Velocious shines in G1 Sistema Stakes

Superstar filly Velocious (Written Tycoon) cemented herself atop the country’s two-year-old ranks with a tenacious victory in yesterday’s Sistema Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) at Ellerslie.

Velocious burst onto the juvenile scene on debut at Te Rapa in November, the daughter of Written Tycoon (Iglesia) swiftly collecting black-type honours in the Counties Challenge Stakes (Listed, 1100m) at the following start.

Her sole defeat in a dazzling five-start career came on heavy track conditions in the Eclipse Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m), a performance rectified in spades when she delivered trainer Stephen Marsh a triumphant Karaka Millions 2YO (RL, 1200m) victory.

Cambridge-based Marsh, alongside syndication group Go Racing, entered Saturday’s two-year-old feature hoping to repeat a slice of personal history, after the partnership claimed the Karaka Million-Sistema Stakes double with Ruud Awakening (Bernardini) in 2013.

In the hands of regular rider Sam Spratt, Velocious exploded from barrier four as the $1.60 favourite, settling outside the pacemaker Poetic Champion (Super Seth). Previously unbeaten in four starts, Captured By Love (Written Tycoon) was touted as the key danger to Velocious, but the Te Akau Racing filly was forced back and three-wide early in the eight-horse affair.

As Poetic Champion began to angle wider rounding the home turn, Spratt urged Velocious into the lead and she exploded clear at the 150 metres, an advantage too great for Archaic Smile (Saxon Warrior) and Captured By Love to reel in as the classy fillies scorched home to fill the minor placings.

Marsh admitted to a few nerves prior to the race and was delighted to have claimed his second-straight Sistema crown, after winning last year’s edition with Ulanova (Santos) after Tokyo Tycoon (Satono Aladdin) was disqualified for a swab irregularity.

“That feels great. She’s a great filly, a Karaka Million winner, and now she’s a Group One winner. That just tops it all off,” he said.

“I was nervous coming into today, a lot more gee’d up than for the Karaka Million, but I’m just happy it’s done and dusted and she’s got it.

“I was very comfortable, I thought Sam rode the horse perfectly. I told her to watch out for Poetic Champion, it could run out, and we were always going to nurse her to about the 200 metres, but when he started to run out, she had to push the button a bit early.

“She was just a sitting duck in the last little bit, she sprinted hard and she’s got a great turn of foot. She’s probably ridden better taking a sit, but Sam rode her perfectly, for today.”

Marsh had elected to give Velocious a brief freshen-up following the Karaka Millions, a comfortable 950-metre trial win at Cambridge in late February proving the ideal lead-in.

“You can’t run in every race, we peaked her for the Karaka Million and we wanted to give her a freshen up. She had the one quiet trial at Cambridge, that was all she needed, and today just showed that,” he said.

“You just can’t beat this feeling.”

Champion Kiwi-expat hoop James McDonald took the ride aboard Velocious in the Karaka Millions 2YO, and Spratt, ever the consummate professional, was thrilled to re-partner with the filly on Saturday.

“That was just awesome, I’ve had a bit of luck on the horse so it was great to get across the line for them [Marsh, Go Racing],” she said.

“It’s part of the game, if you’re playing rugby and Richie McCaw is in your position, you’re going to be on the sideline, so I had a sneaking suspicion right from the word go that it was going to be like that [Karaka Millions].

“They looked after me and put me back on now, so as I said, it’s just part and parcel.”

Spratt became the first female jockey in the 21st century to win the Sistema Stakes, and it hadn’t all been smooth sailing through the running.

“Poetic Champion was trying to run off a little bit, I think [Per-Anders Graberg, jockey] was having a bit of trouble. I didn’t have much of an option, I had to kick-up, so he didn’t get too much of a length on us, otherwise it would’ve just run me off,” she said.

“It panned out roughly how I wanted, but that wasn’t helping the scenario.

“She just does as much as she needs to, I think if [Archaic Smile and Captured By Love] came up, she would’ve dug again. It was a good run.

“Any Group One is awesome, everyone wants one, and each is worth it.”

Out of the Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) mare Parmalove, Velocious has now earned $917,750 for the Go Racing Burrata Syndicate, after Albert Bosma purchased the filly out of Inglewood Stud’s Book 1 draft at Karaka 2023 for $190,000.

This article was written by NZ Racing Desk for ANZ Bloodstock.