The Filly Folly & Sweet Partnership's OPAL TIARA (Centre) - A winner under Oisin Murphy this afternoon
A super performance from The Filly Folly & Sweet Partnership's OPAL TIARA this afternoon saw the four year old daughter of Thousand Words take the Group 2 Balanchine Stakes under Oisin Murphy.
OPAL TIARA was a revelation in the latter half of 2016 taking a Listed race at Carlisle in June before adding the Group 3 Doom Bar Supreme Stakes at Goodwood in late August. In that period her official rating went from 95 to 109 and she's a filly we are all looking forward to in 2017.
Her 2017 reappearance was at Meydan three weeks ago where she finished an encouraging second the Very Special over a mile in the Group 2 Cape Verdi and with the winner that night having to carry a three pound penalty today, there was every hope that she could reverse that result over the extended trip of nine furlongs.
That she did and in thrilling fashion as she stalked Muffri'Ha and Very Special throughout before Oisin asked for an effort as they straighten up for home. It couldn't have gone any better and she swept through to take the lead in the closing stages to prevail by a neck from the closing Via Firenze.
Mick and Gill Hedley bred OPAL TIARA and she's been a source of great fun for connections over the past two years. Clive and Keith Potter have been in with Gill since the start but they've been joined this year by Andrew & Emma Leader, Stephen & Aida Kenny, Ed Mills-Webb, Robert Quick and Barry Gates.
Mick was determined that OPAL TIARA'S improvement would continue this year, hence buying her back when she went through the HIT sales last autumn and it's certainly been worth it as he's got the World Cup night in mind for her next outing.
"That was great and she's such a smashing filly to train. We've won our Group 2 now so i see no reason why we shouldn't try her at the top level with the Turf race on World Cup night being the obvious target.
"I'm chuffed for Gill, Keith, Clive and the new connections - what an exciting filly to be involved in!
"Well done to Lesley who always oversees the training of our horses over here. Whilst it's ultra competitive and very hard to win out here she's a great asset to the whole job and much of this is down to her. Having a filly like Opal does make the job a little easier though.
"She'll have a Group 2 penalty now so we'll obviously pitch her in against the big guns at Group 1 level this year. That's what we are always trying to do but it's extra special to be able to do it with a filly who we've been with from the very start. I couldn't be happier."
Jon & Sophie Mitchell's PERSUN (Nearside) - A winner at Kempton last night
A very pleasing victory for Jon Mitchell's PERSUN at Kempton last night saw the admirable five year old mare win for the first time on the artificial surface after a pleasing introduction a fortnight ago at Wolverhampton.
She took last night's eleven furlong 0-80 contest in thrilling fashion to underline her hardiness and admirable attitude in the face of a far from perfect passage.
It was made far from easy for her in the closing stages as she was forced to come quite wide in a messy affair but she ran all the way to the line to deny Alcatraz in the shadow of the post under Graham Lee.
Mick was delighted with an ultra competitive performer who now has added another string to her bow.
"She's certainly given us options and she's a filly who puts a smile on your face. We'll see how she comes out of this but obviously I'll be looking to get a fast track qualifier with her now because the Lingfield Champions' Day at Easter would be an obvious target from here on in.
"There's not much more I can say about her except to say that she keeps turning up and always gives her best. She a pleasure to train."