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Caulfield trainer Mick Price warned us before Christmas of what to expect yesterday in the Listed Blue Diamond Previews at his home track, but most of us didn’t listen, or forgot or got caught up in the hype over other highly-fancied runners.
When Price’s filly Samaready (br f 2, More Than Ready (USA)-Samar, by Secret Savings (USA)) won at Flemington on December 17, Price indicated she was a one of a number of promising two-year-olds he was aiming at the Blue Diamond series.
After the Flemington race, Price said: “I thought she might be a bit underdone. I thought she looked a little tubby in the mounting yard and I said to the guys (owners) if she was to win today there is a lot of improvement in her. She’s a genuinely good filly, she has a great temperament and I’m pointing her to the Blue Diamond.”
He then added that he had “a couple of” youngsters every bit as promising as Samaready, who wouldn’t be produced until the traditional Blue Diamond Stakes lead-up races at Caulfield.
Out stepped the Price-trained Malasun (b f 2, Red Ransom (USA)-Malapert, by Encosta De Lago), at $8.50, to win yesterday’s fillies’ division of the Blue Diamond Preview (1000m) and producing a performance that suggests Price will play a strong hand in the $1 million Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at February 25. The filly was Price’s only runner in the two divisions of the Previews.
Malasun, bought for $80,000 by BC3 Thoroughbreds at the 2011 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, tracked the pace, set by odds-on favourite Sweet Little Lies (by Elusive Quality (USA)), before she unleashed a strong finish to beat Members Joy (Hussonet (USA)) and Sabie (Exceed And Excel) and a weakening Sweet Little Lies, who had firmed from $1.85 to $1.70 on the strength of an easy first-start Caulfield win on January 7. Trainers Mat Ellerton and Simon Zahra have reported that Sweet Little Lies is shin sore and will be spelled.
Malasun, described by jockey Damien Oliver as the ideal, mature, strong “jump and run two-year-old”, had won three jump-out trials at Caulfield before her debut. “We knew she had the speed—she led in all her trials—but today it was good to see her settle behind the pace,” Oliver said.
Price will be hoping Malasun can give him his first Blue Diamond Stakes—a race that sits heavy in his heart (and high in ambition) after leading in Roedean as the winner in 2003 only to lose it later due to a positive swab (Kusi was elevated to first place). He has previously won Previews with the fillies World Peace (2004, third behind Alinghi in the Blue Diamond) and Halibery (2003, second behind Kusi in the Blue Diamond) and also Preludes with Doubting (2005) and Halibery.
Malasun is from the second last crop of 90 foals of the wonderful stallion Red Ransom (by Roberto (USA)), who stood with distinction for 11 years at Vinery Stud, near Scone, in the Hunter Valley, until his death in August 2009. The closest Red Ransom has gone to producing a Blue Diamond winner was All American’s second behind stablemate Reaan in 2008.
Malasun is from the Encosta De Lago mare, Malapert, who also is the dam of the 2009 Group 2 Autumn Classic winner Stokehouse. The second dam, Brazenne (by The Pug (GB)), is a half-sister to the smart Listed Winter Championship winner Gay Tulip.
Interestingly, Encosta De Lago (by Fairy King (USA)) had a terrific 24 hours as a broodmare sire. He also is the sire of the dam of the Listed Zeditave Stakes winner Instinction (gr c 3, Exceed And Excel-De Lago Mist), also trained by Price, and the outstanding Dubai star, Musir (b h 5, Redoute’s Choice-Dizzy De Lago), who won the Group 2 Al Rashidiya Stakes (1900m) at Meydan.
The steely grey Instinction, who was sixth (behind Sepoy) in a Blue Diamond Prelude last year, is a colt on the up. He advanced from a Kyneton maiden win in October to win the Listed Hilton On The Park (1400m) at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup carnival. Price is aiming the colt for the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m, Flemington) in March.
Instinction tracked the pace and got through along the fence when the leader Petman (Lonhro) drifted wide. Caulfield Guineas fourth placegetter, Specter (Nadeem), returned from a break with an encouraging second, after following the winner through on the fence.
After the race, jockey Craig Newitt revealed that Instinction had performed well in the much-publicised jump-out trial behind the champion Black Caviar last week. “He stood her up 15 lengths and got beat five or six,” Newitt said. Oh, if we all had known that! (Competing horses are not named in unofficial trials.)
The Zeditave Stakes has been won by some high-class gallopers, including Blue Diamond winner Hurricane Sky (1995), Pins (2000), Not A Single Doubt (2005), Haradasun (2007) and Denman (2010), but only Pins has gone on to win the Guineas.
Price’s has won the Guineas twice—with Light Fantastic, also a grey, in 2008 and Heart of Dreams in 2009.
Photo: Red Ransom at Vinery.