Featured Racing News
As impressive as Hiyaam was in her front-running Vinery Stud Stakes win, it was what happened after the finish line which has buoyed jockey Michael Dee's hopes the filly can also win the Australian Oaks.
Hiyaam, who was third in the VRC Oaks in Melbourne last spring, stamped her credentials for Saturday's Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick when she led all the way in the Group One Vinery (2000m) at Rosehill on March 31.
The Mick Price-trained filly beat a group of other Oaks hopefuls in the 1-3/4-length victory, giving 21-year-old Dee his third Group One win for the season.
"The most impressive part was after the line," Dee said.
"She dominated that race to win by nearly two lengths and then it took me 1200 metres to pull her up.
"And I know she gets the distance. The 2400 metres is no worries so she should be going pretty close."
Hiyaam will jump from the inside gate in the field of 13, having also jumped from barrier one in the Vinery.
The filly went into the Vinery off only one lead-up race when third in the Group Two Phar Lap Stakes (1500m).
"I knew she would run well in the Vinery but to win like she did was a bit surprising," Dee said.
"I think this time in she's gone to another level."
Hiyaam forms part of a good book of feature race rides on the second day of The Championships for Dee who is having a break-out season at the elite level.
He also partners Hiyaam's stablemate Oregon's Day in the Group One Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m) for fillies and mares.
Oregon's Day has been knocking on the door having finished a close second in all three starts at Group level this campaign, including the Group One Coolmore Classic two starts ago.
Dee also rides New Zealand stayer Five To Midnight in the $2 million Sydney Cup (3200m).
Five To Midnight is trained by Lisa Latta for whom Dee rode winners when he was an apprentice in his native New Zealand before moving to Melbourne in early 2015.
Gary Portelli has consigned She Will Reign's Oakleigh Plate run to the waste bin but admits her most recent Group One start in the William Reid Stakes was a disappointment.
The winner of the 2017 Golden Slipper and Moir Stakes in the spring, She Will Reign returns to her own age group in Saturday's Group Two Arrowfield Sprint (1200m) at Randwick.
The three-year-old filly finished 10th of 18 in the Oakleigh Plate, 2-1/2 lengths from the winner Russian Revolution, after jumping from a wide barrier.
In the William Reid won by Hellbent, she finished 6-1/2 lengths eighth.
"I was happy with the Oakleigh Plate given the circumstances," Portelli said.
"We can forget that run.
"But the William Reid was a shocker. Ben (Melham) rode her upside down and she didn't get a chance to show what she can do."
Before her two recent Melbourne starts, She Will Reign won the sales-related Inglis Sprint for three-year-olds at Warwick Farm on February 10.
The filly worked well on Saturday, a little too well for Portelli's liking, so he gave her a gallop on the Warwick Farm course proper on Wednesday.
"I thought she needed an extra gallop," he said.
Godolphin's Viridine was the TAB's $3.10 favourite on Thursday with She Will Reign at $12.
Portelli said the filly was likely to be spelled after the Arrowfield Stud Stakes with the trainer keen to prepare her for longer races in the spring.
"The way she has grown and the way she strides out suggest she is looking for further," he said.
"If she can get over more ground, there are plenty of races for her as a four-year-old mare."
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The 2017 NRL season saw the Melbourne Storm cruise to victory in the grand final against a tired looking, under strength North Melbourne team who in reality conjured up a minor miracle just to make it to the grand final. Will the story be the same this season or will one of the other teams come out of the pack to challenge??