Stellarta set for Newmarket
The new EBF Breeders' Fillies Series comes to a climax at Newmarket's Rowley Mile Racecourse on Saturday when a total of £200,000 is up for grabs in the last four of its 20 races – all £50,000 open handicaps over six, eight, ten and 12 furlongs.
Newmarket stage another valuable card on Saturday
The instigation of these valuable events has been rewarded with no fewer than 50 fillies and mares declared to take part in the four races, three of which will be televised live on Channel Four.
The Series has been specifically designed to give valuable opportunities to those fillies that fall just below black type level, encouraging their owners and owner-breeders to keep them in training rather than sell them for export or retire them.
Four of the 50 runners are eligible for a special Thoroughbred Breeders' Association (TBA) bonus – an extra prize of £25,000 in the form of a nomination voucher for a British-based stallion available to any British-bred filly, owned by a current member of the TBA, who wins on Saturday having notched a top three finish in an earlier Series race.
Those eligible for the bonus are Michael Blanshard's Stellarta in the British EBF Fillies' Series Sprint Hancdicap (over six furlongs); Roger Varian's Sharja Queen and the Ralph Beckett-trained Sightline in the British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Series Middle Distance Handicap (1m 2f); and David O'Meara's Lustrousin the EBF Fillies' Series #thisfillycan Handicap (1m4f).
Stellarta has been a standard bearer for Blanshard's Lambourn yard this term, winning three times and finishing in the money on six other occasions.
She qualified for the bonus by staying on strongly into second place behind Kassia in the most recent leg of the Series, at Pontefract on September 15th, and, raised 2lbs in the handicap to a career high mark of 93, must shoulder top weight of 9st 10lb and Blanshard is concerned about the burden she has to carry.
"I am a bit worried that she might have too much weight on Saturday, as she is not very big, so I'd have preferred it if the weights hadn't gone up," he said.
"Stellarta is a very tough filly who has won seven races for me – I only wish that I had a few more like her.
"When she finished last at Salisbury earlier this month she saw a lot of daylight and that's not her game – she needs to come through horses.
"She has never stopped improving all year, both physically and ability-wise, having started on the all-weather in January, and the fast ground and big field on Saturday are exactly what she wants as she needs cover."
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