Another smart “Filly” for Neal

Joyfilly (Mark Hills) urging her owners to pay the late entry for the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes with a convincing win at Matamata today.

Joyfilly (Mark Hills) urging her owners to pay the late entry for the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes with a convincing win at Matamata today.

When Murray Neal retired his fine mare The Filly last season he must have been left wondering if he would ever get to tackle another Group One race as an owner.

Though The Filly never won a Group One race, she did get to contest three of the top level events and ran seventh to Bounding in the Railway Handicap at Ellerslie. It was a highlight for Neal to get The Filly, a mare he co-bred, raced and trained, to the major events.

The Filly had her last race in October 2015 and now 17 months later Neal has a chance to again chase Group One glory.

Neal is a part-owned of Joyfilly, a Highly Recommended filly he bought for $10,000 from the 2016 Festival Yearling Sale at Karaka and races under his Bayline Trust banner in partnership with Cambridge trainer Chris Wood. Having not renewed his trainer’s licence, Neal offered the filly to Wood to train.

Joyfilly earned her crack at Group One when she broke through for her first win in the Retox Sports Bar & Tokoroa Cosmopolitan Club 1200 at Matamata today.

The win has guaranteed Joyfilly a tilt at the Gr.1 $225,000 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes at Awapuni on April 1.

Joyfilly started a hot favourite today on the strength of a last-start close second behind Gold Fever in the Gr.2 J. Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders Stakes and at no stage did she look like letting her supporters down.

Rider Mark Hills bounced her out to track the leader Cousteau in the six-horse field and, though she lugged out a shade rounding the home turn, he had her challenging halfway down the home straight. Joyfilly then asserted her superiority and won by a length and a half from Swing Note, who ran on to shade Cousteau.

“I know there’s no such thing as an easy option, but I thought we’d come here to Matamata as she’s raced nicely here,” said Wood. It’s a nice stepping stone to the Sires Produce Stakes, which we’re not in yet – we’ve got to pay the late nomination.

“She’s a lovely filly with the greatest nature and she tries hard to please. She’s done the job today.

“She’ll go for the Sires Produce then have a break after that.”

Joyfilly has now raced four times for the win and two placings. The first of those placing was also when runner-up to Gold Fever, at Te Rapa last month. She had been a trials winner before going to the races.

Though Neal must be excited over the prospects of Joyfilly, he will never forget the joy he had racing The Filly.

The Filly, a daughter of Ishiguru, won 10 of her 47 starts and was placed on a further 19 occasions, earning over $260,000 in prizemoney.

The highlight for Neal with The Filly was winning the Gr. 3 Rich Hill Stud Taranaki Breeders Stakes with Hills in the saddle.

The Filly also recorded many memorable placings for Neal, including a second in the 2013 Gr.3 Concorde Handicap at Ellerslie, a second in a Listed Tauranga Classic, two thirds in the Listed Rotorua Stakes, thirds in two Gr.2 Foxbridge Plates (the first time behind I Do and the next, behind Addictive Habit in 2015), a third in the Listed Opunake Cup and a third in the Listed Counties Bowl.