Libertini sets new season benchmark in Group 2 stroll

Mother nature, congestion, circumstance and tempo disaffect times in races yet when something as significant as Libertini's 1:07.93 seconds for 1200 metres at Randwick sits on the record, punters should take heed.

On Saturday in the Group 2 Darley Silver Shadow, the I Am Invincible filly smashed the 1200m Randwick class record and established herself as benchmark 3-year-old of the spring ... on Winx Stakes day to boot!

Easy; Libertini strolls away with the G2 Silver Shadow Stakes. Vision: Racing NSW

Backed as though the Sunday's details page had already been published, Libertini was not extended to win by 2 1/4 lengths from a late-closing and impressive Flit and Let It Pour.

While the margin was decisive, it could have been so much more. The eye can deceive but the clock rarely lies and her time of 1:07.93 was around four lengths quicker than any other 3-year-old filly has run over the 1200m at Randwick and less than half a second shy of the overall track record set by five-time Group 1 winning sprinter Santa Ana Lane.

When the rail moves away from the normal position at Randwick (it was out 4m on Saturday), times can be somewhat misleading but this lass is the real deal.

Gerry's other baby

Libertini's Group 2 win at Randwick would have delighted owner Gerry Harvey and her star is shining very brightly but don't pass over another of the Harvey herd without serious consideration.

Three year-old Fisticuffs (Redoute's Choice - Sucker Punch) broke though at Ipswich on Wednesday (at start three) against moderate company, winning by 2 1/2 lengths without jockey Ryan Maloney getting overly vigorous.

After a moderate getaway from a wide gate, Fisticuffs tracked leader Presizzling to the point of the turn and simply strode away. At $1.18 punters were not going to quickly diminish a mortgage but he did enough to suggest his next essay will be in stronger company at Eagle Farm or Doomben on a Saturday card.

Tuesday trials

While Samadoubt secured the new racing season's first Group 1 on Saturday in a boilover, the best sprinters in the land are yet to be fully wound up.

The trek to The Everest amps up on Tuesday, however, with Sunlight having her second official barrier trial this preparation.

She steps out over 1000 metres on Randwick's course proper in a trial of genuine substance.

Measured alongside the Group 1 Newmarket winner will be the exciting Classique Legend, Osborne Bulls, last season's G1 JJ Atkins winner Prince Fawaz and Matthew Smith's Summer Cup winner Fierce Impact.

Chris Waller's Queensland Guineas winner Kolding, unbeaten in four starts last time in as a gelding, has his second trial for his spring assault. He finished fifth of seven to Prophet's Thumb over 893 metres at Rosehill on August 20 and it will be interesting to see his program unfolds.

In full flight: Kolding steps out in his second offical barrier trial at Rosehill on Tuesday. Picture: waikatostud.com

In full flight: Kolding steps out in his second offical barrier trial at Rosehill on Tuesday. Picture: waikatostud.com

The four year-old was stretched out to 1600m to secure the Guineas at Eagle Farm and the Epsom on October 5 looks a suitable. The Golden Eagle (November 2 over 1500m at Rosehill) offering $7.5 overall then whets the appetite.

The first of 16 trials gets underway at 8.15am with many unraced two and three year-olds getting valuable field experience.

Tough times

The ongoing drought has far reaching effects into the community and the state of the track has forced Racing NSW's hand in moving the Cessnock meeting scheduled for September 5 to the Beaumont track in Newcastle and Tamworth's September 9 meeting to Scone.

What is intangible is if (or when) tracks in the parched western districts will become too hard to sustain racing ... and will there be other nearby facilities to transfer to?

Three emerging Country Championships contenders

Three 'new kids on the block' have emerged following the announcement by Racing NSW of the 2020 dates and venues for the highly-successful Country and Provincial Championships.

Coffs Harbour, Nowra and Coonamble have each been handed their first hosting of a regional $150,000 Country Championships Qualifier.

The Country Championships series will again be run on six Sundays and two Saturdays before culminating in the $500,000 Final at Royal Randwick Racecourse on Saturday 4 April.

Coffs Harbour, Nowra and Coonamble replace Grafton, Goulburn and Dubbo, each of whom had staged a regional Qualifier since the inaugural Country Championships. The Mid North Coast Qualifier returns to Taree next year.

"This is an unbelievable boost for Coffs Harbour Racing Club to host its second $150,000 race in around six months [Coffs Harbour Cup run on 1 August], and for the whole Coffs Coast community," said Tim Saladine, CHRC Chief Executive.

"And it's a great testament to the track, our staff, board and sponsors. Racing NSW continues to deliver with this race restricted to horses trained in the Northern Rivers region and guarantees the first two across the line a spot in the $500,000 Final in Sydney.

"Being a Saturday in February [15th] we expect a massive crowd to attend another great social event on the Coffs calendar!"

Shoalhaven City Turf Club will stage its $150,000 Qualifier at Nowra on Sunday 16 February.

"Our Club is very excited about being selected as a venue for the 2020 Country Championships Series," said Lynn Locke, Chief Executive of the SCTC.

"We would like to acknowledge the great job done by Goulburn in the past for the South East Racing Association, but we are passionate in our belief that we can provide not only a great racing experience but an overall tourism experience in the Shoalhaven over this weekend.

"We will be working hard to ensure we provide a fair and safe racing surface. Overall we welcome and are thankful for the opportunity to be part of this great initiative by Racing NSW."

The Country Championships commences with a double header on the weekend of 15 and 16 February 2020, with Coffs Harbour (Northern Rivers) and Nowra (South East).

The second week of the series will be another double header at Albury (Southern Districts) and Taree (Mid North Coast) on 22 and 23 February.

The Central Districts Qualifier will be run at Mudgee on Sunday 1 March, the Hunter and North-West qualifier at Tamworth on Sunday 8 March with the regional Qualifiers rounded out with the Western Qualifier at Coonamble on Sunday 15 March.

The Wild Card will again be run 13 days prior to the Final at Muswellbrook Racecourse on Sunday 22 March.

Source: Racing NSW.

This story Star filly breaks the clock at Randwick first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.