High-flying mare Express Yourself took a big step towards the sprinting big time with another dominant performance in the $50,000 Woodridge Homes (1100m) at Trentham on Friday.
It was the fourth win in succession for the five-year-old Shamexpress mare, who had previously won in Rating 65 grade at Awapuni in April, in Rating 75 company at the same venue in late September, and against a talented Rating 75 line-up on Livamol Classic Day at Hastings on October 14.
Friday’s race at Trentham was the first appearance in open company for Express Yourself, who was ridden by apprentice jockey Jim Chung and bounded away from her five opponents to win by four and a half lengths.
From 12 starts, Express Yourself has now recorded five wins and three placings. She has earned more than $122,000 in stakes for a big group of owners along with Awapuni trainer Nikki Hurdle, who bought her for only $6,550 on Gavelhouse.com in August of last year.
“She’s the only one that I’ve got in work at the moment, and she’s a horse that I’m really quite excited about,” Hurdle said. “She never lets us down. She just keeps coming out and performing, and she seems to really enjoy what she does as well, which is such a big part of it.
“She really showed her class today, I thought. I was a bit worried about the (Soft5) track, but then when I saw them run 1:09 in the early part of the day I thought it couldn’t be too bad.
“It’s been an amazing ride with a horse that we managed to buy for only $6500 on Gavelhouse. I’d seen her win a trial beforehand and thought she looked like quite a nice horse, so I couldn’t believe it when I saw that she was for sale. I was willing to spend quite a bit more to buy her, but we managed to get her for only $6500. Michael Moran bred her, and he called me the next day and said, ‘You’ve bought yourself a really nice horse.’ It’s looking like he was right.”
Hurdle will now continue to raise the bar with Express Yourself – potentially culminating in a Group One assignment at the same venue as Friday’s big win.
“Next up, we’ll probably head towards the race that used to be known as the Levin Stakes,” she said. “It’s a 1200m race at Otaki worth $80,000 and it seems like a nice next step.
“I thought about the Stewards’ Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Riccarton, but it’s a big trip down there and it’s only for one or two races, and then you often can’t do anything with them for quite a while after they get back from a trip like that.
“It’s similar with the Railway (Gr.1, 1200m) up north. There’s a lot of travel involved, and you have to make two trips – firstly to give the horse a run that way around, and then going back up there again for the race itself.
“So the race I really want to have a crack at with her is the Telegraph (Gr.1, 1200m) at Trentham in January, and that win today was a very pleasing step in that direction.
“I’m under no illusions about how hard that race is going to be to win – especially at weight-for-age. Back when it was a handicap, she could have snuck into the race way down at the bottom of the weights. Now she’ll have 56.5kg, like all the others.
"She’s a big, strapping horse who can carry the weight, but I’m mindful that there’ll be some very good horses on the same weight as her. It’s not going to be easy, but she’s done everything we could have asked of her so far, and she’s given us no reason not to have a go at it.”