In a blockbuster result for Shamexpress, London Express finished over the top of Qiji Express to win the Listed John Turkington Forestry Castletown Stakes at Wanganui this afternoon.
The young Windsor Park Stud stallion has made a strong impression with five individual winners so far in his first crop of two-year-olds this season. Black-type performers were the only thing missing from his CV, but his Castletown Stakes pair changed that today with a superb quinella.
Qiji Express, from the champion stable of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman and a four-length winner at Hastings last start, was the $3.10 favourite in a field that also included the stakes winner Secret Allure and runaway debut star Wekaforce.
Last-start New Plymouth winner London Express was slightly overlooked as the $7.50 fourth favourite, but the filly came out on top with a powerful late run.
Rider Jonathan Parkes was happy to drop back to the tail of the field on London Express as the longshot Glide Queen set a strong early tempo.
Qiji Express was within striking distance all the way and burst to the lead at the top of the straight, but London Express soon began to lengthen stride down the extreme outside. Qiji Express still had a two-length advantage at the 100-metre mark, but London Express kept coming and clawed her way past the favourite to win by half a length.
Raced by her breeders, Kerrin and Teresa Brophy and Kevin Landrigan, along with five others, the Allan Sharrock-trained London Express has had four starts for two wins, two placings and $39,500 in prize-money.
“She did it very nicely,” Sharrock told www.theinformant.co.nz. “I told Parkesy to ride her cold. We thought the best part of her race would be late, and that’s exactly how it turned out.
“She’ll go straight to the paddock now and we’ll bring her back for the spring. I think a mile will be her optimal distance, and we’ll look for some nice races around that trip.”
It was the second Castletown Stakes win in the last three years for Parkes, who also won it on Volpe Veloce in 2016.
“There appeared to be a lot of speed in this race on paper, and it was run accordingly,” he said. “They went pretty hard in front.
“Once this filly got out into the better part of the track, she let down with a mighty run. I think that around this time next year, when she’s even stronger, she’ll be a quality little filly.”