Shoals will head to the 2017 Thousand Guineas Prelude in a fortnight after she returned to the races with a classy victory in the 2017 Atlantic Jewel Stakes at The Valley this afternoon.
Shoals won three races from as many starts in her maiden racing preparation and punters that backed her would have always been confident that she would make it four wins on the trot.
Blondie took up the running in the early stages of the Atlantic Jewel Stakes after Shoals pinned the gates and the Anthony Freedman-trained filly was able to trail the leader into the race.
Shoals quickly put the race away when she was asked for an extra effort by Mark Zahra, but the in-form jockey believes that the Fastnet Rock filly still has more to give.
“She is doing it half-hearted,” Zahra said.
“We wanted to ride her conservatively, but she flew out and when she gets to the front she just pricks her ears and doesn’t put them away.
“She is doing it pretty easy and if something challenged her she still had a lot more to give.
“Her coat has a bit to go and she is a bit burly, but we got a really soft run right on the speed and when we came to the bend I thought there was no way we were getting beaten.”
Trainer Anthony Freedman was hopeful that Shoals would make a winning return to the races, but like Zahra he believes that she will take plenty of benefit from the run.
Freedman confirmed that Shoals would have her next race start in the Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) and her performance in that would decide whether she presses on to the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on October 14.
“She is obviously a high-quality filly and if you get her right she seems to do the rest,” Freedman said.
“I think there is improvement – she had two jump-outs, but she hadn’t done that much on the track and I came here with the belief that she would improve on whatever she did.
“She will go to the Thousand Guineas Prelude in a few weeks and she should improve off today.
“I don’t know how she will handle the step-up in trip – she has only been at 1200 metres and the Guineas Prelude will tell us where we are going.”
Blondie toughed it out to finish second, while She’s So High ran on strongly to finish third.