What a terrific filly Missy Longstocking has been for the Liam Birchley stable and her owner Judith Clairs, the tough and talented two-year-old proving that Sequalo - who is currently being prepared for his 17th season at stud - still has what it takes to produce a high class performer.
A six times winner from nine starts, Missy Longstocking won the Gr.3 B.J McLachlan Stakes and the Listed Calaway Gal Stakes late last year and during the recent Brisbane winter carnival has continued on her winning way.
Taking out the Listed Lancaster Stakes at Eagle Farm on May 18, Missy Longstocking was keenly fancied to carry on the good work in the Gr.2 Sires' Produce Stakes only to run into plenty of trouble - losing no fans finishing ninth beaten only five lengths with nothing going her way.
Again well supported on June 8 when contesting the Listed Hampden Stakes at the same track, Missy Longstocking rewarded her supporters with a gutsy performance to win her fourth race at black type level.
Donning blinkers for the first time, the chestnut over-raced for a stride or two early but then settled well for Damian Browne and when challenged late she just kept finding.
"I was going to go back and let the speed go but she began really well with the blinkers on and it really switched her on," Browne reported - "she travelled lovely throughout after that."
"She hasn't had much luck the last couple of times she has been beaten," he continued, adding that "she has been the benchmark two-year-old all season here so it was good to see her bounce back."
Missy Longstocking's success was part of a good recent run for the evergreen Sequalo whose other recent winners include Timmy's Turn (3 1/4 length maiden winner at only his second start), Phantomoftheopera (winner of two of his last three), Banchory Lass (last start Eagle Farm winner), Mr Thatcher, Platinum Lion (successful at two of his last three), Trail Boss (his ninth victory), The Storeman (another in-form galloper who has won two of last three), Amber Ale and Iona Fast One.
Saturday is the main day as far as racing is concerned at the latest one was a beauty for the always in-form Sequalo who was represented by five winners on five different tracks!
Headlining his great day was the in-form Seeking More who recorded a determined victory over 1110m at Doomben - his second gutsy win from as many starts this campaign.
Beaten only twice in six starts to date, the Kelso Wood trained three-year-old has not only pace but heart, digging deep when challenged over the final stages.
His win was especially meritorious when considering that he is still doing a fair bit wrong.
“He gets a bit nervous and hasn’t got the best temperament at the moment,” reported jockey Michael Cahill.
When he was behind the barriers before the race he was white with foam but it’s mostly due to inexperience.”
Over-racing during the middle stages of the race, Seeking More is winning despite himself!
“When he got behind the two leaders he raced a bit too fierce,' Cahill said, "he just needs to be a bit more relaxed."
Also in winning form for Sequalo on Saturday was Apache Gulf (1 1/2 length winner over 1212m at Bundaberg), Sequalo Revenge (soft 2 1/2 length winner over 1050m at Toowoomba), Seqsea (impressive four length Gold Coast winner over 1400m) and Turquoise Dragon who saluted over 1200m in Macau.
The success of Turquoise Dragon was part of a Macau double for Sequalo whose tough seven-year-old son Super Smile won first up at Taipa on Friday. Closer to home Sequalo had a new winner on the same day - Our Edge gamely breaking his maiden over 1400m at Ipswich.
In other Sequalo news, his exciting daughter Epsilon is back in pre-training with trainer Tony Gollan excited about her winter and spring carnival prospects - the San Domenico Stakes mentioned as a possible target.
We also have some sad Hidden Dragon news with his brilliant daughter Obsidian Dragon - a nine times winner of over $400,000 in stakes - succumbing to injury this week, subsequently retired.
Much loved by connections - "it was hard not to love a horse who always gave her all" - said part owner Jeff Collins, she will be retained as a broodmare. Meanwhile her two-year-old sister Ardere trialled quite well at Morphettville this week and is well regarded by the David & Ryan Balfour stable.
Lyndhurst Stud celebrated a home-bred metropolitan winner on Wednesday, the consistent Gotcha finding the line in determined style at Doomben.
Having his third run back from a spell, the Robert Heathcote trained five-year-old was deserving of his win having been sound without the best of luck at his first two runs this campaign.
A four times winner and eight times placed from 31 starts, Gotcha has been a fun horse for connections - three of his victories coming at Doomben and Eagle Farm.
Raced by Lyndhurst with Vicky Heathcote, R & K Smith, Adam Gordon Trevor Burr, Michael Kelly and Jacqueline Kelly, Gotcha is by the always in-form Sequalo from a solid black-type family.
The final foal produced by his dam Guten Tag who sadly died five years ago, Gotcha is a half-brother to the seven times winner Night Escort.
His dam was a half-sister to the Group Two winner Hello Darl and the Listed winning two-year-old Befriend. Other members of this familiy include the Group One winner Happy Sailing and the stakes winners Helm, Salty and Greeting.
