There is something about Funstar that gets to champion trainer Chris Waller a little bit.
The star filly joined Winx on the honour roll of the Phar Lap Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday, much to Waller’s delight.
It was the fifth time in six years that Waller has won the group 2 with a filly – a run which started with Winx – but this win was special.
James McDonald has a peep over his shoulder as Funstar holds off Probabeel.Credit:AAP
“She is really good, very good,” Waller said. “She is better than a lot of good horses I have had at the same stage and age.
“If she can keep improving like most of our team do, we will be in business for a long time.
“She is obvious the rising star after Winx and others.”
Funstar ($1.55) did it from the front and James McDonald had the race under control a long way out as she chalked up win five from seven starts.
McDonald kept her on the bridle for as long as possible in the heavy conditions but, when her rival Probabeel ($3.20) slid up on the inside to challenge at the 200m, he released his grip to let Funstar race to 1¼ length victory, with Quick Thinker ($13) another 1½ lengths away in third.
It was an uncomfortable watch for Waller.
“Frontrunners are not really my specialty and I’m not really used to watching them, because they all run out of petrol at some stage. And I like to see my horse coming home,” he said.
“Just holding her together meant she got through that ground.
“It gave the others a chance to chase her, and it gave the others a chance to challenge her.
“So it was good to see her pull clear in the last 100 metres.”
The decision will be made in the next couple of days as to whether to follow the proven path to the Vinery Stud Stakes against the fillies or go to the Doncaster, where she only has 49 kilograms and is all ready exempt from the ballot as the Flight Stakes winner.
“If I have anything to with it, she won’t be going to the Doncaster,” said McDonald, who wouldn’t be able to make the 49 kilos.
“Her work this week has gone up a couple of notches. She is a weapon.
“She’s just a good horse and good horses can get you out of trouble. It’s probably not her go leading, but she just makes it look so easy and makes my job so easy.”
“Chris has won four of the last five runnings of this race, he certainly puts his good horses in it, which she certainly is. She’ll go to the Vinery and be hard to beat.”
Probabeel was brave coming from last on the turn to challenge Funstar, who she beat last start in the group 1 Surround Stakes. Kerrin McEvoy thinks with firm ground she could make it interesting against Funstar in the Vinery.
"Just wanted to ride her comfortable early. The pace wasn’t that strong and she picked up really well," McEvoy said. "I cut the corner and got into the race and she was really good.
"We were a bit concerned about her handling the ground but she got through it well enough, so a really credible run.”
Funstar was the middle pin of group winning treble for Waller and McDonald following Star Of The Seas late charge to victory in the Maurice McCarten Stakes and Imaging's success in the Ajax Stakes.
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