Xpression (Sam Collett) runs down the favourite Espumoso to win the Wakefield Challenge Stakes.
Hastings trainers Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen have sprung big-race surprises at Trentham before, and they did it again this afternoon with the highly impressive filly Xpression in the Gr. 2 Randwick Meats Wakefield Challenge Stakes.
Lowry and Cullen won the Gr. 1 Telegraph with 80-to-one outsider Adventador in 2016, while Cullen also trained the shock Wellington Cup winner Miss Bailey in 1999.
Xpression was at less than a quarter of those odds today, but her breakout performance was no less jaw-dropping. She was stepping up to the big time only eight days after making her debut, a fast-finishing third to Bocce at Otaki.
Ridden by premiership leader Sam Collett, Xpression raced in midfield as favourites Espumoso and King Louis duelled for the lead.
The previously unbeaten Espumoso shook free of King Louis in the straight in what looked like a race-winning move, but Xpression changed gears and ran the $1.70 favourite down to score by half a length. The rest of the field, headed by Bit Lippy, finished three lengths behind the first pair.
Today’s $100,000 feature continued a strong run of form for Lowry and Cullen, who won the Gr. 1 Livamol Classic in October with Wait A Sec.
“This filly has always been an intelligent horse who takes everything in her stride,” Lowry said. “She settled down well after her debut run and learned a lot from it.
“Onwards and upwards from here, hopefully. She’s not eligible for the Karaka Million, so we might give her a bit of a break now and then look at something like the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes.
“But obviously black type is important for fillies in terms of their breeding potential, and she’s got that now.”
Bred and part-owned by Haunui Farm, the Showcasing filly is out of the Don Eduardo mare Xpress – a half-sister to Showcasing’s Karaka Million-winning son Hardline.
"We've had a good relationship with Mark Chitty, and he put a group of mates together to race this filly from our stable," Lowry said.
A full-sister to Xpression will be offered in Book 2 of Karaka 2018.
The John Bary-trained King Louis was one of the most disappointing runners in the Wakefield, fading to finish outside the placings. But Bary had a much better result just over half an hour later as talented three-year-old Smokin’ Oak gave Collett three wins in a row. She and Bary had also combined to win the Chalmers Two Mile Premier with High Spirits.