Few doubted she possessed Group 1 ability, and while Espiona took a little longer than expected, the daughter of Extreme Choice achieved the feat in Saturday’s $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill.
Given an inspired ground-saving ride by Michael Dee, Espiona did best in a thrilling three-horse war. The 4yo mare defeated the courageous 5yo Pride Of Dubai mare Pride Of Jenni by a half-head, with the 3yo Gold Standard filly Sheeza Belter a head back in third.
Coming off a win in the Group III Mannerism Stakes at Sandown, Espiona advances her record to five wins, a second, and a third from 12 starts with earnings of $812,750.
What a great thrill for Denise Martin & her @StarTbreds owners as @cwallerracing‘s Espiona (Extreme Choice) wins the G1 Coolmore Classic – we’re so fortunate to have assisted in the selection of her from @torryburnstud‘s @mmsnippets draft.@FBAA_agents @anz_news @TDNAusNZ pic.twitter.com/6QgyHKoT0L
— Randwick Bloodstock (@RBloodstock) March 11, 2023
“It’s a special win for Denise Martin (Star Thoroughbreds), a huge supporter of our stable. She’s just a pleasure to train for,” Chris Waller said.
“It was good to see her get back to winning form last start. Obviously, she could be a bit better in Melbourne, but we had to have an opportunity on her home track. Thrown in at the weights and a lovely draw and a lovely ride from Michael Dee.
“If I needed that I would’ve won a trial with her and made it easier at home. But no, she might be a bit better left-handed. As we continue to say, you can’t sense confidence; you can only give it to a horse, whether it’s winning or looking after them. It might be a baby having its first gallop, just give them confidence and they’ll look after you.
“We had the pin-up girl at the time, and she lost her way a little bit, but she’s done a great job today.”
Bred by Torryburn Stud in partnership with Frank Cook, Espiona was a $190,000 purchase by Star Thoroughbreds/Randwick Bloodstock Agency (FBAA) from the Torryburn Stud draft at the 2020 Magic Millions Yearling Sale.
She is the first foal of the winning O’Reilly mare Dahooil, purchased by Waller for $340,000 from the Waikato draft at the 2015 NZB Premier Yearling Sale.
A sister to stakes winner Bonny O’Reilly, from Waukato Stud’s revered Escada family, Dahooil died in February last year, and the Capitalist colt is her last foal.
Espiona is the third Group 1 winner for Newgate Farms Extreme Choice.