Winning our first group race with Diamond Tathagata and qualifying him for this year’s Golden Slipper capped off a remarkable week for the stable snaring 4 winners from our 6 starters

The week stated well with our first two year old winner for the season when Star Sensation stormed to victory at only her second race start on Tuesday the 21st of February. After being narrowly beaten when on debut at Kembla when she raced a little greenly in the straight, Star Sensation ventured to Hawkesbury for a 2yo maiden over 1000m where she drew awkwardly in barrier 11. After commencing well in form apprentice Rachel King restrained the filly to quickly have her back second last only one horse off the fence. Star Sensation travelled well throughout the run and tracked into the race nicely just before the turn. Once switched to the outside and gaining clear running on the point of the turn the daughter of Star Witness balanced up beautifully to produce a barnstorming finish under hands and heels riding from Rachel. Star Sensation raced to the lead inside the final 100m to win convincingly by an ever widening length. Whilst Star Sensation may have been our first 2 year old winner for the season, her success made her our fourth individual winner for the team at Darby Racing.

Tough four year old gelding Lanciato became our second winner for the week greeting the judge in spectacular fashion in a 1400 metre benchmark 79 event at the Rosehill midweek meeting on Wednesday the 22nd of February. The former kiwi had put the writing on the wall with a strong first up performance to finish third at Randwick on Australia Day. Lanciato’s win was not dissimilar to that of Star Sensation’s. After beginning well Lanciato was allowed plenty of time to find his feet with Tommy Berry allowing him to drift back through the field early, settling in eighth position one off the fence. The race was run at a good tempo and Lanciato travelled well until the 600 metre mark when he began to be niggled at by Berry. Hooked six wide at the 400 metres Lanciato started to run on resolutely, however the leaders showed plenty of fight and kicked on strongly. This meant that by the time they had reached the 200 metre mark Lanciato still had 3 lengths to make up. It was at that point Tommy switched the whip to his right hand and Lanciato really started to lift, sprouting wings in the final 50 metres. In a thrilling three way finish Lanciato put in a mighty bound right on the line to get up in the final stride to win by a nose. After running several placings since joining the stable it was great to see him break through for his first Australian win and his third win overall. Hopefully he can now go on with the job and win plenty more.

Our hulking Hinchinbrook colt Diamond Tathagata lined up in one of the traditional lead up races to the Golden Slipper, the Group 2 Skyline Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday the 25th of February. Heavy rain the day before meant that the colt faced a track that was rated a heavy 8, just as he did when runner up to the Slipper favourite She Will Reign on debut in the Inglis Nursery back in December. After beginning soundly, Jockey Glyn Schofield allowed Diamond Tathagata to stride forward wide on the track, however after being unable to cross the two leaders Schofield took hold off the colt at the 800 allowing him to race 3 wide without cover in a share of the lead. Turning for home there were four horses across the track with Diamond Tathagata appearing to be under pressure. Soon after the leader dropped off, leaving Diamond Tathagata in second behind Goldophin colt Corruscate who had raced outside the leader for most of the race. When Corruscate kicked at the 200 metres and put two lengths on our colt it looked as though he would run and admirable second. But Diamond Tathagata had other ideas. Responding gamely to Glyn’s urgings Diamond Tathagata absolutely refused to concede defeat and kept coming gamely at the leader. When Corruscate began to really feel the pinch in the last 50 metres on the heavy track Diamond Tathagata loomed up and grabbed him three strides from the post and surged clear to score an amazing victory. What a way for the stable to record it’s first ever group success! Diamond Tathagata’s courageous win means he automatically qualifies for the $3.5 million Golden Slipper at Rosehill on March 18.

A few hours after Diamond Tathagata’s thrilling victory our filly So Hard To Catch faced the starter for just the third time at Newcastle’s Beaumont track. After a fourth and a third at her first two runs three year old daughter of Hard Spun began well from gate 6 in the 1300 metre maiden but was caught 3 deep in an early speed dual for the first 300 metres of the race. Our jockey Mitchell Bell continued to press forward and eventually crossed to the lead at the 1000 metre mark. Once in front Mitchell was able to back the tempo off nicely and rated the filly to perfection in the lead. So Hard To Catch gave a nice kick at the top of the straight when Mitchell went for her and she finished off the 1300 metres strongly to break her maiden status in convincing fashion. It was a very professional performance from So Hard To Catch who has shown good improvement at each of her runs. Hopefully there are many more wins in store for her.

It certainly was a week that the stable won’t forget in a hurry saddling up 4 winners and getting our first black type win with Diamond Tathagata. It’s great to be building such momentum coming into the Sydney Autumn Carnival and hopefully we can keep this up by producing more winners over the coming weeks.

Story courtesy of: Philip Heath, owner