The highlight of Wednesday evening’s racing at Raceclubs was the Ladbrokes sponsored Monthly League Challenge Qualifier which attracted a wide-open full-sized field of fourteen, six of which were making their racecourse debuts in this $100 added-money event.
Of those with racecourse experience, slowstables‘ colt Priego De Cordoba brought probably the best previous form to the table having taken a fine third place finish behind Emprise To Avalon in the Ladbrokes Challenge Final at the end of August. That had been over 3200m on the firm turf though, very different conditions than today’s 2400m over the muddy dirt track and Priego De Cordoba was never able to get into the race, trailing home in eleventh of the fourteen although to be fair he did not get a great deal of assistance from the saddle.
In the end, it was three newcomers who were to battle out the finish. Sky Castle Stables had entered three and it was the best of these that was to come out on top. Veandercrosse showed no sign of his inexperience and displayed great resolve under Wayne Bailey to see off Al Mighty‘s Royal Bluff. Enrique Iglesias took third for owner, shotgun_mike.
Later in the evening, the best of the crop of three year old stayers took to the track for the St Leger Challenge Qualifiers. The fillies event was over the maximum 3200m trip, emphasized still further by the stamina-sapping muddy ground. Hardly surprising then that the finish would involve two titanicaly talented fillies, shotgun_mike’s El Legandario, last season’s winner of the Stayers Challenge Final Juvenile and Sky Castle Stables’ Dusk Til Dawn, already the winner of two qualifiers this season. Perhaps inspired by a lacklustire performance in the previous race, Taz Rowley made amends and saw El Legandario home in a tight finish ahead of Dusk Til Dawn. Unconte Stable’s Never Yield always looked held but stayed on dourly for third.
On paper, the St Leger Challenge Qualifier for 3yo Fillies appeared to be between the consistent pair of The Outsiders‘ Dolcezza and shotgun_mike’s Poetic Yesterday, both of whom had regularly brought in big money checks for their owners throughout their juvenile careers. Perhaps conditions were less than ideal for them on this occasion but they were only able to manage fourth and fifth place respectively.
It had taken Victor Consortio’s black filly, Allison six starts before she finally got off the mark and she had not managed to get her head in front again in a further eight subsequent starts. There is no doubt that Allison has been highly tried in each of those events, every single one at the top level and although she had often perforned with credit it would be fair to say that few would have predicted her to score here. Not only did she win though but she did so with style. Jockey Fabio Valentino had the race well under control some way from home as Allison easily accounted for Sky Castle Stables’ Xtreme Diva by in excess of one length with Bradlite‘s Black Or White a further half length back in third.