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19/07/02 HOY Preview: Ethereal a Certainty for Stayer Award
r8ethereal2.jpg (11847 bytes)After sweeping away with the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups during the Spring Carnival, Ethereal has etched her name on the trophy for the Radio Sport 927 Champion Stayer award which will be presented at next Tuesday's Australia Racing Champions Night at Crown Palladium.

Trained by Sheila Laxon, Ethereal became the first horse since Might and Power and the first mare since Let's Elope, to win the elusive Cups double.

Back in October she showed plenty of determination to hold out Sky Heights on her outside and Celestial Show on her inside to win the 2400 metre Caulfield feature in a thrilling three way finish.

And then a few weeks later, at her very next start, she powered home to down the European visitor Give the Slip to win the world's richest handicap, the Melbourne Cup at a rain affected Flemington.

r8ccup.jpg (9125 bytes)If those two wins had not been enough to capture the stayers award, then surely her effort to give her rivals a start and a beating in the Group One The BMW at Rosehill must have.

In what turned out to be the final race of her illustrious career, Ethereal stormed home in the 2400 metre race to gun down Universal Prince in the shadows of the post. Rain Gauge, who placed in the Australian Cup behind Old Comrade and Northerly, was third.

During the season Ethereal was also placed in two other stakes races including an eye catching third to Northerly and Shogun Lodge in the Group One Yalumba Stakes at Caulfield.

r7ethereal3.jpg (12889 bytes)Owned by Peter and Philip Vela, renowned for their fishing and ownership of New Zealand Bloodstock, Ethereal was retired to the brothers' Pencarrow Stud after her BMW win.

During the season she start nine times for three wins and three placings, netting connections some $4,474,069, adding on to the $288,066 she'd earned in her first preparation as a three-year-old.

Sky Heights, the gallant gelding who'd chased Ethereal home in the Caulfield Cup, must also come into consideration for the award.

A Caulfield Cup winner in 1999, it looked as though he was going to add his name to a rare list of multiple winners, only to be denied by about an inch and a half by the promising New Zealand mare.

r6skyheights.jpg (17165 bytes)Following his narrow second in the Caulfield classic, Sky Heights was sent out favourite in the Melbourne Cup. The gelding was never a winning chance, getting well back in the field and bottled up in traffic before working home stylishly late to finish eighth.

Connections decided the gelding still had a good run left in him, so they decided to back up and run in the half million dollar Sandown Classic over 2400 metres. On a dead track jockey Damien Oliver sent the gelding straight to the front and he was never headed.

At the post he held a two and a quarter length advantage over the kiwis King Keitel and Cinder Bella, in what was one of the strongest Classics held in the recent years.

One of Australia's most popular horses, the Colin Alderson trained Sky Heights has an impressive record of having won 11 of his 37 starts for stakes earnings of $4,212,990.

To view the profiles and records of both contenders click here.

My vote went to Ethereal.

PICS - Quentin Lang.

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