Blue Diamond, Golden Slipper: Australia’s Hot 2 Year Olds
Exceed And Excel
Unbeaten colt Performer gave his G1 Golden Slipper Stakes prospects another boost, along with those of his sire Exceed And Excel, with a hard-fought victory in the G3 Canonbury Stakes at Rosehill on 3 February.
Performer survived a tight finish to score by a nose from Stratosphere in a run that is expected to vastly improve him.
After winning in Listed company on debut last spring, Performer became the nominal favourite for the Golden Slipper, the world’s richest two-year-old race, and confirmed his place among the leading chances with his latest win.
Exceed And Excel sired the 2013 Golden Slipper winner Overreach and also has second placings in the race to his credit thanks to the Godolphin pair Earthquake and Sidestep.
Performer is from the Snippets mare Gavroche and is a half-brother to the G1 Galaxy winner Bel Sprinter from a family that also includes the Australian G1 and multiple French Stakes winner Always Aloof.
Performer’s Rosehill victory completed an Australasian Stakes double on the day for Exceed And Excel whose New Zealand-bred filly Excelleration scored her third win on end in the Listed Dunedin Guineas at Wingatui.
Excelleration conceded the leaders a long start and was forced to the outside fence turning for home but still had something to spare on the line, easily accounting for Global Thinking.
Performer and Excelleration are among 143 Stakes winners for Exceed And Excel.
A full sister to Golden Slipper and Blue Diamond place-getter Lake Geneva, royally bred filly Ennis Hill (2f Fastnet Rock x Hips Don’t Lie, by Stravinsky) staked her claim for Group I glory with a dominant win over the colts in the Group III MRC Chairman’s Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.
Trained by the Hayes Dabernig partnership for a Coolmore syndicate, Ennis Hill disappointed when beaten into fourth on debut at the same venue back in December, but made amends with this bold showing.
Fitted with blinkers for this assignment, she jumped fast for Steve Baster and led all the way to win the 1000 metre scamper by a length and a half.
“At home, early days, we thought she was our best but then Long Leaf and a couple of others came along but she’s up there with them,” Ben Hayes said.
“With the blinkers on, she really woke up and never looked like losing. I think it was race experience as well (that helped), she broke better (from the gates) and they went quick too.
“She did it at both ends, which is always a good sign.”
While the Chairman’s Stakes victory was an important black type win for the valuable filly, the $90,000 winner’s cheque all but guaranteed Ennis Hill a Blue Diamond Stakes berth.
Hayes said Ennis Hill would go into the Blue Diamond Stakes on February 24 without another run.
“She’s super exciting and it’s just great to have another live chance in the Blue Diamond,” he said.
Foaled and raised at Coolmore and retained to race, Ennis Hill is the fifth winner from five foals to race from former brilliant juvenile stakes-winners Hips Don’t Lie, winner of the Group II STC Reisling Stakes.
Hips Don’t Lie has a yearling colt by Fastnet Rock and was covered by him again last spring.
Named for England’s Olympic Champion and three-time World Champion athlete Jessica Ennnis-Hill, Ennis Hill is the 128th stakes-winner for Fastnet Rock, who has 39 entries for the upcoming Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale and six for Inglis Classic.
Fastnet Rock is enjoying a purple patch with his two year-olds who also include unbeaten Blue Diamond contender Long Leaf and Karaka Million winner Avantage.