Still a Star strikes again for Toronado

Tasmanian filly Still A Star provided Toronado (IRE) with his second stakes win when the three-year-old scored a five length victory in the Launceston Guineas (21000) on Saturday.

It was back-to-back Listed victories for the filly who also won the Listed Tasmania Guineas (1600m) at her previous start at Launceston on January 4 to give the Swettenham Stud stallion his first stakes victory.

Toronado, which was shuttled back to France in December, quinallaed Saturday’s Guineas when gelding Heaven’s Bonus finished second to the $1.65 favourite.

Still A Star was purchased by Longford trainer Bill Ryan for $13,000 at the Tasmanian Magic Millions Yearling Sale when offered by local breeder Catherine Hills of Alva Stud.

With five wins and five seconds from her 10 starts, Still A Star has already collected $261,190 in prizemoney.

Ryan said there were plenty of targets for Still A Star in the coming weeks – the Tasmanian Derby at Hobart on January 31, the Strutt Stakes at Elwick on February 9 and the $150,000 Tasmanian Oaks at Mowbray on February 23.

“The Oaks was always my aim, but the way she was racing I wasn’t afraid of taking on the boys on Saturday,” Ryan said.

“She was just too good for them. There was a 1000 Guineas next Wednesday which is worth 50 grand but it’s not a listed race but this race was listed and worth 100 grand so it didn’t take an Einstein to know which way to go.

“I have nominated her for the Tasmanian Derby (2200m) over here at Hobart and she will beat all the boys here unless they bring something special from the mainland.

His options include the Tasmanian Derby on January 31, the Strutt Stakes on February 9 and the $150,000 Tasmanian Oaks on February 23.

Ryan said at this stage he wasn’t in any hurry to chuck the filly on the boat and head to Melbourne.

“She is a great little horse,” he said.

“I liked her when I saw her but the problem is that like most trainers I go to the sales and want to buy a box of gold rolled chocolates and not come home with a bag of boiled lollies in my price range.

“Anyone can go to the sales and pick out the best-bred yearling, but if you haven’t got the money to buy them then you can’t have them.

“When I go to the sales over here I look at every horse and I look for bargains and I know I can’t afford to buy the best-bred ones from the better mares and all that sort of thing.

“I go looking for a bargain. I liked her but she was very small and it almost put me off buying her. She was tiny but was a late foal, late in November.”

Ryan said he was instantly taken with the filly being a bold walker and says she still is and he finds it difficult to keep up with her on the lead.

He said she was a neat, athletic filly and the price was right for him.

“She might be pushing 15.2 and because she was so little I feed her right up when I first got her and gave her a chance to develop. I thought she was worth a try and luckily I got her.”

Swettenham Stud principal Adam Sangster said one of pleasing aspects of Toronado was his success with both fillies and colts because often as three year-olds there was a dominance with a certain sex.

“We are seeing a fairly even mix between colts and fillies,” Sangster said.

“People who can give them that little bit of time can be rewarded and we actually sent a yearling down to Tassie last year because we knew there were a couple of good ones there and we wanted to see how things went.

“They are good supporters in Tassie and they can breed a good racehorse and we are pretty excited to see what Still A Star can do.”

Sangster said that being a world champion miler, Toronado had shown that he can also throw 1200m and 1400m horses and also the ones from mare lines that are bred to get a trip can get that journey.

“You can get the best of both worlds and you are not pigeon-holed to pure sprinters and pure middle-distance horses and you can go either way,” he said.

Toronado’s current crop of yearlings from his third season at Swettenham are from his smallest book ever and not a huge number have gone through the sales, but the Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale with have the bulk of them.

There are three going through the sales in New Zealand, one in Perth, two in the Classic and while there are another couple spread out, the numbers aren’t big.

“It comes down to supply and demand and I think the demand will be quite high,” Sangster said.

“And supply is obviously limited for those yearlings and they will be pretty hot property.”

still a star as a yearling (Magic Millions)

After covering 97 mares in his third season, Toronado then had 167 in his fourth season and 197 last year when he was the most popular stallion in Victoria last year based on mares he covered. He was also the most popular shuttle horse in Australia.

Catherine Hills of Alva Stud, who bred Still A Star, said one of the reasons the filly went for the price she did was obviously because she was so small.

“And as we all know they don’t like them small at yearling sales,” Catherine said.

Still A Star’s dam, Lita (Casino Prince) has a Manhattan Rain filly which Catherine said is bigger and quite muscular.

Catherine said she had thought about sending the mare, which is in foal to Bolt D’Oro (USA), back to Toronado but the result might not be the same.

“I was really pleased that she was sold and the trainer has done a good job with her,” she said

“Everything was there but she was very small, but you don’t have to be big to be good but at a yearling sale it is a bit of a different matter.”

She has got five yearlings going through next month’s Tasmanian yearling sale.