There was just one filly in the Group 1 $700,000 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) at Eagle Farm this year, and Rob Heathcote’s diminutive little powerhouse Startantes proved too strong for her old rivals in the season’s final elite level race.
Not having won since September last year, the Star Turn three-year-old was huge late making up all the ground from the back of the field to run past last start Robert Sangster Stakes winner Snapdancer and salute in the Tiara at a price.
Backing-up from a fifth in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap at the same track and distance a fortnight earlier, Startantes went up from 50kg to 55.5kg but was still too strong after being ridden cold by Jason Collett.
Collett replaced Taylor Marshall in the saddle, a move by Heathcote and connections that proved pivotal as he gave the filly a 10/10 ride from last to first.
“The very special little pumpkin,” Heathcote told Sky Thoroughbred Central post-win.
“We’ve known she was special for a long way through, and she went that close (when runner-up) in the Surround (Stakes, Group 1) in Sydney.
“She’d had no luck. We made a big call taking Taylor off and putting Jason on, but he was last coming into the straight, kept his cool and ran right through them.
“She’s probably worth a few bob now aye?”
Still second last on the home turn, Collett sliced his way through the field and powered away over the top of the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained Snapdancer, who was brave up over 1400m never giving up the fight after doing plenty of work to race on speed from the outside alley.
Coming up along the rails in another eye-catching run for third was the Chris Munce-trained Palaisipan, the last start winner of the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1300m) putting in a gallant effort.
Startantes, who showed off her mighty little engine with some blistering late sectionals, will now head out for a well-deserved spell before a potential trip south for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival later in the year.
“She’ll go to the paddock for sure,” Heathcote said.
“I was going to take her to Melbourne for the spring but I’ll need to re-evaluate that now because she hasn’t had a break now for literally two preparations – only little bandaid breaks but jeez, there are some nice fillies and mares races at Flemington isn’t there?
“I am so pleased for the ownership group. We had the Mum – Funtantes, I had her Mum – Cantantes, it has been a part of my life for 23-24 years. This ownership group has been with me the whole way. My staff have done a fantastic job and of course, Jason Collett – thank you mate.”
Collett was thrilled to get the job done for the stable on Startantes and add a second Tattersall’s Tiara trophy to the cabinet following his 2019 win aboard the Chris Waller-trained Invincibella.
“I just missed in Sydney on her. It was great to get back on her. I’ve followed her this prep since both of us came back and she’d been running good, honest races but she probably hadn’t been finishing them off quite like she did today,” he said.
“The feeling I got when I pushed the button, I thought it was pretty good at Randwick when I just missed, but today it was unbelievable. Her turn of foot is electric.”
“I got up next to the Ciaron Maher runner (Snapdancer), I didn’t have a hell of a lot of carrots left and I was a touch worried but I was the fresh legs on the scene.
“It was three years ago (I won on Invincibella) and definitely one of my best times on track. It was good today to come back and get another one.”