Kimochi breaks black-type drought

Posted by RS NewsWire at 8:32pm on February 17th

Gary Portelli feared Kimochi was about to be the bridesmaid yet again when Learning To Fly ranged up to her in the Light Fingers Stakes, but his filly showed great courage to kick back and land an overdue black-type win.

The three-year-old had finished runner-up five times in 10 starts, four of those in stakes races, but she got her moment in the sun in Saturday’s Group 2 fillies’ showpiece.

“When the second horse moved up I thought, ‘here we go again’, we’re going to get beat(en) again’,” Portelli said.

“I was ready for the sad story, but she fought strongly and we’re in for a big prep.

“She’s got that tenacity hasn’t she. She came off the carpet there, I thought she was gone for sure.

“She wanted to win today and she deserved it.”

Portelli was only able to give Kimochi a two-week break after going deep into the spring as connections chased a breakthrough Group race win.

While admitting the short turnaround had its challenges, he said his team had done a tremendous job to get her back up quickly and firing.

He also conceded to having some mixed emotions with Kimochi entered for an upcoming broodmare sale.

The daughter of Brave Smash will get another Group 1 chance before then, however, with Portelli confirming she would be back at Randwick in two weeks for the Surround Stakes (1400m).

Learning To Fly was gallant in defeat at her first start since almost falling in last year’s Golden Slipper.

Tom Magnier, representing owners Coolmore, said he was “delighted” with her effort after so long on the sidelines.

“For a filly that hasn’t run for a year, that was exciting. She is in for a big autumn,” Magnier said.

Kimochi ($6.50) got the verdict by a half-head over Learning To Fly ($4.20) with the runner-up’s Annabel Neasham-trained stablemate Kristilli third, another 1-3/4 lengths away.

Tiz Invincible was a market drifter, starting at $4.60 before finishing sixth, with jockey James Mcdonald telling punters to stick with her.

“She just got too far back out of her ground but made a nice run into the straight and peaked on the run,” McDonald said.

“She will be hard to beat in two weeks.”

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