Sebring pair show Sandown staying credentials

4 min read

By Bren O'Brien

Two impressive Sebring 3-year-olds could be set for feature staying races during the autumn after breaking their respective maidens in style at Ladrokes Park Hillside on Wednesday.

The Michael Kent-trained filly Amanikan charged home from the rear of the field to win the 1300m opening race before Anthony Freedman's gelding Ridgewood Drive also opened his winning account at his second start after kicking clear to win the second event over 1500m.

Amanikan, bred and raced by Rick Jamieson of Gilgai Farm, is out of Group 2-winning mare My Emotion (NZ) (Savabeel), a family that also includes stakes winners Tennessee Midnight (Danehill {USA}), Aloha (Encosta de Lago) and Malaguerra (Magnus).

First-up since her debut at Geelong in June, she may have missed the start and sat last for most of the race, but Beau Mertens brought her with a strong late run and she proved too strong for her rivals, defeating another well-bred and promising filly in Lacazette (Fastnet Rock).

"She's a very big filly and she's very slow moving early. She's never had much speed in all her trials," Kent said after the race.

"She's always shown me enough. She's got a big tank. We're hoping she’ll get a trip later on."

"You can’t put a dint in her. She's a very big, strong, robust filly. It’s just the length of her leg, she takes a while to get into gear. But she's out of a Savabeel mare and by Sebring, so you’d hope she runs 10 furlongs and further later on."

"She's always shown me enough. She's got a big tank. We're hoping she’ll get a trip later on." - Trainer, Michael Kent

Kent, who prepared the dam My Emotion to run in a G1 Schweppes Oaks and also put the polish on Oaks-winning siblings Absolutely (Redoute's Choice) and Abbey Marie (Redoute's Choice), feels Amanikan fits into a similar mould.

Amanikan following her win at Sandown

"We'd be hopeful she might feature in some of those autumn Oaks races later on. It's important now to win a race or two and get her rating up so she can get into those races. I'll space her races, but the autumn comes around pretty quickly and that's where we expect her to be."

Mertens agreed that she was a filly with considerable scope for improvement.

"She's very progressive. She does everything right." - Jockey Beau Mertens

"She's very progressive. She does everything right. She will sit and relax for you. You can put your hands on her neck and she'll travel comfortably and she leaves a bit for herself to finish off which is great to have," he said.

She is the only surviving foal from My Emotion, who went to Zoustar in the spring.

Michael Kent Jnr. confirmed to that the UAE Oaks in February was also an option for Amanikan.

"She is going to be entered, and the UAE Oaks is certainly on the cards, along with the other major Oaks races in the Autumn," he said.

Powerful Drive impresses Freedman

Ridgewood Drive, a half brother to G1 Queensland Derby winner Sonntag (Teofilo {Ire}), also boasts the pedigree to contest one of the upcoming autumn staying races and showed his class kicking clear of the pack late under Mark Zahra to win by 1.25l.

Stable representative Sam Freedman said Ridgewood Drive could be destined to follow in the footsteps of his older brother to the feature 3-year-old staying race of the Brisbane winter.

"We’ve always earmarked him as a horse who could get a longer trip and being a half to Sonntag, who won the Derby, we’ll look to get him out even further and he'll only improve out to those distances," he said.

"We’ve always earmarked him as a horse who could get a longer trip." - Stable representative, Sam Freeman

"We've looked at the Queensland Derby and that could be an option for him if he goes the right way."

Freedman said a decision would be made in the next few days whether Ridgewood Drive presses on or is given a break with better races in mind.

He was a $140,000 purchase for Freedman at the 2017 Australian Easter Yearling Sale. He is out of Parfaits (Strategic), who hails from the family of Ice Cream Sundae, Flavour and Raspberries.

Parfaits has produced two other winners in Dimanche (Denman) and Mantecado (Commands), while she has a 2-year-old by filly Shooting To Win and foal filly by Astern.

Ridgewood Drive as a yearling