Loving Gaby showed what has become her trademark late electric speed to put in a superb performance and land the Group Three Scarborough Stakes at Moonee Valley on her first start as a Three-year-old.
The Phoenix Thoroughbreds owned filly had a remarkable juvenile campaign, never beaten more than two lengths in four Group Ones all following a debut victory in the Chairman’s Stakes at Caulfield. However, under the lights at The Valley on Friday she shone brightest of all in the 1200m race suggesting she could go even better this year.
Before she even loaded in the gates co-trainer Ciaron Maher had suggested she would “come on for the run”, but despite this note of caution the daughter of I Am Invincible put in a quite astonishing display. Breaking on terms from the gate jockey Damian Lane was keen not to let her do too much in the early stages and took her to settle back in the pack. She was soon seen moving fluidly through the field as they all reached the turn with Lane explaining post-race:
“I thought I was going to go back early because I knew she was underdone, but I was doing more harm holding her back, so I just let her stride out at the corner.”
Forced five or six deep throughout the long sweeping bend Loving Gaby always looked to be travelling strongly and when Lane asked her the question she had all the answers. Powering down the outside, she gobbled up the ground, passing her rivals before seeing off a late challenge from the race-fit Exhilarates to secure her second Group Three victory.
Her rider described the performance as “dominant” before adding he felt the filly was an “exciting prospect. Those sentiments were echoed by Maher who said of the victory:
“She was a bit soft, but that’s what good horses do. They just don’t do that unless they are exceptional and I think she is. She came to the races against a pretty slick field, and she’s not fully fit yet, and she had to do it the tough way a little bit. She was a little bit vulnerable because of where she’s at – she’s a bit soft in her preparation so that will bring her right up to speed.”
The trainer also confirmed Loving Gaby’s main spring aim is the Group One Empire Rose Stakes at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day.