Friday, September 9, 2011

Alanza oozes class in Sceptre Stakes victory

John Oxx has always been very selective with the few horses he sends over to run in Britain, so it was something of a tip in itself that he chose to run Alanza in the Group 3 Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster on Thursday. The filly duly obliged under a fine ride from the irrepressible Johnny Murtagh,

Sent off the 11/4 second-favourite behind the Sir Henry Cecil-trained 5/2f Chachamaidee, Alanza settled well through the first half of the contest before being asked to make her move towards the pace setters two furlongs from home. With Chachamaidee and Dever Dream duelling at the distance, Murtagh asked the Aga Khan's homebred filly to make her effort between horses and the manner of her change of gear left experienced race watchers in little doubt that the daughter of Dubai Destination is more than capable of holding her own at a higher level. Those contemplating the date of the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2012 should bear this in mind.

The eventual winning margin of a neck over Dever Dream (with a head back to Chachamaidee), barely reflects the amount in hand the winner appeared to have under the former Irish champion jockey. Even though the horse will never be a Grand National winner, even those who follow National Hunt racing will have been impressed by the performance.

Interviewed immediately after his victory, Murtagh was quick to praise Alanza and suggested that she would be even better next year if connections decide to keep her in training. Thursday's victory was Alanza's third from only five starts having won on her only outing at Listowel as a juvenile before filling third place at Leopardstown on her seasonal bow then coming off third best in a bunch finish to a listed contest at Naas in July. Wins at Cork and Tipperary in listed company in recent weeks proved that Oxx's filly was on song, and the sky now looks the limit after she completed the hat-trick in such style.

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