Speed queen Stella to get Heart racing
EXCITING summer sprint finds Heart Conquered and Sei Stella will be asked the toughest questions of their emerging race careers when they clash at Randwick's Kensington meeting on Saturday.
Both lightly raced young speedsters have been absolutely brilliant in their recent wins and are the early favourites for the Summer Racing Handicap (1000m).
But can Heart Conquered translate his impressive wet-track form on to a dry surface?
And can Sei Stella negotiate the usually difficult transition from TAB Highway class to Sydney Saturday Benchmark racing?
The trainers of Heart Conquered and Sei Stella are cautiously optimistic about their chances ahead of the sprint showdown that could prove the race of the day.
Heart Conquered and Sei Stella are blessed with sheer, natural speed. They can roll along in front at a high cruising speed to get their rivals off the bit and chasing before the home turn, which is not often the case in 1000m races.
Michael Hawkes, the co-trainer of Heart Conquered, is convinced the three-year-old is just as effective on top of the ground despite his easy wins in heavy going over the Warwick Farm 1000m course at his past two starts.
"Heart Conquered is not just a wet-tracker,'' Hawkes said.
"He's done a great job in Sydney this summer with two starts for two wins and hopefully he can make it three.
"After his last-start win at Warwick Farm (December 22), he pulled up so well that we decided to give him another run this time in.
"He has done everything right in his training since Warwick Farm.''
Heart Conquered ($3 favourite) has scored all four of his career wins at 1000m, as has Sei Stella ($4).
With Sei Stella having run her rivals ragged to win a TAB Highway at Randwick on December 15, trainer Matthew Dale believes the four-year-old mare deserves a chance in better-grade races.
"I know it is a massive jump in class for her but she does come down 2.5kg so it is a gamble we are prepared to take,'' Dale said.
"She is basically a 1000m to 1100m horse at the moment so that restricts us to what races we can run her in.
"This will be a good test for her.''
Sei Stella likes to lead in her races, as does Heart Conquered, with the pair drawn alongside each other in barriers six and seven respectively.
It will be interesting to see who leads early, with Dale hinting that jockey Jay Ford would not be handing up to Tommy Berry on Heart Conquered.
"Sei Stella's speed is her greatest asset - she will always be very much an on-speed runner because she jumps and gets into stride so quickly,'' he said.
Dale said Sei Stella hadn't "missed a beat" since her Randwick win.
"She is jumping out of her skin,'' he said. "There is another race next week which might suit her better but that would mean giving her a month between runs.
"She is very fresh and ready to go back to the races.''
Although Heart Conquered and Sei Stella are at the top of betting, this is not a two-horse race by any means.
The Matthew Smith-trained Rebel Miss is another at her best over 1000m, where she has recorded three of her four career wins.
Rebel Miss, an $8 chance, is resuming but she has been brilliant in two recent barrier trials and she does perform fresh.
Wanna Get A What ($31) has won five races over 1000m, Difficult To Get ($13) is a four-time winner at the distance, $126 roughie Le Dejeuner has won three races, and Revenire ($6.50) from the Godolphin yard has never missed a place over the sprint trip in five attempts, winning twice.