Progressive three-year-old Atishu has left trainer Stephen Marsh in a bit of a quandary after she demolished her rivals to take out the Listed NZB Airfreight Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton.
The Savabeel three-year-old was sent out a red-hot favourite after she overcame a stumble leaving the starting gates at her most recent run to comprehensively down the majority of the race rivals she faced in Saturday’s black type feature.
This time there was no such sensation at the start, although rider Kozzi Asano was content to let her find her feet early on as the pair settled in the rear of the field for most of the race.
Asano got going on Atishu with 600m to run and she quickly looped the field before striking the front halfway down the Riccarton straight. Once Asano let the brakes go, Atishu dashed well clear, easing down to win by seven lengths with Exquisite Pearl and Lelawala doing the best of the rest to claim the minor placings.
Marsh was at home in Cambridge following the abandonment of racing at Te Aroha and admitted he had been absolutely rapt with the performance of the Go Racing Ring A Ring syndicate-owned filly.
“That was just amazing wasn’t it and she just put paid to them so quickly,” he said.
“She is very versatile and really coming into her own at the moment.
“Last time she ran on a rock-hard track and broke 32 seconds for the last 600m, whereas today the track was pretty wet and they ran a tick under 1.37 for the mile and she has done it on her ear.”
Marsh had been considering setting his charge for the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Warstep Stakes (2000m) at the venue in a fortnight but might have to set his sights a little higher now.
“I had her ready to go to for the Warstep in a fortnight, but the way she has won today, we might have to have a look at Brisbane for the Oaks (Group 1, 2200m) there instead.
“It’s something that I will need to speak with her owners about, but when she is absolutely flying, you’d be mad not to have a crack.
“The Warstep is a lovely race to win but an Oaks win or placing at Group One level adds a lot more value to her in the future.”
Bred by Waikato Stud, Atishu is by Savabeel out of a full sister to multiple Group One winner Daffodil with syndicators Go Racing outlaying $260,000 for the quality filly at the Book 1 Yearling Sale at Karaka 2019.
Marsh had already taken out the open sprint on the day with evergreen galloper Rocanto and went within inches of a second stakes victory when Belle Fascino finished close up in third behind Whale Song in the Listed Christchurch Casino Easter Cup (1600m).
“She is such a tough mare (Belle Fascino) and she has gone another super race today,” he said.
“I was yelling all the way down the straight as she looked like she could get there but, in the end, just came up a little short.
“She hasn’t got too many more runs in her before she is retired but we might take a look at the Canterbury Gold Cup (Group 3, 2000m) in a fortnight as her swansong.”