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16/07/02 HOY Preview: Three Horse Race for Female Honours
1106ethereal.jpg (15909 bytes)The race to be crowned the Vinery Champion Filly or Mare looks a real race in three, and perhaps just two. Ethereal and Sunline are expected to poll the most votes in the award which could give consideration to Ha Ha as well as the juveniles Victory Vein, Calaway Gal and Lovely Jubly.

Ethereal proved she was a superior staying mare when she took the elusive Caulfield and Melbourne Cup double during the Spring Carnival late last year. Her performance to hold out Sky Heights and Celestial Show in the Caulfield Cup was a great effort.

Her next effort to power home and them comfortably beat the Godolphin visitor Give the Slip. Just when it looked like Saeed bin Suroor had grabbed his first Melbourne Cup, the bonny New Zealand mare and Scott Seamer soon got into gear and powered to a historic win.

1106ethereal2.jpg (15848 bytes)What really added more bite to Ethereal’s charge toward the Filly and Mare crown and indeed the Horse of the Year trophy came with her final start of the season, and career in the Group One The BMW.

Just when it looked like the dashing stayer Universal Prince had the BMW parceled up after edging past the Aussie Cup placed Rain Gauge, the Laxon trained mare knuckled down and flew home for a memorable final stride win in the 2400 metre event.

As well as he three wins, the mare was placed in three other races during the season including the Group One Yalumba Stakes, when she chased home Northerly and Shogun Lodge, both top class performers.

Ethereal’s main danger for the filly and mare category must come from her fellow kiwi rival Sunline, a back to back Horse of the Year winner.

Had Sunline won either the Manikato Stakes at her first run this preparation or the Cox Plate when she was outgunned by Northerly, this award would probably be hers. But she didn’t win either – being soundly beaten at her favourite track on both occasions.

r6sunline.jpg (11511 bytes)In fact the champion mare didn’t really even come into contention until she ventured to Sydney and away from her nemesis Northerly to win the Coolmore Classic (by a neck), Doncaster Handicap (by a short half head) and the All Aged Stakes (by six and a half lengths).

Although she is the only horse to have won four Group One races during the season, Sunline’s runaway win in the (weak) Waikato Draught Sprint cannot be taken into consideration for any award as it was on foreign shores.

The Gai Waterhouse trained filly Ha Ha proved her class as the best filly of her age in the country with a gutsy win in the Group One Flight Stakes. She also won feature races on the Gold Coast and in Sydney beating both male rivals and older horses along the way.

1221johnsingleton.jpg (10433 bytes)Ha Ha’s fighting second to Magical Miss in the Group One Thousand Guineas at Caulfield in October was perhaps one of her best runs. After making all of the running after coming from a wide gate she was snared in the final couple of strides by the subsequent VRC Oaks winner Magical Miss, another filly who may poll votes in this award.

If the juveniles were to get recognition against the older horses then the youngster Victory Vein may also poll. The Bede Murray trained two-year-old was clearly the best of her age during the season. Little mentions to Golden Slipper winnner Calaway Gal and multiple Group One winner Lovely Jubly.

For the record my vote went to Ethereal.

To view the seasonal records of the major contenders click here.

PICS - Quentin Lang.

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