Barb Raider grips on in entertaining Kewney Stakes

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The Jerome Hunter-trained Barb Raider backed up her first-up performance by scoring a win in the Group 2 Kewney Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.

The daughter of Rebel Raider turned in another terrific performance after winning the Group 3 Vanity Stakes (1400m) at the same venue three weeks ago when first-up from a spell.

Jockey Craig Williams continued his successful association with the Mornington-trained filly. He took her forward to settle outside the lead in the early stages of the race, before eventually fighting off the leader in the final 100m and holding on to score a narrow win from the fast-finishing race-favourite Argentia.

An emotional Hunter spoke with after the race.

“It’s fantastic. I was a bit emotional a couple of weeks ago but just trying to hold it back now,” he said.

“Great to get a horse like this. To get a homebred for the owners is fantastic.”

A trip to Sydney for the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) could now be on the cards for the filly.

“We’ll go home and have a think about it, but it is very enticing. I do know that she likes the wet as well so looking at Sydney, it’d be nice.”

Hunter was more confident this time around that his galloper could handle the step up to the Oaks distance after electing not to run her in the VRC Oaks (2500m) last Spring.

“Last preparation I could see her have a kick and that worried me whether she’d be a out and out stayer, but this time round I’ve held a bit more strength in her. You have to have a throw at the stumps if she keeps improving.”

Williams was thankful for getting the opportunity to ride the talented filly.

“I’m very fortunate. Jerome and his team present a really nice filly to me. They do all the work behind the scenes. The owners give the support and I’m just the rider for her,” he said.

“Drawing the outside barrier is never ideal in a set weights race and we had Plan A and Plan B and I’m lucky enough that I got the right horse to execute.”

Williams indicated that the galloper had matured since her last preparation.

“She was quite raw back then. Right now she’s handling things a whole lot better. She goes to the gates on her own. It’s just been a matter of process and the time that Jerome has decided to take with her and you can see the benefits of it now.

“When she had her first jump out, he’s had a long, slow process with her so he really knows her inside and out. He’s done a remarkable job with a really nice filly.”

Barb Raider is rated an $11 chance with Sportsbet to take out the Australian Oaks at Randwick on April 9.

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