Argentia comes from the clouds to claim Kevin Hayes Stakes

Argentia ridden by Mark Zahra returns to the mounting yard after winning the SENET Kevin Hayes Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse on February 12, 2022 in Caulfield, Australia. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

The Kevin Hayes Stakes was taken out in breath-taking fashion by rising star Argentia, in what was a last stride victory.

Jockey Mark Zahra took the filly back to a clear last from the outside alley before coming to the outside in the straight to unleash a powerful finish in what was only her third time at the races.

The Anthony & Sam Freedman-trained filly put the writing on the wall last winter when winning impressively on debut down the Flemington straight.

She then disappointed when starting favourite at her next at Moonee Valley, but had excuses, as she pulled up lame on that occasion.

The win was all the more impressive considering the father-son training duo didn’t have her fully wound up for a first-up win.

“She pulled up with an issue after The Valley, we were bitterly disappointed there”, said Sam Freedman when speaking to after the race.

“She probably wasn’t screwed down for this.

“She was very fresh in the yard, she was having a good sweat.

“I thought she might’ve peaked at the 200m.

“She’s a very, very good filly.”

The win has opened up options for the Frankel filly, who races like she will get over further than the 1200m of today’s event.

This is backed up by the fact that she is out of a mare who won up to 2400m. She is nominated for a number of Group races in both Melbourne and Sydney, including the Australian Guineas (1600m) and Queen of the Turf Stakes (1600m).

The promising filly has also been entered in the Surround Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on February 26. If the Freedman partnership elect to go this way, we could see a mouth-watering clash with boom filly Espiona.

“We’ve got some decisions to make now with where we head with her”, said Freedman in relation to the next steps in her preparation.

“She’s got a very bright future.

“She’s probably going to improve again next preparation.”

Zahra was also full of praise after dismounting from the filly.

“She’s a very good filly.

“Halfway up the straight I thought, [she’s] probably feeling the pinch a bit here, she’ll just run into third. She’s got a will to win.

“When she got a sniff of victory she took it, and she won well.”

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