Grinzinger Belle adds to Lightning Day legacy for Shamexpress

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  • February 19, 2024
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A decade after saddling New Zealand-bred sprinter Shamexpress for a second placing in the Gr.1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington, Danny O’Brien returned to the same meeting on Saturday and landed a black-type prize with a daughter of the Windsor Park Stud stallion.

Grinzinger Belle overcame a wide gate and double-figure odds to score a bold victory in the A$200,000 Gr.3 The Vanity (1400m), bringing back some fond memories for her locally based trainer.

“We trained Shamexpress to run second in the Lightning a few years ago, so it’s really good to come back with a daughter of his and win another good race on the same day,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien trained Shamexpress through a 19-start career that produced three wins, five placings and more than A$1 million in stakes, headed by a victory in the Gr.1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and Group One placings in the Lightning, the Sprint Classic (1200m) and the Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m).

The O’Reilly stallion retired to Windsor Park Stud in 2014 and has been credited with 141 winners from 212 runners. Grinzinger Belle became his 10th individual stakes winner on Saturday, joining a group headed by Group One winner Coventina Bay.

Grinzinger Belle had already shown plenty of ability before Saturday’s black-type breakthrough, winning at Sandown in the spring and placing in the Gr.2 Fillies’ Classic (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate Day in late October.

The Vanity Stakes was her first start since then, and she was rated a $12 chance after drawing the outside gate in a 12-filly field.

But jockey Damian Lane drove her forward from that wide alley and dominated the race from the front, keeping up a strong gallop all the way down the Flemington straight and winning by a length and a quarter.

“She’s come back in great order and furnished into a lovely big filly,” Lane said. “She always had the frame there, but didn’t quite have the substance. She’s furnished now and produced a very good performance to win today. Hopefully it’s not her last this autumn.

“I thought I might have done a bit much on her early. But because I’d be posted wide and working anyway, I had to bite the bullet and make the decision to go forward.

“She’s a high-cruising-speed style of a horse. It was just a matter of whether she could sustain those sectionals. Danny had her spot on today and she did it well.”

Grinzinger Belle’s eight-start career has now produced two wins, three placings and A$221,955 in stakes.

“I’m very happy with that performance,” he said. “She’d trialled up well leading into this, but when I was watching her sectionals today, I wasn’t sure how much petrol was going to be left in the tank. She was very solid right down the straight and it was a good win.

“She’s a very big filly and was always going to be better as she developed the strength to carry her frame.

“We could have a look at the Australian Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m), but the Kewney Stakes (Gr.2, 1600m) is the following week and I’d say it’s more likely we’ll stay amongst the fillies for now.”

Grinzinger Belle was bred by Windsor Park Stud and is out of Ripsomemore, a Rip Van Winkle half-sister to Group Three winner Golden Parachute. The progressive filly is another good graduate of the New Zealand Bloodstock Book 2 Yearling Sale, where she was purchased by owner John Wheeler for $32,000. – NZ Racing Desk.

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