Hopes N Dreams won eight times at Hamilton, so much so the she now has a race and bar named after her at the Scottish track. Her daughter Princess Des Sables is already on the way to breaking that record. Having made her debut at the track, finishing second, she has now racked up 3 wins on the bounce at the track. With 2 wins in Nursery qualifiers, Princess Des Sables completed the hat-trick by taking the 6f BB Foodservice 2-Y-O Series Final.
Although it is not something that Kevin really thought about, it was strange that the race that came along for Sables to make her debut was at Hamilton. The debut second was a fine effort and showed not only did the filly have ability but she could handle the intricacies of the Scottish track. With following two runs again showing promise but yielding no wins, it seemed like fate had stepped in to ensure Sables would head back to Hamilton to try and emulate her mother.
The BB Foodservice nursery series is a great collection of races which offer qualification to the finale. With a good prize fund on offer throughout and with Sables showing her ability to handle the track, Kevin felt it was obvious to have a crack at these traces. Shedding her maiden tag on her handicap debut, Princess Des Sables utilised her handy mark to win off a mark of just 68. Raised 6lb for the win she would return in 3 weeks time to tackle another qualifier over C&D. The result was the same, a smooth win and another qualifier in the bag. The handicapper this time gave her a further 4lb, to a new mark of 78 which she would have to contend with when going for the series final just 2 weeks later.
Shane Gray had been on board from day one and travelled up to continue the partnership. The finale was an open handicap for horses who had raced in any of the qualifiers throughout the season, so this would again be a step up in grade. There were some familiar names in the line up with a few of her rivals back again having finished behind Princess Des Sables in her two wins over C&D. With her previous couple of runs she could easily have been favourite but the Richard Fahey trained Baronial Pride brought a level of form above anything else and would be the 9/4f over Princess Des Sables at 3/1.
Not only has Princess Des Sables inherited her mother’s love of Hamilton but also her simplistic running style. Jumping well, as always, Sables was straight into stride and going forward down the centre of the track. It was the outsider who took them along at a strong gallop so Shane just tagged on to their heels, getting a nice toe. The favourite was giving his big rival plenty of ground as he was held up towards the rear. You could see the ground was testing with plenty of turf kicking up as the field bowled along downhill.
It was clear the pace was strong with the field stretched out from almost the first furlongs. Princess Des Sables was always at the forefront and always travelling smoothly as they hurtled through the first half of the race. Princess Des Sables was producing a carbon copy of her previous wins although the ground was a new factor. She had enjoy good, the good to soft but this was even more testing and would certainly add to the test that the uphill finish produces.
Blink and you would have missed it as they passed the halfway point. Already there was some of the field having to work. Most were some of the outsiders but favourite Baronial Pride was getting the hurry up to close the gap to the leaders. Shane was sat pretty out chasing the leader with his filly easily cruising along. Between the 3f and 2f poles each of the jockeys, one by one, got lower into the saddle to get their mounts quacking up. Shane didn’t have to move a muscle and Princess Des Sables pressed the leader with ease.
Passing the 2f marker and Shane had a few decisions to make. Little was getting into the contest but the Fahey pair Baronial Pride and Lightning Attack were the two who could pose a danger in the finish. Shane knew that the leader was the outsider and he questioned just how long they could toe him into the race. He knew he would have to go soon but then had to weigh that up with the testing finish, the ground and just how hard it would be for the filly to do it on her own. He held on as much as possible getting as close as he could to the leader without going past. Lightning Attack was closing on the far side and now the favourite had started to come from out of the pack, although still had a few lengths to make up.
Princess Des Sables still travelled powerfully but Shane knew he just had to go. There was 1 1/2f to run but with the leader unable to carry him any further Shane couldn’t dissapoint his filly. Although he got into his drive it was still not a full 100%, with the strong gallop and stiff finish firmly in his mind. Trying to reserve as much energy as possible Shane coaxed his filly to take the lead and attempt to break clear. The long time leader gave way passing the furlong pole leaving Princess Des Sables with the lead and Lightning Attack poised on her outer. The favourite was now starting to hit top gear and the rising ground would test the heart of these three juveniles.
With the gauntlet being thrown down Shane now asked for everything his filly had to repel the threat. Lightning Attack had pulled up to within a neck of the lead whilst Baronial Pride was eating the ground up. The ground rose up and energy was sapped from the tired legs of the horses. In her now trademark fashion, Princess Des Sables stuck her head down and stretched every sinew as much as she could. Bravely she fought and found some more coming up the hill. It was going to be close but there was no way she was to be passed. Giving every ounce of effort she could Princess Des Sables repelled the challenge, hanging on to a neck margin to take the series final.
Princess Des Sables showed great speed but also a terrific attitude. Being towards the front throughout she was always in the firing line and had to tough it towards the line. It is one of the hardest things for a horse to do and does take a brave one to do it. It has been a great season for the filly and especially owners Mr J Chua and C K Ong, who not only own but bred the filly. It is always extra special when this happens and Princess Des Sables does bring back some fond memories of her mother, who sadly died. With the high cruising speed that Princess Des Sables shows there is no doubt she could even come back to 5f if the right race came up. She has shown she handles the soft conditions which is always good for this time of year. The handicapper will certainly add a few more pounds to her but in this vein of form and with her heart, Princess Des Sables will a tough nut to crack.