Cannyescent impresses in maiden win for Sona Bloodstock

Racing Online - Horse Racing News - Cannyescent impresses in maiden win for Sona Bloodstock

Sona BloodstockIT started with a simple Facebook post.

And it's now become a stable full of Sona Bloodstock-owned Gabrielle Englebrecht-trained youngsters that are destined to be the next generation of Australian thoroughbred stars.

Chief among them is the three year old Cannyescent, which broke through for its maiden victory in its first start at on Tuesday.

With jockey Kathy O'Hara on board, her instructions from Englebrecht were simple – “keep him out of trouble”.

And that's exactly what she did, riding the progeny of Canny Lad and Juicy to a length and a half win, easing down, netting it $13,200 in prize money in the process.

Englebrecht was over the moon about the result in Cannyescent's first start and pleased with the jockey's ride.

“Kathy sat back three wide on him early and the main instruction to her – thinking that we were the best horse in race – was to keep him out of trouble,” Englebrecht said.

Watch the race yourself here:

“We've got ambitions for him to get over a bit further ground later, so there was no need to muscle him and put him up on the speed.

“It was all about getting him to settle, relax and get into rhythm and then produce his best sprint at end.

“He got on the bridle at the 500 and cracked into the race, then just went past them.

“She (O'Hara) never once hit him with a back hander or pulled the stick.

“She just gave him a couple of taps down the shoulder and he went past them.

“It was a very easy win, she reckons she never got to the bottom of him at all, she hardly touched him.

“She said she would have won by four or five if she kept at him.”

Englebrecht said Cannyescent was “something special”.

“It's exciting!” she said.

“When they win first up like that you know you've got something special.

“I was really happy with the ride.

“It was a funny ride – he was drawn slightly awkwardly and they didn't go as quick as I would have liked, but I would have rather he be where he was than get into trouble and have a stop start run.

“To build his confidence up he just needs to keep rolling and get into his rhythm because that's where he's most effective, I think.”

The 29 year old up and coming trainer said she was always confident heading into the race.

“But there's always that part of you that is conservative,” she said.

“I've been in racing all my life – I've seen lots of horses win barrier trials and not bring it on race day.

“I didn't think it would be the case he's very professional, he's a very genuine kind of horse.

“But you are aware it is another step up to race day and you just want everything to go right for him and have it pan out the way you want it to.

“I was nervous, but i was also very confident that if he ran to his ability he would win the race.”

Cannyescent
Cannyescent is the darling of its stable and proving an exciting find for Sona Bloodstock.

The confidence boosting win has the trainer now targeting the Group 3 at Randwick on August 22.

“We'll nominate him and I'll monitor him between now and then to see how much he's improved and how he's come through that first run,” she said.

“They're things to consider.

“Kathy has a very of him and we'll have discussions with her and with Kevin.

“We figure he's only going to have a light preparation this time in and we think he's going to be a better horse in the autumn.

“To get a bit of a guide on him, test him out a little bit more and see what he's capable of, I think it's worth a crack.

When quizzed on what the future holds for Cannyescent, Englebrecht is coy, using the old chestnut of “one race at a time”.

“After the Up and Coming, I'd be keen to put him in paddock and give him a bit of a rest,” she said.

“He's still very physically raw, immature, he doesn't have much of a bum on him at this stage, there's a lot of developing he needs to do.

“Two starts will see him out and then we'll go to the paddock and have a nice spell on spring grass.”

She said Cannyescent would target autumn, but the races he competes in would be shaped by how he performs – and recovers – after the Up and Coming and his spell.

“We've got a few races in mind, but we haven't locked in a plan yet, we'll just take it race by race at this stage,” she said.

Englebrecht may not have locked in a plan yet, but don't tell the owner.

Cannyescent is owned by Sona Bloodstock and its primary shareholder, Kevin Pitstock.

Pitstock told this writer he had “always had a high opinion” of Cannyescent.

High enough opinion to back him to win the Golden Slipper in 2014 with various bookies – at a return of a lazy $2.5 million each way.

Yes. $2,500,000 each way. Count the zeroes.

The biggest bets were $2000 each way with crownbet.com.au at $201 and $2250 each way at $201 with sportsbet.com.au.

He also said he's plunged on Cannyescent to win the – at 300 to 1.

The $1000 each way he wagered brought its price at sportsbet.com.au in to $51.

“We're not sure if we'll get into the Rose, but we think he's capable of measuring up.”

