Trainer Ciaron Maher’s decision to run Loving Gaby against the older sprinters paid dividends when the filly powered to the line to win the Group 1 $1m Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley on Friday night.
Maher decided against stepping Loving Gaby up to 1600m and his decision to take on the older horses at weight for age over the 1200m proved to be spot on.
“She got to a mile first prep just on ability. She came back she was a bit stronger and her work was really sharp,” Maher said.
“I thought she might bring herself undone going to the mile this time around and when she worked so well her and ran so well here first up, we thought we would roll the dice with the weight drop.
“She’s always had the ability, and last prep she was very unlucky in a couple of Group 1s, so to get the job done is a credit to everybody.”
“I just wasn’t confident going to the mile without having another run and when this race came up, it was winnable.”
The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace trained Loving Gaby ($7) only had to carry 51kg under the weight for age scale and a first class ride from Craig Williams saw the three year old filly shoot the gates and land up in the box seat.
Williams held his nerve in a tightly packed field on the home turn and then eased the filly across the heels of the leader to hit the line hard.
Loving Gaby moved away from the runner up, West Australian Vital Silver ($31), to record a three quarters of a length win with the other three year old filly in the race, Anaheed ($12), who stuck on gamely for third after racing outside of the leader, Faatinah ($26).
The James Cummings trained odds on favourite Bivouac ($1.80) was caught in on the fence behind Loving Gaby and failed to find daylight at any stage in the straight and wound up in sixth spot, two and a half lengths from the winner.