Fangirl spoils Espiona’s return in the Light Fingers Stakes

Fangirl edges out stablemate Espiona in the Light Fingers Stakes. (Photo: Lisa Grimm)

It was the race that everyone waited for on Saturday, as boom filly Espiona returned for her autumn campaign, but it was her stablemate Fangirl who spoilt the party, taking out the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes in a terrific battle up the Randwick straight.

The Chris Waller pair were expected to be in the finish, but it was Fangirl ($14) who got the better of the odds-on favourite.

Waller declared both Espiona and Fangirl as the new fillies on the block prior to the race, given they both bypassed traditional three-year-old fillies races in the spring.

“She is a talented filly and we saw what she did down at Flemington on Derby Day, which is never easy for a filly to beat those boys and she did that easily,” Waller said.

“She won with a bit of class today too.

“I haven’t watched the replay yet, but I don’t think Hugh (Bowman) got too urgent with her, it was a bit of hands and heels and away she went.

“It will be interesting to see what comes from the race and how much they both improve, and obviously others in the race as well. I think she has got a bright future and no disgrace Espiona.”

Both fillies are now set for what will be a highly-anticipated rematch in the Group 1 Surround Stakes, which will be run over 1400m at Royal Randwick on February 26.

Although Waller has been one to split his horses in the past, especially at the highest level, he said post-race that he will give the people what they want, which he believes is “to see the best horses racing”.

I don’t think there is any diverting, which is great,” he said.

“We saw some good prizemoney boosts and some great initiatives again through the week and I think what people really want to see is the best horses racing.

“Get the best ones racing on the same day, it’s a big plus and in two weeks’ time it will be on in the Surround Stakes.”

Hugh Bowman followed James McDonald and Espiona everywhere they went rounding the bend, before getting the final shot at the favourite and Jamaea in the final strides to win by a head.

Fangirl had a terrific spring carnival, which culminated in a dominant three-length victory in the Carbine Club Stakes at Flemington on VRC Derby Day.

Having gained a terrific ride under Bowman, the filly didn’t have the whip used on her as the champion rider didn’t want to lose any momentum as she squeezed through a winning gap.

“I didn’t anticipate that happening (finding the favourite’s back on straightening). I didn’t know where James was going to be in the run,” Bowman said.

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