Avontuur-sponsored Callan Murray has matured as a rider with the benefit of his recent Australian expedition and made no mistakes on the smart More Than Ready filly Ektifaa, who slammed her six male rivals to win the R250 000 Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes at Turffontein on Saturday.
Young Murray was no doubt still smarting from his ‘humbling’ by his senior Gavin Lerena a half hour earlier in the Listed Wolf Power 1600 and, noticeably fired up, he was making no mistakes as he rode an aggressive race to hit the front early on the obviously well above-average Australian-bred filly.
The Tony Ruffel Stakes is a Gauteng Guineas prep and Mike de Kock obviously knew what he had when he threw the daughter of More Than Ready into the deep end with the boys.
With Matador Man and Doosra possibly needing a sharpener in advance of the Guineas next month, De Kock’s plan worked perfectly – and Ektifaa showed she is loaded with ability.
Riding a similar race to what he had for the stable in the Wolf Power, Murray pounced quite early in the home straight and went for broke as Ektifaa swept forward, with Matador Man taking his time to catch his top stride.
Ektifaa never looked like being caught though and with Murray saluting the stands in triumph, she went on well to hold Matador Man by 0,60 lengths in a time of 88,46 secs.
The 5-2 Listed Secretariat Stakes winner Matador Man is no slouch and tried his heart out – but was comprehensively walloped in receipt of 1,5kgs by the winner.
The topweight Doosra was given every chance but never quickened finishing a further 2,90 lengths back in third. He will come on from this effort and should not be discarded.
Chili Con Carne was under pressure a long way from home and ran a weak fourth.
Ektifaa has now won four on the trot since shedding her maiden at her fourth jump.
She showed no signs of ring rustiness after a 15 week break following her outstanding away-from-home effort to win the Gr2 Choice Carriers Championship early in the Cape summer.
Ektifaa is by More Than Ready and the first foal of Stellar Vinia (Redoute’s Choice), bred by John Camilleri’s Fairway Thoroughbreds.
While the Gauteng Guineas will no doubt be her next target, there must be some doubts about her staying further.
Ektifaa is a half-sister to champion NZ sprinter -miler Calveen.
The winner has been a model of consistency and took her earnings to R565 000 with her 4 wins and 3 places from 7 starts.
She was purchased for $600 000 by Shadwell Australia at the 2015 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale in the draft of Segenhoe Stud.
Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes (SAf-Gr3)
Turffontein, South Africa, February 11, R250k, 1450m, turf, soft, 1.28.46
1 – EKTIFAA (AUS), 58.5, b f 3, More Than Ready (USA) – Stellar Vinia (AUS) by Redoute’s Choice (AUS). Owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum; Breeder bred in Australia; trainer MF de Kock; jockey C Murray
2 – Matador Man (SAF), 57.0, b g 3, Toreador (IRE) – Sahara (SAF) by Mogok (USA)
3 – Doosra (SAF), 60.0, b c 3, Captain Al (SAF) – Caughtintheslips (SAF) by Caesour (USA)
Margins: 0.60, 2.90, 2.75