Having promised so much at the start of her career, Espiona has taken the long road to delivering on her potential but she has finally landed an elusive Group 1 win.
The mare emerged triumphant in a competitive three-way finish to the Coolmore Classic (1500m), giving trainer Chris Waller his first win in the Rosehill feature.
It has been a lesson in patience and perseverance for connections after the four-year-old created a big impression when she won her first two starts by a combined total of almost 10 lengths before two inconsistent campaigns.
Waller said helping Espiona regain confidence and rise to the occasion, particularly in Sydney where her form hasn’t been as strong, was incredibly satisfying.
“We did lose faith in her a bit,” Waller said.
“But that happens, that’s sport, but you don’t give up.
“They retain their ability, you just have to find the key again. It’s super rewarding when you can turn their form around and win a big race like this.”
In a genuinely run race, Pride Of Jenni kicked clear in the straight despite racing on the speed throughout and she kept finding as Sheeza Belter loomed on her outside and Espiona snuck up along the rails.
There was little between the three on the line, Espiona ($8) getting her nose down at the right time to score by a half-head from Pride Of Jenni ($31) with Sheeza Belter ($12) another head further back.
The Coolmore is jockey Michael Dee’s third Group 1 win but looks unlikely to be his last with Waller a big fan of the Victorian-based hoop.
“He’s the new Glen Boss,” Waller said.
“He doesn’t get fazed and he listens to you intently, he’s a hard worker and he’s a natural light weight.”
Annavisto started favourite but had a tough run from her outside gate and was eased out of the race by Nash Rawiller.
“She showed a sign that something was worrying her. We pulled her out of the race and looked after her,” Rawiller said.
Robbie Dolan was rapt with Pride Of Jenni’s fighting effort and said she was out on her feet but dug deep to just miss.
“She was brave in defeat, she had to do the donkey work in front,” Dolan said.
“I felt like she was getting tired in the straight but when they came at her, she really stuck her head down and fought right to the line.”
– RAS NewsWire