteps when she progressed off a country maiden win on debut to score a Moonee Valley success at her second start.

After jumping with them, Oliver settled behind the leader before edging around heels at the 400m and quickly opened a race-winning buffer.

The $1.85 favourite, who won at Swan Hill on debut, was eased down over the concluding stages to score by a length from the fast-finishing Flying Hostess ($12) with Mama’s Choice ($10) 1-3/4 lengths away third.

“She settled nicely in behind them and she showed a great turn of foot,” Oliver said. “She was going well enough to ease her way out (on the turn), she quickened up nicely and had control of the race on the turn and she won without being tested too much.”

The win didn’t escape the attention of the TAB, which promoted Commanding Jewel from joint second favouritism in the Thousand Guineas to outright favouritism at $6. She eased out to $7 after Nechita won the Silver Shadow Stakes with the Sydneysider the new $4 favourite.

Corstens confirmed after the race that the $500,000 Group 1 event, to be run at Caulfield on 17 October, was Commanding Jewel’s spring target.

“I’d like to think that she will be a Thousand Guineas chance because that would really enhance her pedigree,” he said.

“I’m hoping she’ll get the mile and she looks like she should because she’s a very athletic type of filly.”

By Brad Bishop



Moment of Change will hunt a Group One win over the spring carnival after the gelding scored a record breaking win in Saturday’s listed Show County Handicap (1200m) at Warwick Farm.

Trainer Peter Moody said the Epsom Handicap and even the Cox Plate in October could be future targets for the highly talented son of Barely a Moment.

First up from a spell, Moment of Change much too good, sitting off the speed before coming with a well time run under Peter Robl to win by a widening length and a quarter margin.

“I’m very happy with the win,” Moody said from Moonee Valley. “I see they ran a race record as well.”

“I was particularly pleased with how he settled just behind them – they was the plan and Peter (Robl) rode him perfectly.”

“We’ll step him up to seven furlongs now and look at the Tramway or the Theo Marks.”

“I’m very open minded about where we might head with him. I liked the way he settled and we’d certainly look at a race like the Epsom and he’s also entered for the Cox Plate.”

“We’ll head to his next start over seven (furlongs) and then decide about the rest one race at a time.”

“He’s a really nice horse though and he will come on from the run.”

Moody said he wasn’t too concerned about his quality performer on affected ground.

“He ran third on a heavy track in good grade during the autumn,” Moody said. “It was just that I didn’t want to run him first up on a wet track with his whole campaign in mind.”

Moment of Change is turning out an exceptional money spinner for his connections following his purchase by Rob Slade of Slade Bloodstock for $50,000 at the 2010 Magic Millions Perth Yearling Sale.

With four wins from just seven starts, Moment of Change has won $165,388.

One of two stakes winners by Cornerstone Farm’s Barely a Moment, Moment of Change is the first runner to date for the Perth placed mare Europium and was bred and sold by Western Australia’s Sovereign Thoroughbred Stud.

A daughter of Metal Storm, Europium is a half sister to the Belmont Guineas and Boulder Cup winner Mr Diagnosis. Her dam, and Moment of Change’s second dam, Kosleta earned black type with a win in the listed RJ Peters Stakes.

Other Western Australian Group winners in the pedigree include Daring Smile and Spirit Lady.

Ortensia Thrills at York

Ortensia produced a withering final burst to win the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes sprint by a neck at York last night.

Trainer Paul Messara’s meticulous race planning again played a key role in Ortensia’s third major International sprint win, overnight, in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York on ground which the trainer feared would be too soft for the remarkable mare.

Ortensia produced a withering final burst to win the Group 1 sprint by a neck – to again deny local hope Spirit Quartz who was also second behind her in the King George at Goodwood. Spirit Quartz is trained by Robert Cowell whom Messara says is ‘one of his best mates’.

‘I feel for Robert but this is absolutely fantastic,’ Messara said after Ortensia was able to win after most, the trainer, included had given up on her mid-race, so great a start did she concede.

The mare, somewhat unheralded before 2012 and who had the Group 1 Galaxy of 2010 taken from her under former trainer Tony Noon, has now matched the deeds of the remarkable Takeover Target in her tally of international wins.

This win followed her victories earlier this year in the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai and in the King George at Goodwood. Takeover Target won Group 1’s in Singapore and Japan and was also successful, of course, in the King’s Stand – then a Group 2 – at Royal Ascot.

And this win, in no small part, came down to Messara’s attention to detail and repeated walking of the track in the lead-up to the race. He and Craig Williams plotted a course in Dubai which ensured they were in the fast part of the track and here Messara instructed William Buick to head to the far side rail which had been avoided for most of the week.

‘I’m not sure how much better it was hard against that rail but I know the ground there was unmarked, largely untouched and we had to go there. It was either far left or far right,’ said Messara whose achievements with this mare ought not be undersold.

Not that everything went entirely to plan. ‘I was going to murder William (Buck) with about two and a half furlongs to go. I thought she was too far back. I was feeling sick at that stage, slightly more optimistic at about the 300 (metres) and then started to think she might be a winning hope inside the 150 (metres), ‘ Messara said.

