High-class mare Atishu (Savabeel) claimed her second Group One victory when running out a comfortable winner of the Gr.1 Champions Stakes (2000m) at Flemington under a well-executed James McDonald ride.
A dominant winner of the Gr.1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) in autumn, the daughter of Savabeel had run a mighty race when chasing home Pride Of Jenni into second in last week’s Gr.1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m).
The six-year-old mare again came from back in the field to defeat Duais by a length and three-quarters, with Tavistock gelding Young Werther again showing his liking for the Flemington circuit when finishing third.
Prepared by Chris Waller, Atishu sports the colours of Albert Bosma’s Go Racing, with Kiwi syndicators enjoying a stellar day, given Imperatriz had scored a Group One victory for Te Akau Racing earlier in the day in the Champions Sprint (1200m).
Champion trainer Chris Waller was delighted to win the Champions Stakes (formerly Mackinnon Stakes) for the first time in its 155th running.
“Winning any race this week is special. It’s not a race we have been overly strong in (previously) and coming into today I didn’t know what to expect,” he said.
“I think she should have won a Group One on the first day - we all think that as owners and trainers when we don’t win.
“To see Pride Of Jenni come out and blow them way in the race before (Gr.1 Champions Mile), I guess that gave us a little bit of confidence.
“Atishu backed up similarly last year. She won the Matriarch (Gr.2, 2000m) on this day last year and has gone to a whole new step today.”
Winning rider James McDonald was convinced Atishu deserved another elite-level win on her CV.
“Horses don’t run that well as she did last week and not win so to run second behind a horse that franked the form in the previous, when I walked out to Chris for the instructions I said, ‘we’re on a winner, I reckon’,” McDonald said.
“The way the circle track has been playing, it is hard to make up ground but when it happens like that with the pace generated early, we bided our time and produced the goods.
“Her progress has been phenomenal. She’s beautifully bred by Savabeel, stays well, stays the ten furlongs beautifully and she’s as tough as boots.”
Atishu transferred to Waller as a multiple stakes winner for trainer Stephen Marsh in New Zealand as a three-year-old.
Bred by Waikato Stud, Atishu is by their champion sire Savabeel out of the No Excuse Needed mare Posy, who won two races and is a sister to the former Champion Three-Year-Old and multiple Group One winner Daffodil.
Atishu is a sister to the Waikato Stud-raced Mazzolino, who won the Gr.3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) for trainer Stephen Marsh earlier this year.
Albert Bosma’s Go Racing went to $260,000 to secure Atishu as a yearling from Waikato Stud’s 2019 Karaka Book 1 draft.
The victory capped another bumper day for New Zealand breeders, with Imperatriz bred by Raffles Farm, Pride Of Jenni bred by Trelawney Stud and Atishu bred by Waikato Stud.