She brings joy this time

Stephen Marsh greeting She Brings Joy and Danielle Johnson after their win in the Royal Stakes today.

Stephen Marsh greeting She Brings Joy and Danielle Johnson after their win in the Royal Stakes today.

She Brings Joy chose an opportune moment to break her maiden status and underline her staying potential with an impressive win in the Gr. 2 Stella Artois Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie today.

The three-year-old Sebring filly had hinted a step up in distance would suit when finishing on well for sixth over 1600 metres in the Gr. 2 Eight Carat Classic on Boxing Day. Having settled back in the running that day, rider Danielle Johnson changed her tactics this time as she sat the chestnut filly in the trail as Adis set a slow pace out in front.

Adis was set alight entering the home straight which allowed Johnson to extricate She Brings Joy from the trail and the Stephen Marsh-trained filly set out after the leader who had established a healthy break.

Johnson was at her vigorous best as she lifted She Brings Joy at the line to snatch victory by a nose from a game Adis with Grand Soleil running on strongly to nab third.

She Brings Joy getting in the deciding stride at Ellerslie today.

She Brings Joy getting in the deciding stride at Ellerslie today.

Marsh was full of praise for the effort. “I rode her that hard in the last furlong that with me on top I didn’t know if I had got her beat,” he joked. “I can’t believe this horse was still a maiden. She’s been probably our most promising maiden for a long time.

“I thought she’d win first-up and then second-up but it’s just those bad draws that have plagued us. Finally today she drew a barrier.”

Marsh is already thinking higher for the filly who brought up his second successive victory in the event, having scored with Sofia Rosa last year.

“She’ll have a little break now as we’ve given it to her a bit,” he said. “She has got a nomination for the Oaks so that’s our real focus now.”

Marsh will be hoping the filly can go one better than stablemate Sofia Rosa who was relegated to second in the 2016 Gr. 1 New Zealand Oaks behind Fanatic before going on to capture the Gr. 1 Australian Oaks.

She Brings Joy is bred and raced by Valachi Downs principal Kevin Hickman, who will offer a half-brother by Savabeel in the Premier session of the NZ Bloodstock National Yearling Sale that will get underway at Karaka later this month.

NZ Racing Desk