Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas

'Freak of nature' comes to mind when thinking of Ebony Flyer

Ebony Flyer - Gr1 Avontuur Cape Fillies Guineas

Freak of nature.  Those are words which come easily to mind when thinking of Ebony Flyer, who looks to be potentially very special indeed and who on Saturday easily retained her spotless record when capturing the Avontuur Estate Fillies Guineas over 1600m at Kenilworth, writes Matthew Lips

Whether she is indeed a freak or “merely” an outstanding filly only time will tell, but there is something about Ebony Flyer that makes one sit up and take notice.  She is not merely big, she has a presence about her which hints at the possibility of being something truly remarkable.  She hasn’t come close to being beaten yet, and those who helped her to start as the very short priced 4/10 favourite for the Fillies Guineas knew their money was safe a good way from home.  The presence of Mike de Kock’s talented Igugu at least promises to give Ebony Flyer a proper race, and the Australian-bred import started as the 17/10 second favourite in a line-up where you could have had 25/1 or better about any of the other nine contestants.

The pace was decent, with Flaming Alice soon working her way to the head of affairs and setting a respectable tempo in front of Pisces Star and Emerald Cove, with Ebony Flyer perfectly placed in fourth.  Cash Register and Igugu were next in line, the latter racing within a couple of lengths of the hot favourite as In Like Flynn brought up the rear.  Flaming Alice still led turning into the 600m long run-in on the Kenilworth summer course, which was in use for the first time this season, but Ebony Flyer soon shot past everything and set sail for the line.  Kicking clear from 300m out, the market leader cruised into a comfortable lead and only Igugu – much as had been expected – could get anywhere near her.  The rest were left miles astern as Ebony Flyer made a beeline for home, only having to be shaken up in the last 100m or so by Bernard Fayd’Herbe to win by 1.25 lengths from Igugu.

The runner-up was gradually inching closer at the wire, but it never looked like she would catch Ebony Flyer in a month of Sundays even if the winner was ever so slightly starting to possibly run out of gas at the finish.  It was all of 5.5 lengths further back to Ebony Flyer’s stable companion Emerald Cove in third, with In Like Flynn staying on from the rear to be a length behind Emerald Cove in fourth as pacesetter Flaming Alice blew up to finish last of all.  Nothing much other than the winner or (at a push) the runner-up really mattered when the race began in earnest, though.

Igugu was far from disgraced.  She was beaten by a top class rival, and being by Galileo there is every possibility that the Fillies Guineas runner-up will relish going further than 1600m.  The same can hardly be taken for granted where Ebony Flyer is concerned, even though trainer Justin Snaith hinted at the barest of possibilities that the Fillies Guineas winner will take her chances in the J & B Met.

Snaith is under no illusion that Ebony Flyer is going to be in his yard for very much longer.  “She has to go overseas,” he noted afterwards, adding that he is a great believer in the merits of South Africa’s best horses proving themselves internationally.  “She is still very inexperienced,” added Snaith, pointing out that she had taken off “at the top of the straight, which tired her out in the last bit.”

That echoed the sentiments of Bernard Fayd’Herbe. “They went a nice pace and I was happy where I was, but when I asked her to get closer she took off with me,” he said, adding that, “if I’d sat longer she would have won more easily.”  That last remark offers some hope that Ebony Flyer will stay further than a mile, but it still has to be a little bit debatable and she would be going into seriously uncharted waters if she does indeed try her luck at 2000m in the J & B Met.

This marked the third time in four years that Justin Snaith saddled the winner of the Cape Fillies Guineas, having won with Ebony Flyer’s half sister Captain’s Lover in 2007 and with Sparkling Gem in 2008.  Ebony Flyer had run out the 5.5 lengths winner of the Gr 2 Odessa Stud Fillies Championship four weeks earlier and emulated Captain’s Lover’s feat of completing the Odessa/Fillies Guineas double.  Captain’s Lover was later exported, going on to win a race in France, and it is hard not to think that Ebony Flyer is a better filly than her half sibling.

Ebony Flyer  is co-owned by Team Valor International with Anant and Vanashree Singh and with Gaynor Rupert’s Drakenstein Stud, the last named having only bought into Ebony Flyer after the Odessa, and that ownership only makes it more probable that Ebony Flyer is being earmarked for an international campaign.  A daughter of champion sire Jet Master, she is out of the Badger Land mare Sunshine Lover, who won one race over 1200m.  Bred by Willem Engelbrecht and raised on his behalf at Klipdrif Stud, Ebony Flyer was bought for R700 000 at the 2009 National Yearling Sale.  Her four wins from four starts have earned her some R730 000 in stakes.

Cape Fillies Guineas (SAf-G1) (12/4)

Kenilworth, South Africa, December 4, R750.000, 1600m, turf, good, 1.40.21 (CR 1.35.80).

EBONY FLYER (SAF), 58.0, b f 3, Jet Master (SAF) – Sunshine Lover (SAF) by Badger Land. Owner Team Valor International, Drakenstein Stud & Vanashree & Anant Singh; breeder W J Engelbrecht Jr (SAF); trainer J Snaith; jockey B Fayd’herbe (R497.283) – ½ to G1 Captain’s Lover

Igugu (AUS), 58.0, b f 3, Galileo (IRE) – Zarinia (IRE) by Intikhab

Emerald Cove (SAF), 58.0, b f 3, Captain Al (SAF) – Resolution Bay (SAF) by Caesour

Margins: 1¼, 5½, 1

Also ran: In Like Flynn (SAF) 58.0, Cash Register (SAF) 58.0, Stimela (AUS) 58.0, Six Blue Notes (SAF) 58.0, School Captain (SAF) 58.0, Dancing Royale (AUS) 58.0, Pisces Star (SAF) 58.0, Flaming Alice (SAF) 58.0

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