Anabandana Creates History


Champion Cambridge filly Anabandana left her connections almost speechless after creating history in the Group III $70,000 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings yesterday.

Trainer Don Sellwood (pictured), jockey Opie Bosson and Hamilton owner Chris Grace were all totally amazed by her performance in demolishing the opposition in the first leg of the NZ Bloodstock Filly Of The Year series.

The daughter of Anabaa became the first horse to win both Group I two-year-old events in New Zealand and train on to also take the Gold Trail Stakes the following season. And making her feat even more memorable is that as well as winning the Auckland Diamond Stakes and Oaks Stud Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes last term, she also captured the country’s richest juvenile fillies event, the Group II Swap Matamata Breeders’ Stakes.

Since the Ellerslie feature (formerly the Ellerslie Sires’ Produce Stakes) was first introduced (as the Wills Championship Stakes) in 1964 only one filly had tread a similar successful juvenile path as Anabandana. That filly was the Trevor and Stephen McKee-trained Moonshine in 1994 when she won the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes and the Sires’ Produce Stakes, but wound up third in the Gold Trail Stakes.

The public was right behind last season’s Champion Two-Year-Old in the first leg of the NZ Bloodstock Filly Of The Year series and Anabandana not only lived up to expectations, she exceeded them.

Ridden with confidence by Opie Bosson, Anabanda worked to the lead from her wide draw and maintained control despite some mid-race pressure from the second favourite, Testa Secret. Once into the home straight Bosson let the breaks go and the result was soon beyond doubt as the exciting three-year-old scampered clear to score by a length and three-quarters from Testa Secret, while the Roger James-trained Prestigious Miss ran on strongly from the rear for third.

“She was very impressive,” said Bosson shaking his head in amazement after the scintillating performance. “She was wanting me to let her go before the turn and I was just trying to hold her up as long as possible. When I let the breaks go, away she went. The scary thing is she’s not even half ready. She’s still got a lot of improvement in her.”

Owner Chris Grace admitted to being almost speechless after watching Anabandana’s performance. “Today I wasn’t expecting that,” said Grace after the race. “That was just spooky.”

Sellwood was in a similar state of shock as Grace. “She’s just an incredible filly,” he said. “I knew she was very well, but there’s so much improvement in her. Just look at her coat? It hasn’t turned yet.”

Of the past Gold Trail Stakes winners, only two champion fillies Snap (1993) and La Mer (1976) also won a Sires’ Produce Stakes, both winning the Awapuni feature. La Mer and Snap are part of the 12-member group which won the Gold Trail Stakes and Filly Of The Year series, but Sellwood says he isn’t concentrating on the latter target with Anabandana.

“I’m not worried about the fillies’ series for her,” he said. “I want to win a Group One here in New Zealand this spring and then one in Australia in the autumn and then she doesn’t have to do any more.”

Anabandana fans will have to pencil in the Te Rapa meeting on October 24 to see her in action next as Sellwood says she will contest the Group III $70,000 Sarten Memorial (1400m). That event will be her dress rehearsal for the main immediate goal, the Group I $300,000 NZ 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 12.