Outstanding Kiwi mare Probabeel has rocketed to equal favouritism for the $A5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) with a resounding victory in the Gr.1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Despite travelling wide throughout, Probabeel swept down the middle of the track and proved too good for another top mare in Perth star Arcadia Queen, who also came from well back to finish second.
The pair are now joint $4 favourites for the All-Star Mile at Moonee Valley in three weeks, in what shapes as another mouth-watering clash, with third and fourth placegetters Mr Quickie and Behemoth facing a daunting task of taking on the star mares again.
Ridden by Damian Lane, the hoop praised Probabeel for her tenacity and class as she put a quality field to the sword.
It was the third Group One win for the daughter of Savabeel, who had previously won the Gr.1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) in spring and the Gr.1 Surround Stakes (1600m) as a three-year-old.
"She's so versatile. She jumped well and I brought her back. I put her in the race early and not many horses can sustain a sprint from as far out as she did," Lane said.
"That's why I asked her early to get on top of them, on top of Behemoth at least. What would take you 100 metres at least, took me about 20 metres.
"I was worried about the cavalry I was pulling into the race on my back. I was lucky she was so tough and the quality of the race was another level from what you saw last start.
"She was too good. She's just so classy and a pleasure to ride."
The win was another fillip for 31-year-old trainer Jamie Richards and the Te Akau Racing team, with Richards notching the 40th Group One win of his career.
Probabeel, who sports the colours of Cambridge Stud’s Brendan and Jo Lindsay, was purchased by Te Akau supremo David Ellis CNZM for $380,000 out of the Waikato Stud draft at the 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Yearling Sale.
She has now won ten of her 21 starts with a further 6 placings and has earnings approaching A$3 million.
With COVID-19 restrictions making it impractical for Richards to travel to Australia at present, the ace trainer watched the race from a close friend’s wedding back home in New Zealand.
“It was absolutely incredible,” Richards said.
“She was caught wide from an awkward draw. We thought we might be a chance to get one off the fence but Frosty (Damian Lane) wasn’t able to find that spot and she sat deep and when she quickened, she really let go.
“I’d like to give a big thank you to Ashley Handley who is over there and has spent much of the last 12 months travelling around Australia with her and it is a real team effort.
“I am so thrilled for Brendan and Jo Lindsay, who have been such big supporters of the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry and buying Cambridge Stud. They go to the yearling sales and buy nice fillies to add to their broodmare band and I have become really close with Henry Plumptre (Cambridge Stud chief executive), who has got a world of knowledge.
“I am thrilled for all concerned.”
Richards said the mare had really come on from her soft first-up win in the Gr.3 Geoffrey Bellmaine Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield a fortnight ago and it is full steam ahead to the All-Star Mile.
“Three weeks now into the All-Star Mile has always been the plan,” Richards said.
“She got a lot of confidence from that win a fortnight ago and I am big believer in that.”
“The best thing about her is she is getting better as she gets older and I think that is a really good trait in New Zealand bred horses. She is by our champion sire Savabeel from a really good Waikato Stud family, bred by Mark Chittick and sold at Karaka to David Ellis.
“She is right up there with the best that we have trained. She is a wonderful mare.” – NZ Racing Desk