Sam Collett celebrates as Astor completes an emphatic Mufhasa Stakes win.
Talented filly Astor scored an emphatic win in today's Listed Mufhasa FastTrack Stakes at Ellerslie, delivering a first black-type training success for her young trainer Cody Cole.
“This will mean a lot to Cody – I know how much work he’s done with this filly,” jockey Sam Collett said.
Previously trained by Danica Guy, Astor’s debut for Cole was a second placing to Melody Belle in the Gr. 3 Mongolian Khan Trophy in January. The Iffraaj filly returned to Ellerslie two weeks ago for an effortless win in a lower grade, scoring by three and three-quarter lengths.
Collett took advantage of Astor’s number-one gate today, going straight to the lead from the start of the 1300-metre event.
There were some nervous moments just after the home turn as she was tackled and headed by Caesour’s Dream, but Astor rose to the challenge. She clawed her way back to the lead and shook free to win by a length and three-quarters, with Collett fist-pumping as she passed the post.
“I wasn’t too worried when the other horse came up beside her – I knew she had plenty to offer,” she said. “She found that second kick, like good horses do.”
Raced by Gary Harding, Astor has now had eight starts for four wins, three placings and more than $86,000 in prize-money.
“It’s amazing to have a horse of this quality so early in my training career,” Cole said, with mother Lou standing proudly nearby.
“She’d been a bit funny in a stable environment, but she seemed very happy at the farm and Gary gave her to me to have a go. It’s great.
"She sometimes takes a little while to find that kick in the straight, but she went away from them very nicely late in the race.
“We’ll see how she comes through this before making any plans. We could look at the Wellington Guineas – the more black type we can get, the better. But it’s a big trip to Wellington, and that’s another two-week back-up. We’ll just wait and see.”
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Caesour’s Dream was second, with stablemate Ladynadel another length away third.
The field was led out by the 10-time Group One winner himself, Mufhasa, who is now 13 years old and galloped 200 metres for rider Sam Weatherley.
“I’m glad he wasn’t in the race,” Harding quipped.