Spanish Whisper (Vinnie Colgan, inside) edges out She's A Thief (Jake Bayliss) after a titanic struggle in the Matamata Breeders' Stakes.
At the end of a two-horse war that could rival any seen across Australasia this season, Spanish Whisper edged out She’s A Thief by a nose to win today’s Gr. 2 J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes.
The pair went out as the two favourites for the $100,000 two-year-old fillies' feature, with She’s A Thief already well proven at black-type level, while Spanish Whisper’s two career starts had resulted in a win and a second to the subsequent Karaka Million winner Avantage.
Having both drawn in the outside half of the field, Spanish Whisper and She’s A Thief went forward in search of the lead but had to do plenty of work to get there. Even once they had reached the head of the field, neither filly gave the other a moment’s rest.
It was an energy-sapping duel that seemed likely to play into the hands of the backmarkers, but Spanish Whisper and She’s A Thief never stopped. They remained well clear of the rest of the field and fought tooth-and-nail down the home straight, neither giving an inch. They crossed the finish line locked together, impossible to separate by the naked eye, with the race eventually awarded to Spanish Whisper by a nose.
“She had to do a bit of work to get to the lead, so I’m really pleased with the way she fought it out,” said Peter Williams, who trains in partnership with his wife Dawn.
“In 1991 I came all the way up here with Richfield Lass. She missed the start and ran on late to be an unlucky third, so it’s nice to get the win this time.
“I’m pleased that this filly wasn’t eligible for the Karaka Million – we would have had to push her to get there, and it would have buggered her. That five to six-week break that she had has helped her a lot.
“Whether we go on or not with her now, I don’t know. She'll tell me. But I think she’ll make a better three-year-old.”
Spanish Whisper is raced by her breeders, Daniel and Elias Nakhle and Darren Brady, and she is the first New Zealand black-type winner for the internationally successful stallion Lope De Vega.
This was the first Breeders’ Stakes win for former Matamata apprentice Vinnie Colgan, who was also successful earlier in today’s programme with an excellent ride on Cote D’Or.
“Seven wasn’t a great gate in this race,” Colgan said. “She jumped well enough, but had to work for about the length of the back straight to get to the front.
“She didn’t really sprint turning for home, but she fought really hard. I saw how sweaty she was before the start and was a little bit worried, but it sounds like it’s quite natural for her.
“It was a really good win. She’s A Thief looked pretty smart with her wins earlier in the season and a good run in the Karaka Million, so we’ve beaten a good filly today.”
She’s A Thief’s co-trainer Pam Gerard was pleased with the Showcasing filly’s effort.
“The wide gate (11) didn’t help her, but she ran a really good race,” she said. “We saw two very good fillies in a great war down the straight. You can’t ask for much better.
“It was a tough run for our filly today, so we won’t make any decisions today on what we do next. But she’s a lovely filly who takes everything in her stride, and she’s just getting better and better.”
The Real Beel ran on into third, two and three-quarter lengths behind the first pair, and she was followed by Valalie and the first-starter Lady Lira.