Stars on the Rise for Churchill
Churchill had a productive Saturday with a potential stakes-winner for the future at Caulfield in First Immortal (4g Churchill x Storm Siren, by Excites) and a new juvenile stakes-winner in the UK where talented filly Prime Art (2f Churchill x Mona Lisa's Smile, by War Front) captured the Group III Firth of Clyde Stakes (6f) at Ayr.
Mark and Levi Kavanagh have been very patient with progressive gelding First Immortal, who worked his way through his grades last season finishing with a win in the $200,000 VRC Mahogany Challenge Final in July over 2500m.
Given a short spell after that, First Immortal was second when resuming at Moonee Valley over a mile earlier this month and then relished the step back up to 2000m on Saturday to win the Benchmark 78 event by three and a half lengths.
First Immortal carried a whopping 63kg and winning rider Hugh Bowman was impressed with his effort.
"I can see him developing into a high class stayer. He's got a beautiful temperament, he's very natural. He jumped particularly well and I had the advantage of barrier one which always helps and he put himself there,” Bowman said.
“He's got the tactical speed if required and he's clearly got a turn of foot when asked the question. He lumped a pretty significant weight this afternoon to win with authority and I will be as interested as everyone to see how he progresses over the next six to 12 months."
A $160,000 Inglis Classic purchase for Kavanagh Racing from the Widden Stud draft, First Immortal has the overall record of seven wins from 13 starts with prizemoney topping $416,000.
Connections are dreaming of a Caulfield Cup start for First Immortal, although he is yet to be qualified for the race.
“For us today was a stepping stone for him to get out in trip,” said Levi Kavanagh.
“The next couple of weeks will be interesting and we just have to place him properly to get him there.”
Bred at Widden, First Immortal is the best of two winners from Storm Siren, a half-sister by Excites to Group I winner Hot King Prawn and Group III winner Siren’s Fury.
Churchill sired his 13th stakes-winner when the Johnny Murtagh trained two year-old filly Prime Art won the Group III Firth of Clyde Stakes by a length and three-quarters taking her overall record to two wins from four starts.
“Prime Art has a lot of potential and Johnny (Murtagh,) was happy with her at home. He found an ideal race and she duly went and obliged. She's a filly who will probably stay further. She showed a lovely turn of foot. Hopefully, her future is bright,” said winning rider Ben Curtis.
Prime Art was purchased for €110,000 at the Goffs Orby Yearling Sale and is the first foal of blueblood War Front mare Mona Lisa’s Smile, a winning sibling to Group I winners Horation Nelson and Van Gogh, plus Group winners Viscount Neslon, Kitty Matcham and Point Piper.
Mona Lisa’s Smile is from Champion 3YO Filly Imagine, a half-sister to European Horse of the Year Generous, so Prime Art really is bred in the purple.
Churchill is back in Australia this spring at a fee of $22,000.