Star Witness followed in the footsteps of sibling Ferocity when he scored a crushing win in Saturday’s $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington.
This year’s Blue Diamond winner pulled off an ambitious campaign by top trainer Danny O’Brien, who resisted the temptation to target the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and instead aim for the 1200-metre Group 1.
It was a race Ferocity, who is out of former top racemare Leone Chiara, won when it was a Group 2 run in September and O’Brien said to win a Group 1 version on AAMI Derby Day ranked among the Flemington trainer’s career highlights.
“I trained his three-quarter brother Ferocity to win an Ascot Vale and always from the time he won as a two-year-old we had it in our minds that the straight course would be his best racing,” O’Brien said.
“We’ve been looking forward to this all spring. We left the (Caulfield) Guineas alone and waited for this race, so there was a lot riding on today and to produce him and have him produce has been very satisfying.”
Star Witness ran up to a slashing jumpout with Hay List at Flemington on Tuesday to score a decisive win.
The son of Starcraft jumped well from barrier two and trailed speedy filly Solar Charged until the 500m mark, which was when jockey James Winks popped into the open to mount a challenge.
He cruised to the lead within 200m before surging away from his rivals over the final furlong.
At the line the $5 equal favourite had two lengths to spare over $41 chance Curtana,while Shrapnel ($13) didn’t have a lot of luck between the 400m and 200m but still grabbed third, three quarters of a length back.
Pressday ($6) lost all chance when he bombed the start, while Soul ($7) was under pressure a long way out and had to settle for equal sixth with Sistine Angel.
Winks said Star Witness, who ran fourth behind Black Caviar at his final Coolmore lead-up, said he relished the return to Flemington and felt he had the race won along way out.
“He just travelled so good,” Winks said. “He’s a totally different horse down the straight, he finds a rhythm, he relaxes and I actually had to grab a hold of him again (because) he was just going to get there too early.
“When I pushed the button he put it beyond doubt.” Star Witness will be back in action up the Flemington straight next Saturday with O’Brien eager to take on Black Caviar and Hay List in the $750,000 Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic.