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Clarken Racing | Clarken Racing News 43685 Bella Vella Claims Mcewen

Bella Vella claims McEwen

Bella Vella claims McEwen

Older sprinting mare Bella Vella maintained her unbeaten record this year with a trademark determined on-pace display in the $200,000 Group 2 Mittys McEwen Stakes (1000m) at The Valley on Saturday.

There was plenty of market support for Bella Vella ($4) and under Jamie Kah's guidance she was prominent throughout before shading fellow on-pacer Ashlor ($31) by a short head.

Brooklyn Hustle ($3.80 equal favourite), ridden by Ben Melham replacing the indisposed Dwayne Dunn, settled closer than usual in the nine-horse field and appeared poised to strike on straightening but couldn't quicken sufficiently to bridge the gap on the leaders and finished third.

Last season's Blue Diamond Stakes runner-up Hanseatic ($3.80 equal favourite) covered plenty of extra ground from the outside barrier under Craig Williams at his seasonal resumption, finishing fourth.

Last year's McEwen Stakes runner-up Bons Away ($8) finished second last, only beating home the Kris Lees-trained mare Witherspoon ($14), who endured a tough run at her first Victorian start.

WATCH: Bella Vella's McEwen Stakes win

"She's bloody tough," Kah said of Bella Vella. "First-up and she's still got a bit of condition on her, she was just so tough.

"She probably had enough about 100 metres out but she was just always going to win in my mind - so tough.

“We were in a nice spot early but Stacky (Daniel Stackhouse on runner-up Ashlor) wanted to pop off, I just didn't want to use her up and bump her around so were three wide in the end. But she's such a tough horse. I think if you set her a task, she just sticks it out to the end."

Bella Vella ended her three-start autumn campaign by winning her first Group race as a $41 chance in the G1 Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville in May.

The six-year-old daughter of Commands has won all four starts this year, three of those at Stakes level, with the G1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at The Valley on September 25 her intended next start where she will meet Brooklyn Hustle again.

"The winner looked very ready and we weren't as ready (in the prep) as her," said Brooklyn Hustle's co-trainer Jason Warren. "She will improve after this, she's still not very seasoned."

Carl Di Iorio


ICYMI - Galaxy Patch runs a smashing second in the Hong Kong Derby

  A $50,000 Adelaide Magic Million purchase by Will Clarken, Suman Hedge Bloodstock and David Jolly the son of Wandjina was purchased with Hong Kong in mind. After winning impressively on debut at Morphettville, Hong Kong was on the radar.   Instantly the gelding made his presence felt in Hong Kong winning on debut he then went on to win three further races following an unplaced run on the all weather track. Going into the Hong Kong Derby he was second at Group One level against California Spangle. The step up to 2000 metres was a question mark having previously only ran over the sprint trips.   From the big raw lad we purchased at the Adelaide Magic Millions in 2021 it is such a pleasure to see the vision we had almost become a reality on international shores.   Galaxy Patch became the second horse selected at the Adelaide Magic Millions by Will to reach the Hong Kong Derby after Prawn Baba a $20,000 purchase placed seventh in 2017.

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Kuroyanagi's spring goals

South Australian filly Kuroyanagi will spell in Victoria after a terrific run to finish third in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield, with her trainers already looking ahead to further elite-level targets in the spring. Niki O'Shea, who co-trains with Will Clarken, said the filly could head towards Guineas options later this year, having shown a great deal of raw talent in just her first racing preparation. "It was great, she was fantastic," O'Shea said. "When she came off the bit early, I thought we were in big trouble, so I was just happy that she did what she did. "On Sunday morning you wouldn't have known she'd had a run. She's actually going to stay there, she's gone to the paddock at one of those nice places down at Mornington." Clarken and O'Shea were not sure where Kuroyanagi would get to in her first preparation, with the view the $390,000 Written Tycoon filly will be a superior three-year-old galloper. "We've hardly trained her really, she's just done it under her own steam, we nearly put her in the paddock three or four times and she just kept pointing us in the right direction," O'Shea said. "He (Brenton Avdulla) said she was just green, ran off the corner and ran around the place, she's still six months away. He said she might even be a Guineas-type of horse, she's got the big action and she'll only keep improving."Story from Tim Yeatman

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Clarken ‘blown away' by his Blue Diamond filly

Blue Diamond contender Kuroyanagi is doing things Will Clarken has never seen before. The Group 1-winning trainer is astounded by the physical development of the talented filly and her appetite for work, confident she's going to run a big race in Saturday's $2m feature at Caulfield. Clarken has been open about the fact he's been searching for an excuse to tip Kuroyanagi out, convinced she's going to be even better as a three-year-old, but she's just thriving. "It's amazing. Me and (co-trainer) Niki (O'Shea) are just blown away by what she's done," Clarken said. "I could send people a video of her first gallop this prep and you'd just think it was a different horse. The way she's improved and the way she can handle pressure in a preparation is phenomenal. "I've never had a juvenile who has strengthened and developed in work. Week-to-week she's getting bigger and stronger and more durable. She's a ferocious doer and nothing fazes her. "I haven't dealt with a lot of really good young horses like this but she's just obviously got a great constitution." Kuroyanagi first came to prominence in early January when superstar jockey Jamie Kah made a rare visit home to South Australia to ride her to a dominant victory in a jumpout at Murray Bridge. She went on to win her debut in soft fashion at Gawler before an agonising second across the border in the Group 2 Blue Diamond Prelude for fillies earlier this month. "She's just come home and thrived. I haven't had one travel back and handle it so well for a long time," Clarken said. "That was our main concern as it was the first trip away for a young horse but she's put on weight, she's really above herself and he work has been terrific – we've been able to get two good gallops into her." With Kah and Blake Shinn, who partnered Kuroyanagi in the Prelude, opting to go elsewhere, Clarken was left searching for a suitable rider and he was watching a recent Sha Tin meeting when it hit him that Brenton Avdulla would be perfect. "I like to keep an eye on Hong Kong racing because we've got a small pool of horses over there now and he's riding so well," he said. "I was going through options, I asked a couple of Sydney guys and they had rides up there, so I said to (racing manager) Lachie (Weekley) ‘why don't you ask (Avdulla)'? "We watched him ride a double at the Chinese New Year meeting and I thought ‘imagine getting him on, it'd be awesome'." Kuroyanagi is rated an $18 hope with the TAB and Clarken thinks that presents good value. "The gate (two) to me is not ideal, I would've liked to have drawn out a little bit, but we've got the gun riding her, so that will help," he said "If she gets a little luck in running, I think she's a genuine each-way chance. "It's hard to say that going into big Group 1s but she has trained on remarkably well."

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