That's an owner with supreme confidence in his trier.

And he also has supreme confidence in the “fantastic team” of trainer and stable jockey O'Hara.

“Gabrielle has guided Canny's career so far with the astute professionalism we expected,” Pitstock said.

“Kath has not put a foot wrong on him.”

Englebrecht hails from a family of trainers, based at Warwick Farm.

She says the stables have no name, but we're going to ordain them as the Englebrecht Stables. Not so original, but very fitting for the path that she is set to forge, following in the foot steps of her parents and grandparents, including her 81 year old grandmother Rita, who still trains horses today.

She learnt much from veteran trainer , who sadly passed away last year, and said she would have his teachings in mind when prepping Cannyescent.

“Guy Walter was my neighbour for 20 years when I was growing up in Warwick Farm and there were so many times when he took horses out to Goulburn to win their maiden,” she said.

“These were group level horses and they went on to win group races.

“He used to get them up, little bit by little bit, and he had a great record doing that.

“If there's one thing I've learnt from him it's to start low and take it race by race and get to know your horses and what they're made of and work out a good program based on that.”

Englebrecht says Cannyescent is one of the best horses she has trained.

“Dailika, she won at and she was probably a length off being listed class and she was a really handy horse,” she said.

“She also won her first start quite impressively – at a minimum, I'd say he's (Cannyescent) as good as her, if not better.

“I think he's a different style of horse to her.

“I think there's probably more improvement in him at the same stage of his career, so I think he will probably end up being better than her and I think the future is looking very bright for him.”

Cannyescent is the most-loved nag in the Englebrecht stable.

“He is so easy – he has got the most beautiful, gentle, kindest nature you've ever seen, he's just magic,” she said.

“Being a young horse, along the way he lacks a little bit of confidence, I guess you'd say, but he doesn't have a bad bone in his body and all he wants to do is please you.

“He's an absolute to train

“All my staff over him. Everyone loves riding him and everyone loves doing anything with him.

“They dote on him.

“He's a little bit spoiled – we spoil him but we are also mindful we don't want him to be too soft – he's still got a job to do race day.

“He gets his fair share of attention.”

Cannyescent, along with the as yet-unraced Murtasteel, were the first Pitstock owned horses to make their way into the Englebrecht stable.

But the story behind the genesis of the burgeoning relationship with owner Pitstock and trainer Englebrecht underlines the power of social media.

“I use social media pretty heavily, I guess it's a bit of my generation and a bit of my personality,” Englebrecht said.

“I posted on Facebook that I was off to the June winter sales and that I was looking to find a couple of nice horses there,” she said.

“As I was leaving the sale complex, Kevin rang me up and he's like, ‘hi, my name is Kevin, I read your Facebook post, I've just bought two horses online, would you mind going to have a look at them for me and just seeing what they're like and what you think of them?'.

“And I was like, ‘yep, no problem at all'.

“We spoke briefly on the two horses, I liked the look of them both and I thought they were nice horses that needed time to mature.

Cannyescent
Gabrielle Englebrecht (left), Kevin Pitstock (middle) and the Sona Bloodstock team celebrate Cannyescent's debut win.

“I was pretty up front and honest about what I thought of each one and a week later we made arrangements to have them in my stable.

“It just goes to show the strength of social media these days and what it can .”

She said the mutual interest in racing kept her in contact with Pitstock – and that led to more potential stars landing in her stables.

“Being young horses at that time, they (Cannyescent and Murtasteel) weren't doing much in the early stages and Kevin and I would be on the phone just chatting about racing in general,” she said.

“Kevin mentioned he wanted to buy a few yearlings from the Magic Millions, so we did our homework and we bought four outstanding yearlings.

“All four are very nicely-bred, very athletic individuals and I can't speak highly enough of them.

“We bought those and then we bought again at the Patinack Dispersal Sale; we bought at the Inglis Classic Sale, the Easter Sale and then the Premier Sale, so now we've got a good team together.”

“A few of them are going to Mitch Newman out at Hawkesbury.”

She speaks glowingly of Pitstock.

“Kevin's put a lot of faith in me and a lot of faith in my stable,” she said.

“He's a great bloke and we both exchange our opinions and come to good decisions with the horses.

“It's a huge credit to Kevin that he is trusting two young trainers (she and Newman) with his horses and giving us a go.

“It's a big thing for us and a really generous thing of Kevin to do to give us a chance to make our mark in the industry.”

This looks like the start of a long and very fruitful relationship.

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