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Graff living up to the hype

4 min read
The lid is firmly off the hype around emerging 3-year-old star Graff (Star Witness {Aus}) after his impressive victory in the G3 San Domenico S. at Rosehill on Saturday.

Owner Alan Bell, who has had his fair share of good horses including Schillaci, Grand Armee, Primacy, Deep Field and 2016 San Domenico winner Star Turn, let the cat out of the bag pre-race when he described Graff as 'something special'.

It was an opinion very much backed up by trainer Kris Lees post-race after Graff showed a superior turn of foot to win the San Domenico by a widening 2.5l.

“He’s the best colt I’ve had anything to do with - a really exciting horse. Really pleased with how he’s come back and I think there’s some nice races in store for him,” Lees said.

One of those races is the G1 Golden Rose at the same track in four weeks' time, a race for which he is now a pronounced favourite.

“He’s the best colt I’ve had anything to do with - a really exciting horse," Kris Lees on Graff.

Graff showed promise as a two-year-old, winning both of his races in lesser company but he has clearly taken a huge step forward in his time off, after Lees abandoned the plan to send him to Brisbane.

More to come

The addition of blinkers have also made a big difference, and when he was presented with a run on the inside of Neutrality (Sebring {Aus}), he quickened impressively.

“When he won at Hawkesbury he just thought about things and came off the bridle a touch but he’s a pretty serious horse,” Lees said on the use of blinkers.

"He’s got that type of attitude and he’s quite relaxed in his work at home. He’s got a very bright future.”

It’s an opinion backed up by his jockey Jason Collett, who felt that there was great improvement in the colt ahead of his next assignment in the G2 Run To The Rose (1200m) on September 8.

“He’s a bit of lad, physically there is still improvement to come with him, he only had the one trial going into today,” Collett said.

“He’s won over 1300m, so 1400m will be fine, see it as no concern stepping him up in trip.”

“He’s a bit of lad, physically there is still improvement to come with him," - Jason Collett, jockey

The honour roll of the San Domenico is full of colts who went on to be successful stallions, and the last two winners, Pariah and Star Turn, are already at stud. This win has improved Graff's value significantly.

It was little wonder Bell was so excited about his prospects pre-race. He purchased the colt for $200,000 at the 2017 Magic Millions Yearling Sale from the Widden Stud draft.

Graff, purchased by Alan Bell for $200,000 from the 2017 Magic Millions Yearling Sale

The beaten brigade

Second-placed Neutrality showed his customary speed, but got a little lost down the straight and will no doubt benefit from the run. Jockey Kerrin McEvoy also questioned whether he handled the soft track.

Third-placed Performer (Exceed and Excel {Aus}) pleased jockey Hugh Bowman greatly on his return to the track. He was trapped wide, and worked home late for third, but he would no doubt be suited over further this campaign.

The riders of fourth-placed Jonker (Spirit of Boom {Aus}), fifth-placed Tchaikovsky (Redoute's Choice {Aus}) and eighth-placed Paquirri (I Am Invincible {Aus}) all reported that their horses didn’t appreciate the ground.

Pedigree notes

Graff is out of Dinkum Diamond (Keep The Faith {Aus}), who won the G3 The Jansz as a 2YO and has had four foals, three of them by Star Witness {Aus). The first foal, a colt, sold for $100,000, before Graff went for $200,000 and then the younger sister went for $320,000 earlier this year. Dinkum Diamond has a yearling filly by Shamus Award {Aus).

Widden Stud bred Graff having brought Dinkum Diamond, whose dam Raja Lane was also G3 winner, for $95,000 in 2013.