There are many things that can excite a trainer and one of the biggest is unraced yearlings and 2yr olds. Every horse bought is a star until it proves otherwise, the dreams are alive and you have a blank page to work on. Kevin has long been admired for his handling of juveniles. So when you get sent an unraced daughter of the superstar Frankel, it will get the pulses racing and the dreams certainly begin to form. Thankfully East has already started on the right path and the future looks very bright. She maintained her 100% record when bolting up in the Group 3 7f Prix Thomas Byron Jockey Club de Turquie at Saint Cloud.
East first made headlines during her breeze at the Goresbridge Breeze Up sales. Having shown her class when powering through 3f, Steven Hillen would go to E315,000 to sign for the filly. This was a sale topper and also a record for the sale which just showed how impressive she was. Luckily East was sent to Hambleton Lodge and Kevin received his first ever progeny fo Frankel. Obviously anytime the name Frankel is mentioned it brings excitement so when East began to work impressively it certainly got everyone’s pulses racing. Although East was a breeze up purchase, it was clear that she was far from the finished article and so connections took their time, which has proved to be the perfect plan.
Hamilton may not have a reputation of producing stars from their novice/maiden races but Kevin is no stranger to starting a art one out at the Scottish track. Bapak Chinta won there before going on to Royal Ascot glory. When East lined up for her debut at the same track there was plenty of excitement, not just from connections but racing fans alike, who always like to see a Frankel progeny start their career. Those who were watching were certainly impressed as East made smooth headway from the rear of the field. Once she hit to uphill finish she stayed on powerfully to overcome a pair of winners and win by a comfortable 1/2 length. The dream was still alive.
Kevin now had a bit of a dilemma. East was 1 from 1, he knew she was classy but does he take the steady approach or go for the big time. Connections decided to go for the latter and head straight into group company. Not only that but she would be heading to France and stepping up in trip, moving from 6f to 7f. All of these factors meant that East would need to be a smart filly if she was to continue her perfect record.
The Group 3 contest didn’t attract a big field but that didn’t mean that the quality was below the standard. Fellow overseas raider Dubai Dominion brought good British listed form to the table, Ecolo already had Group form and Pure Zen was a listed winner last time out. It was East and Pretty Boy who had the most to prove with the pair just bringing maiden/novice wins. Despite the form, Kevin knew how good his filly was and felt that the step up in trip would help East.
Unfortunately Kevin Stott could not ride so Kevin turned to familiar face when booking a jockey. Stephane Pasquier has done it all and is one of the best jockeys worldwide and has had success for Kevin in the past. Immediately Kevin snapped up his services which is always important when you are racing in a different country. East was seen as the outsider of the field and sent off 68/10.
With someone of the talent as Stephane you don’t do instructions. Kevin just told him about East and left the tactics up to the Frenchman. It’s always difficult to know what to do when a juvenile is stepping up in trip. East was going from sprinting over 6f to a sterner test of stamina. Yes she should stay the trip but it’s always an unknown how they would fare during the race, especially if the pace was just a bit slower than she was used to. Jumping well East was quickly into stride and for the first few strides there looked like there would be nobody willing to go on. It was the fellow outsider Pretty baby who then made a direct ploy to go for the lead and he did so quite briskly. Stephane now had the lead he was looking for and just applied the brakes on board East. At first the filly wasn’t too happy to steady up but through the first furlong she settled into a nice rhythm to sit in third.
As the field entered the long sweeping bend Pure Zen made a move up the inner, injecting more pace and taking the lead. This stretched the field into single file and East maintained her position in third spot. Once gaining a length lead, Alex Badel, on board the leader, now tied to steady things up. The field were still swinging left handed as they moved past halfway. With the race steadying up front it caused the two back markers to make interesting moves. The favourite, Ecolo, took a keen hold and swung wide whilst Dubai Dominion move along the rail. The pair closed up on East and by the time they were entering the home straight had demoted East to last place. Stephane didn’t panic and rather than try to take them on he just maintained his filly in a smooth rhythm.
At the top of the straight the field had 2 1/2f to run. Pure Zen still held sway in front but the four rivals of East had all moved up to be only separated by a length. Sat last, East now had all of her rivals in front of her. Stephane knew he couldn’t get a clear run so switched his filly out the outer passing the 2f marker. Now the race was on and all the jockeys were hard at work. East was starting to move up through the gears but she would need to as she had all to pass to win the race. Stephane was working but it was in a very refrained manner, trying to allow his filly time to find her feet and in turn her run.
The race looked wide open heading into final 1 1/2f. Pure zen still held the lead along the rail but now the fav was closing in. East was now starting to quicken up down the outer and was edging closer with every stride. There were four across the track but there was still a good way to run. Stephane was low in the saddle and getting a great tune from his filly, just asking her to lengthen. East was eating up the ground and over the next 100yards she drew up to the leader.
Entering the final furlong East had drawn alongside the leader with Pretty Baby in between the pair. Favourite Ecolo was left toiling in East’s wake and now it was down to the leading trio. Immediately after eyeballing Pure Zen, East breezed past him and Pretty Baby. Stephane was still just cajoling the filly and she was quickening with ease. Every stride they went the more ground she put between herself and her rivals. It became clear in the final 150yards that East had the race at her mercy, it was just a case of how far. Stephane made it look easy, just hands and heels were required. The pair were in tandem as East just powered towards the line. She left the others to fight for second because the win was East’s!! Relishing every yard of the 7f trip she powered home, with Stephane allowing himself the chance to check the big screen and ease up on board. By the time they hit the line East put 2 1/2 lengths between herself and the rest.
East showed her class in this performance and although people may like to question form, what was on show was a very good performance. Stephane rode the filly like it was a strong piece of work, never having to get too serious on board. He gave her a beautiful ride and educated the filly throughout the contest. East was only having her second run and she also had to take in the affects of travelling over to France. When she lost her position turning for home it could have easily knocked her confidence, especially with her lack of experience. It was her class and the class of Stephane that allowed her to just take her time and then quicken up when needed. There is only one thing now for East and it will be to tackle Group1 company. Obviously this is another big step up and she will need to improve again but she couldn’t have won this any easier. East has a top pedigree and she is improving with every day that passes. The Breeder’s Cup Fillies Juvenile Turf or Criterium International at Longchamp are the two most probable races that she will be aimed for. One thing is for sure, East is a Beast!!!