Snaith Star Shines

Silvano mare heads for Paddock Stakes

It’s not easy getting a professional to concede a mistake these days! 

But Justin Snaith was the man in the happy sorry seat following a turn of the corner and a scintillating run by the gutsy Silvano mare Star Express,  who scored something of a surprise victory in the R250 000 Gr3 Victress Stakes at Kenilworth on Saturday.

(Pic – Chase Liebenberg Photography)

Sean Veale gets low on the chasing Premier Dance as Callan Murray keeps Star Express going (Pic – Chase Liebenberg Photography)

Close on two years without a win under the belt, the Majorca Stakes runner-up was  easy to back at 20-1 from her 15 draw bidding to register a first stakes success – and her fluent win was a final bullet in the Pick 6 dreams of many punters.

“She was so good last summer – but I decided like an idiot to raid Johannesburg for the Gr1 Empress Club Stakes at Turffontein in April. Things went pear-shaped and when we brought her back to Durban we just couldn’t get her feet right. So we brought her back to Cape Town and worked on getting her back to best,” said a smiling trainer Justin Snaith.

(Pic – Chase Liebenberg Photography)

Winners on the podium (Pic – Chase Liebenberg Photography)

He said that, given the highs and lows experienced by many horses during their careers, it was good to see Star Express back where she should be.

“’I was really pleased too when Callan Murray phoned for the ride. He is like Bernard Fayd’herbe – except he is talented and is really a pleasant young guy,” joked the Phillipi trainer.

The Avontuur –sponsored Murray said that he had worked Star Express a week earlier and that she had felt good – but that he still couldn’t believe how strongly she galloped to the line.

“I knew she was fit and well and initially I got trapped deep. I must say I had no intention of being so far forward in terms of my riding instructions. But that’s the way the race unfolded and she really ran on so well,” said the talented young jockey.

The surprise for many of us watching from the sidelines was that when Star Express moved forward so early in the straight, that little, if anything, ran on to challenge her.

She beat the revitalised Premier Dance by 1,25 lengths in a time of 113,49 secs.

Topweight Nightingale showed she is getting fitter by snatching third from last year’s winner Goodtime Gal, who seems at her lethal best over slightly shorter.

The pacemaker Seattle Gold was there for a long way but faded out to finish just under 3 lengths off the winner and out of the money.

(Pic – Chase Liebenberg Photography)

Sarah Whitelaw and John Freeman lead the winner in (Pic – Chase Liebenberg Photography)

A R160 000 2014 BSA National 2yo Sale purchase by John Freeman, Star Express has undergone a few restructures in the partnership that owns her but has proven a gem with some black-type to boost her R644 250 stakes kitty. Dr Dave and Mrs Sue Whitelaw, who have been there from day 1, were not on course but were ‘in tears back on the farm’, according to their daughter Sarah, who did the honours at the lead-in.

Star Express has won 5 races with 6 places from 17 starts and can boost her paddock value further when she lines up in the Paddock Stakes next month.

Bred by Dr Ian Heyns, Star Express is a daughter of champion Silvano (Lomitas) out of the three-time winner Majestic Star (Doowaley). The latter is a half sister to Star Of Liberty – dam of champion sprinter, Bull Valley (Toreador). This is the same family as the well performed, and currently for sale, Tara Laing galloper, Star Burst Galaxy (Var).

The winner has a half-sister called Stellar Motion (#63) from the first crop of Champion Sprinter Captain Of All on the Cape Premier Yearling Sale next month.


Gr3 Victress Stakes (SAf-Gr3)

Kenilworth, South Africa, December 16, R250k, 1800m, turf, good, 1.53.49

1 – STAR EXPRESS (SAF), 57.0, ch m 5, Silvano (GER) – Majestic Star (SAF) by Doowaley (IRE). Owner Mrs P A Isdell, Mr G Ragunan, Dr Dave & Mrs Sue Whitelaw; Breeder IR Heyns; trainer J Snaith; jockey C Murray
2 – Premier Dance (SAF), 56.5, b f 4, Silvano (GER) – Akinfeet (SAF) by Fort Wood (USA)
3 – Nightingale (SAF), 60.0, b m 5, Silvano (GER) – Quickwood (SAF) by Fort Wood (USA)
Margins: 1.25, 0.40, 0.75

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