Vergara Makes All In Epona Stakes

Vergara led from start to finish to record a very tough victory in the 2016 Epona Stakes at Rosehill Gardens this afternoon.

Vergara led from start to finish to take out the 2016 Epona Stakes at Rosehill Gardens this afternoon. Photo by: Steve Hart

Vergara led from start to finish to take out the 2016 Epona Stakes at Rosehill Gardens this afternoon. Photo by: Steve Hart

Jockey James McDonald picked up the ride on Vergara after Daniel Moor was unable to make it to the track in time for the day and he elected to press forward on the daughter of Snippetson after she struggled to settle in the early stages of the race.

Pre-race favourite Heavens Above made up plenty of ground from the tail of the field and looked as though she would finish over the top of her rival, but Vergara toughed it out to the line to record the biggest win of her racing career to date.

McDonald was full of praise for the toughness that Vergara showed in the final stages of the race and he joked that he would never give up the opportunity to claim a pick-up ride ever again.

“It was a good tough effort and she had to do it the hard way,” McDonald said.

“It is a nice pick-up ride anyway.

“I wasn’t going to pull against her because there was no point us fighting each other, but she relaxed really well down the side and she picked it up from the 600.

“She was tough and just too good for them.”

Trainer Anthony Cummings was quick to pay credit to the ride of McDonald, but he admitted that he felt sorry for Moor – who had the idea to back Vergara up in the Epona Stakes after she finished ninth in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) last weekend.

Cummings said that Vergara will continue to race in Sydney during the autumn before she potentially heads to the Gold Coast for the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the end of April.

“It was a really well judged ride from James,” Cummings said.

“It took the speed out of it and it took the other main chances out of it.

“I thought that All Cerise may have put more pressure into the first half of the race, but when she sat back off us it really handed the race up to the leader and that was us.

“I do feel a bit sorry for Daniel – it was his advice to step her up to the 1900 after her run last time and it was his advice as much as anything that got us here, so it is a bit sad that he couldn’t take advantage of it.

“There are a few nice races for her during the Randwick Carnival and this is probably going to be her last racing season, so she will go through to Brisbane for something like the Hollindale.”

Heavens Above was easily the best run in the race and she made up a great deal of ground in the final stages of the race, while Sweet Fire rounded out the placings in third.

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Thomas Hackett

Thomas is a passionate and opinionated racing journalist and punter who has been obsessed with horse racing since he backed Saintly to win the 1996 Melbourne Cup. An international racing enthusiast, he has his finger on the pulse of racing news not just from Australia but all around the world.