Third Australian Stakes-Winner for Justify
Triple Crown hero Justify posted a third Australian stakes winner when blue-blood colt Air Assault (2c Justify x Elegant Eagle, by Zabeel) delivered on potential to win the Group III SAJC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) at Morphettville on Saturday.
A work in progress trained by Leon Macdonald Andrew Gluyas, Air Assault had been showing gradual improvement in previous runs with a last start fifth in the Group III SA Breeders Stakes giving connections optimism for a step out to 1400m.
Well ridden by Jason Holder, Air Assault worked forward to lead and once he settled into a rhythm was always going to be hard to catch.
He led for home and fought off all challengers to win by a long neck over the favourite Nodachi, breaking his maiden with a Group victory.
Passed in as a yearling and retained to race, Air Assault was bred by Harry Perks and partners and was raised at Mill Park in South Australia.
He is a half-brother to Group I ATC Champagne Stakes winner Go Indy Go (who also won the G3 SA Sires Produces Stakes), Group III winner Essay Raider and Group III placed Battle Brewing being the third stakes-winner among seven winners from outstanding producer Elegant Eagle.
“He stuck to his guns and has been looking for the 1400m,” said Andrew Gluyas.
“We’re always around the mark in this race with these emerging two year-olds. Elegant Eagle has been a great producer for us although she’s getting a bit long in the tooth, but along the way has left stayers, sprinters and all sorts of different horses.
“We’ll send him for a spell now and hopefully in the spring we’ll have the genuine article.”
A winning daughter of champion sire Zabeel, Elegant Eagle is a full sister to the dam of Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed from the family of Golden Slipper winner Ha Ha, so it’s a genuinely versatile family at the elite level.
Elegant Eagle was retired from stud duty at the start of this year.
Air Assault is the third Australian stakes-winner and tenth worldwide for Justify, whose first crop stats in Australia are looking very promising.
From 10 runners here, he has left five winners and three of them are stakes-winners.
Justify is set to be crowned Champion Australian First Season Sire and is back in Australia this spring at a fee of $77,000.