Marvellous Marva going from strength to strength
MARVELLOUS MARVA must have been the most improved horse in training last year, moving from non-winners-of-two to open allowance in eight starts - her last two victories recorded up in class.
The mare, who appeared to be a one-paced sluggard as a three-year-old, transformed into a dangerous middle-distance runner at four last season, closing the year by beating overnight and open allowance in back-to-back victories.
Making her 2018 debut in Saturday's Alexander Hamilton Trophy, her second bite at open allowance, MARVELLOUS MARVA comes in at a paperweight 52 kilos with two-kilo claiming Anthony Thomas, boasting recent victories over BLUE DIXIE and SOY EL SENOR, her main rivals in the 1600-metre event.
AWESOME DESTINY, the other proven distance runner in the six-horse field, had to depend on a New Year's Day drop in class to beat DONTAE and DYSFUNCTIONAL at 1820 metres after being humbled by stablemate BLUE DIXIE at a mile, 12 days earlier.
That leaves two other runners in the mix, both sprinters. Up-in-class ZEPYHR, whose connections should not confuse a light horse rallying at 1100 metres with a mile race in, which she will only be six pounds shy, and topweight SIEMPRE BUENO, giving away weight to run-on horses.
Not only has MARVELLOUS MARVA improved significantly in her races, she has become an exercise freak, clocking 59.3 on the round course last Sunday, the fastest of nine workouts at the distance that morning.
The grey mare has made a mockery of United States-bred BLUE DIXIE, not once, but twice in a month and a half, chasing and powering past ORPHEUS in her last victory, coming home a length and a half clear of SOY EL SENOR in the Gladiator Trophy at 1400 metres.
A mile is right up MARVELLOUS MARVA's street, having clocked 1:44.0 for eight and a half furlongs in November's Harry Parsard Trophy, a race in which she posted a mile split of 1:36.3 after stalking six furlongs in 1:11.3.
The 1000-metre straight co-feature Eight thirty Sprint for maiden two-year-old fillies has two fancied horses with contrasting displays of form.
Unraced in four months, ALEXANDRA has shown form on the exercise track, posting good times from the gate, whereas PRINCESS ZELLA showed what she is capable of by leading LICI'S PEPSI and company for five furlongs on debut at 1300 metres two weeks ago.
PRINCESS ZELLA is a half-sister to quick PAPA ALBERT with speed stallion NUCLEAR WAYNE as her sire. Her trainer, Patrick Lynch, is a shrewd dude who knows exactly when to press the right buttons on his runners. PRINCESS ZELLA's debut run, at 1300 metres, her breeding considered, wasn't one of those days.