Gotcha's success followed on the heels of another impressive Sequalo city winner last Saturday - the up-and-coming two-year-old Agitate.
Impressing saluting at Doomben in early March, the exciting Kelly Schweida trained colt olt did it just as easily at the same track last Saturday - racing away to an easy second victory from just three starts.
A member of Sequalo's in-form 13th crop - one that has also produced promising juveniles Missy Longstocking and Epsilon - Agitate again put on display his great natural speed, jumping straight to the front - and staying there!
Drawing clear over the final furlong to salute by a soft two lengths, Agitate showed that he is a horse to reckon with over the carnival, connections deciding which races to set him for after he contests another city sprint in a couple of week's time.
The Sequalo breed not surprisingly always prove popular in the sales ring and the evergreen stallion - whose current yearlings hail from his 14th crop - enjoyed good success at last week's Magic Millions QTIS Yearling Sale.
Eleven of his sons and daughters were sold for an average of over $30,000 with a top seller of $80,000 - an eye-catching son of the Canadian Silver mare Count The Silver secured by Toowoomba trainer Tony Sears.
Bred and sold by Lyndhurst Stud, the handsome bay (pictured) topped the second and final session of the sale. A full brother to the metropolitan winner Inventory, he is also a 3/4 brother to the speedy Listed winner Holding.
Tony Sears also purchased the fourth highest priced lot of the day - another Lyndhurst Stud bred Sequalo, a daughter of the More Than Ready mare Figure from the family of Champion 2Y0 Encounter.
Hidden Dragon - whose classy son Hidden Warrior resumes in Listed company at Rosehill on Saturday - also enjoyed a good sale with his top seller a $55,000 filly out of the stakes placed Lake Coniston mare Regal County purchased by Blue Sky Thoroughbreds.
The ever green Sequalo's current crop of two-year-olds - the result of his 13th season at stud - are in flying form with another winner, the impressive Agitate at Doomben on Saturday.
Racing away to an easy two length victory at only his second start, the Kelly Schweida trained colt became Sequalo's fifth individual juvenile winner for the season - from just eight runners!
Currently Australia's eighth leading two-year-old sire, Sequalo has also been well represented by the Group 3 winning Magic Milions placegetter Missy Longstocking, recent Doomben debutant winner Smart Operator and the highly regarded flyer Epsilon.
Expected to win at debut when sent out a hot $1.50 favourite at Ipswich on February 22, Agitate did not have much luck - getting involved in an early speed battle before being taken wide by a green rival at the turn.
Still doing a good job to finish in the placings, Agitate learned much from the outing and was never in any danger of defeat at Doomben - showing natural pace and heart easily holding off the favourite Grey Countess.
"We thought he would win at Ipswich," said jockey Ric McMahon, "but things just didn’t go his way."
Bred by his owners led by Anthony Havig, Agitate is the second foal and first winner produced by the city winning Align mare Stirring who was raced by a similar group.
A descendant of the Kentucky Oaks heroine Alcibiades - also ancestress of legendary racehorse and stallion Sir Ivor - the well named Agitate chose an apt day to win as he hails from the same family as Australian Cup winner in Noble Peer.
With a win in Saturday’s Group 1 $1 million Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) guaranteeing Spirit Of Boom victory in the inaugural G1 Sprint Championship and a $50,000 international travel subsidy, trainer Tony Gollan said an overseas trip with the stallion was certainly a consideration.
“I would certainly consider travelling him if he was to win the Newmarket,” Gollan said.
“He’s the right horse to travel, he’s a beautifully relaxed stallion who seems to adapt very well.
“My immediate thoughts are obviously the Newmarket and then perhaps the Goodwood, he’s a horse that I dearly want to get a Group 1 victory with.”
While he said it was all dependant on how the five-year-old son of Sequalo fared in Saturday’s G1 Sprint Championship final, Gollan nominated both Royal Ascot in June and the Group 1 Krisflyer Sprint (1200m) in Singapore in May as possible options.
“Royal Ascot would be a good option as long as it wasn’t wet, where as Singapore is normally firm and they tend to run along pretty quickly over there too which could possibly suit a horse like him,” he said.
Third at his first up run in the second leg of the series, the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate, Gollan said Spirit Of Boom had come through the run perfectly.
“I’m in Melbourne at the moment, the weather’s beautiful and I’ve seen the horse this morning and he’s trained on really well since his first up run,” he said.
“He was pretty well out of the race after they went 20 metres (in the Oakleigh Plate), he was checked and they just didn’t go as quickly as everyone expected.
“We’re just looking for a nice draw, hopefully he can draw in the middle somewhere and get a bit of cover because he can pull a bit if he’s drawn on either flank and exposed a little bit too early.”
Spirit Of Boom is currently priced at $26 with TAB for Saturday’s Newmarket Handicap with acceptances for the meeting to close at 10AM Wednesday.
by Ben Asgari, Racing Victoria