Express way home a winning one

Qiji Express (Craig Grylls) striding to the finish a convincing winner at Ellerslie today.

A top ride by Craig Grylls enabled the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Qiji Express to land the Listed Mufhasa Fasttrack Stakes (1300m) at Ellerslie today.

Given a perfect ride by Craig Grylls, the son of Shamexpress sat just behind the favourite and leader Queen Of The Air and did not go around a horse as he took the shortest way home.

Despite starting at odds of $13.70,  Baker was confident the Chinese-owned galloper would run a strong race fresh-up and so it proved as he comfortably held runner-up She’s A Thief, with Tiger Silk close up in third.

“He’s been working well and we gave him a jump-out the other week at Cambridge and it was a very strong heat and he ran well,” Baker said.

“He ran fourth out of four, but was close up and we thought he was ready to go.

“We thought he’d go pretty well fresh and he got a good barrier (gate 4) and Craig rode him a treat.”

The well-performed three-year-old was fresh-up and had been gelded since failing to run out the distance of the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), in which he finished eighth.

He had previously split Group One winners Sword Of Osman and Madison County when second in the Gr.2 James And Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m).

“It was a really good effort,” Grylls said.

“He will take natural improvement out of it and he is in the right stable. They do a great job.

“It worked out well. I got a really good run up the fence and he kept on really strong.  He gawked around a little bit when he did hit the front, but he’d already put a break on them.”

Qiji Express is raced by Chinese connections, including Horse Feng Bloodstock’s Hongwei Chen and Alex Teng and Tianjin-based businessman Fudong Niu.

A son of Windsor Park Stud stallion Shamexpress, Qiji Express is a graduate of the NZB Select Yearling Sale, where he was secured for $27,500.

The Gr.2 Norwood Family Wellington Guineas (1400m) at Trentham on March 16 is the logical target for Qiji Express, who became his sire’s fourth stakes winner from just 39 starters.

“He will certainly get 1400m, but it was a very good win today,” Baker said.

– NZ Racing Desk