Unbeaten filly Travelling Light snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in Saturday’s Group 3 Barneswood Farm Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie, earning clear favouritism for next month’s Group 1 gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton.
Bred and raced by Coll MacRury and his father Ian, Travelling Light was rated a $151 chance for the fillies’ classic when the market opened earlier this season. That price was slashed to $8 following brilliant victories in her first two starts, including a six-length romp at Matamata two weeks ago. Now, after Saturday’s Soliloquy heroics, the El Roca filly sits at the top of the market at $3.20.
Travelling Light began awkwardly in Saturday’s fillies’ feature but recovered into a midfield position behind the front-running First Rock. The pace slackened down the side of the track and the field bunched up, leaving Travelling Light trapped behind a wall of horses rounding the home turn.
When jockey Sam Collett found her way into clear air, Travelling Light’s perfect record was hanging by a thread. There were many lengths to make up and less than half of the home straight left to do it. But she worked through her gears and stretched out superbly in the last 150 metres, wearing down Bavella in the final strides to snatch victory by a half-head.
Jennifer Eccles made up good ground wide out on the track for third. “It’s a bit of a relief,” trainer Ben Foote said. “This was her biggest test, but I’ve always had a high opinion of her and thought she was going to be hard to beat today. “But the way the race was run, when she got into a bit of trouble, I was worried. After she missed the kick, then got held up when they slowed the pace, I really didn’t think we’d get there.”
The Soliloquy was the ninth black-type success of Foote’s training career, and his second-biggest. He won the Group 2 Concorde Handicap (1200m) with Ego in 2010. Now the Cambridge trainer is turning his attention to even bigger things – the New Zealand 1000 Guineas at Riccarton on November 16.
Travelling Light will attempt to follow in the footsteps of last year’s Soliloquy winner Media Sensation, who added the 1000 Guineas in her next start. “As long as everything goes well from here, we’ll be there for sure,” Foote said. Soliloquy placegetters Bavella and Jennifer Eccles lost no admirers with their performances, with Bavella’s 1000 Guineas odds tightening from $8 to $7 and Jennifer Eccles from $12 to $9.