“She’s flying guys!” The words of jockey Craig Williams shortly after dismounting from Loving Gaby after the star filly found the money once again in Group One company.
In a Lightning Stakes that changed complexion after the field of seven split into two groups, the Phoenix Thoroughbreds owed runner excelled in winning her race on the stand side only for the first two home to come from the group running on the inside.
With a plan firmly in place to follow red-hot favourite and likely pacesetter Nature Strip, Loving Gaby took a bump from her rival as the gates opened. Content to join the peloton of runners following the favourite Williams settled his mount at the back of that group as Redzel and eventual winner Gytrash headed for the inside rail. Travelling like a dream, Loving Gaby picked off her rivals to get within touching distance of Nature Strip. 200m out, Williams asked her to go and she breezed past the market leader. With no one to race against she just got a little lost out in front but finished strongly to secure yet another podium finish at the top level.
“We win our race dominantly,” he told delighted connections post-race. “We had the right plan and followed the right horse. If we were all in one group, I think she wins. She had to have a bit of a dash to get to Nature Strip, but she didn’t just get to him she breezed past him but got a bit lost after that.
“I love her mannerisms today compare to the last day, I think she’s matured both physically and mentally.”
The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace trainee has now run seven of her ten starts at Group One level, placing three times and winning once. Tough as she is talented ‘Gaby’ is likely to step back up in trip for her next start.
“She’s run super.” was the assessment of Maher in the immediate aftermath of the race. “It’s a shame they split, but in terms of going forward, the 1200m Newmarket Handicap is going to be perfect for her. She’ll come on a bit and we couldn’t be happier with her.”
The Newmarket Handicap takes place at Flemington on March 7.