Stride perfect win by McDonald on Vergara

Mar 20, 2016

A stride perfect ride by pick-up rider James McDonald on the Anthony Cummings trained Vergara won the $150,000, Group 3 Nathan’s Famous Epona Stakes (1900m) for fillies and mares at Rosehill on Saturday.

Daniel Moor had traffic problems in making Rosehill and McDonald stepped in to ride the mare. From the outset he had Vergara in the lead and that was where they stayed. Cummings said he was worried a couple of times that McDonald was out in front too early, but very pleased that he had it timed it to perfection at the line.

Down the back straight Vergara (55kg) bowled along in front with 3/4L to usual front runner All Cerise (54kg) and Dwayne Dunn with 2L to Skyline Bush (54kg) and Kerrin McEvoy leading the rest.

The field closed approaching the home turn but still McDonald had Vergara in front. All Cerise made a challenge, but could not sustain it, and Vergara was out in front with a 2L buffer. All eyes turned to the $3.80 favourite Heavens Above (56kg) and Tye Angland as they commenced a run in the middle of the track.

Heavens Above lead the charge from the field, but they had a job in front of them with McDonald keeping Vergara in the zone, and the mare maintained her pace to take a half-neck win.

Heavens Above (Street Cry) held out Sweet Fire (Sharmardal) (54kg) and Tommy Berry for second with the margin a neck. Alegria was fourth and with Piamimi fifth.

The time was 1.50.83 on the upgraded Good 4 track with the final 600m in 35.30. Vergara paid $13.00 on fixed odds and $14.90 on the tote.

“It was a really well judged ride by James (McDonald), he took the speed out of it and took the main chances out of it," said Cummings.

“I thought All Cerise might have put a bit more pressure on the race but she sat back off us and it really handed the lead up to the leader and that was us.

“She has come back a better mare this time and today was the first time this preparation she has been able to get on the bit and travel and it was a well rated ride by James and she did the rest.

“There is no pain involved (putting on James McDonald) but Daniel advised us on going to the 1900m after her last run and it was his advice as much as any that got us here and it’s a shame he couldn’t take the ride today.

“There are a few nice races for her throughout the Randwick carnival so we will have a look at that, this will probably be her last racing season so she will go through to the Brisbane over a similar staying trip and maybe something like the Hollindale Stakes,” he said.

“It was a good, tough effort, she had to do it the hard way," said McDonald.

“I wasn’t going to pull against her, there is no point in the two of us fighting each other. She relaxed reasonably well down the side and then picked it up from the 600m. She was tough and too good for them," he said.

Vergara was backing up from a ninth place in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic over 1500m last week and she was fourth in both her earlier runs this campaign in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes over 1200m on February 13th and the Group 2 Guy Walter Stakes over 1400m on February 27th.

This was the eighth win for Vergara, a five-year-old by Snippetson out of the Flying Spur mare Grace Spirit, and her second black type win after earlier winning the listed Mona Lisa Stakes at Wyong. She has now earned stakes of $385,445 for owners, Cummings and his wife Barbara under their Anthony Cummings Thoroughbreds banner, and PC Racing Investments Syndicate managed by PJ Carroll.

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