Classy three-year-old Beyond The Fort franked her gritty runner-up effort in the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) last month with a comprehensive victory in Saturday’s Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Warstep Stakes (2000m) at Riccarton.
The Bill Thurlow-trained Niagara filly won her first two starts before tackling Group One company in the Oaks where she pushed eventual winner, Sentimental Miss to the wire.
Thurlow was happy to trek her south from his Waverley base for Saturday’s contest after the filly came through her Oaks run in fine fettle. That decision paid off in spades as rider Dylan Turner produced a gem of an effort to save ground against the rail throughout before angling wide for better going in the home straight.
Fellow northern raiders Mohaka and Miss Valencia looked set to fight out the finish at that stage but had to bow to the superior staying skills of the winner who burst to the front at the 100m before easing clear for a two-length victory.
Thurlow nearly missed the race thanks to the vagaries of the Sydney traffic as he made his way to Randwick with stable star Glory Days, who was set to contest the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) later in the day.
“We were stuck in the Sydney traffic rattling around in the back of a horse truck when the race was on at Riccarton,” Thurlow said.
“Thankfully I had my wife with me, and we managed to watch the race on her phone. The vision wasn’t that great but the cars around us could probably have heard us cheering as they came down the straight.
“She has the makings of a really good stayer this filly (Beyond The Fort) and she did a great job to win this one.
“I couldn’t really make out just what happened, but Dylan managed to save a heap of ground and then got her out wide which was what I had asked him to do.
“I knew she was probably the best stayer in that line-up and that was how it panned out.”
Thurlow will wait until he gets home from Sydney next week before deciding on where to next for his charge but hasn’t ruled out a trip across the Tasman if she comes through this race well.
“We had been thinking of the South Australian Oaks (Gr.1 2400m) for her as long as she comes through this one well,” he said.
“There is also Queensland to consider but until I get back and see how she is I can’t really say what we will be doing with her.” – NZ Racing Desk