Asharani proved her improving talent by taking victory under a superb ride from James McDonald at Randwick on Saturday.
The New Zealand born jockey was at his very best as he produced the Phoenix Thoroughbreds owned mare to get up in the final strides of the 1400m contest. Trainer Kris Lees has always held the daughter of I Am Invincible in good regard and she stepped up from the first run of her current prep to claim the fourth success for her career.
As is her way, Asharani was a step slow from the barriers and sat with only two behind in the early stages as To Your Health set some healthy fractions out in front. McDonald’s race-winning move came with around 800m to go as he gently encouraged his mount to get a little closer to the leaders and in a position to best use the mares late speed. As the field straightened up for home, the rider started to wind-up his more than willing partner and after a few strides, she began to pick up. Race favourite Word For Word followed her through and the pair set down to battle it out for gold. In the end, Asharani proved too strong to record a head victory.
“She’s a talented mare,” said Kris Lees post-race. “I think we’ll see the best of her probably in the autumn and winter. I think she’s capable of going on to win some black-type races. She got a lovely ride from ‘Mac’, when Pumpkin Pie got rolling he got on the back of it and that probably won him the race.
“The plan was always to give her just a light preparation, so we’ll see how she comes out of this and decide if she has one more or if we put her for the autumn.”
Lees wasn’t the only onlooker heaping praise on James McDonald for his winning ride but for his part, the jockey was just delighted that everything went to plan.
“It worked out really well,” explained McDonald. “She jumped a bit better but wasn’t great away. She mustered into a nice enough spot, we just needed a bit of tempo through the middle part of the race. When ‘Bossy’ made that mid-race move (on Pumpkin Pie) it just helped us into the race, so it was good.”