‘But even then she had to produce some finish and that’s what she did. William (Buick) gave her a crack and she really responded. What a huge finish, she’s a great mare. It’s amazing what she’s done. The travel, it’s telling on everybody including her but she just keeps responding.’

Messara said that he thought the track was close to heavy by Australian standards when he walked it on Thursday. ‘I wasn’t bullish. I was super happy with her but I thought the ground might be too soft, even after we had a reasonable night. But at least it had improved a bit by this afternoon. It was on the cusp of what she can handle. But she’s still so much better on top of the ground so I couldn’t be super confident.

‘I couldn’t believe it when the rain came yesterday. Then I though we had no chance but she’s just done such a fantastic job. It’s fabulous. An amazing feeling. Even in the run you couldn’t be sure she’d get there but what a mare she is, what ride she’s given us.’

Messara, who has travelled back and forth from Australia to the UK three times in recent months, said the original plan had not been to campaign her for so long in Europe but now says the ride might not yet have come to an end.

‘We may go to Haydock,’ he said immediately after the race referring to the Sprint Cup on 8 September, ‘but she’ll tell us. We’ll see how she pulls up. The bottom line is looking after her as she’s looked after us so well.’

The trainer said that Ortensia will return to Australia in September to have ‘a deserved spring spell’ before a likely autumn campaign.

Rival trainer and friend Cowell and Spirit Quartz’s rider Frankie Dettori were among the first to congratulate Messara. ‘When I came to England in 2000, I worked for a number of trainers and spent a bit of time with Robert,’ Messara explained, ‘and we’ve become the best of mates. He’s like a brother to me.’

Winning jockey Buick was delighted with his success and taken with the Aussie mare. ‘They went very fast early and I was happy for a little cover. She’s got such a great finish. I wasn’t worried even when we were well back and at the furlong marker (200m) I thought she had them covered,’ Buick said.

By Steve Moran


Frankel’s victory at York proves he is the best we have seen

A stunning performance by the incomparable Frankel in the Juddmonte International at York secured the colt’s place as an all-time superstar. This first test beyond a mile was a rout, predictable from the moment jockey Tom Queally eased the four year-old to the outside and kicked for home two furlongs out.

Now unbeaten in 13 starts and just as brilliant at an extended 10 furlongs as he had been over shorter distances, Frankel is the finished article, an achievement of which Sir Henry Cecil can be justly proud.

Owner Khalid Abdulla, describing this as his greatest moment in racing, must surely look now at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s biggest prize, on Oct 7 – though the colt would have to be supplemented. Bookmaker Paddy Power quote 1-3 ‘with a run’ for Longchamp, bearing in mind that the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot [Oct 20] has always been the colt’s scheduled finale.

Frankel’s trademark ruthlessness was on show again. If the 11-length victory in Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne Stakes in June had caused a stir, this seven-length annihilation of another top-class field was conclusive proof that Frankel is the best to have raced in Europe, ever.

Four decades ago, British fans were spoilt when Mill Reef and Brigadier Gerard came along in the same year just a year after Nijinsky, who was himself only five years after Sea Bird, regarded by many until yesterday as the champion of champions.

More recently, Montjeu and Dubai Millennium were outstanding and Sea The Stars dominated his generation, but none were able to exert the same level of superiority over their rivals on such a consistent basis.

Just examine Frankel’s astonishing recent record. He has won his last six outings by a total of 38 lengths. He has a freakish ability to quicken and destroy his rivals in a matter of strides. All of the victories have been achieved at the highest level and he has consistently beaten horses who have performed well elsewhere. Only 10 days ago, Excelebration, a horse who had been beaten five times by Frankel, won the Group One Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville with great authority.

Quite clearly, the horses Frankel has been brushing aside are Group One performers, who would under normal circumstances have won their share of top-flight races.

Even very good horses have difficulty in maintaining a high level of performance for a long period. Frankel has done it for three seasons.

In a sporting gesture beforehand John Magnier, head of Coolmore, racing’s most successful operation, informed Abdulla and his racing manager Lord Grimthorpe of the Irish stable’s tactics. “He told us that his pacemakers were going to go out in front and that there would be no funny business,” Grimthorpe said.

There was always the fear that one of the pacemakers might be a spoiler, but that notion was quickly knocked on the head. In the event, the pace was strong throughout, which made it a true staying test for St Nicholas Abbey and allowed Frankel to be examined legitimately over this new distance.

The champion passed his test with flying colours. He was always travelling within himself and when asked by Queally to quicken up, he slipped into a higher gear and dashed to the front to the cheers of an ecstatic crowd. Again, he was machine-like in his execution of the plan that Cecil had devised with Queally. Never for a second did he look in any danger.

Such was the ease with which Frankel dismissed his rivals that Prince Khalid, Cecil and Queally are obliged to have an unscheduled discussion on whether he should be in Paris on the first weekend in October rather than at Warren Place. It is time to book the ferry.