Kimochi gets the head down in Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes

Kimochi (inside) digs deep to claim Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes. Photo: RacingNSW

Kimochi (+550) has finally returned to the winners’ enclosure after getting the head down in a photo finish to claim the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.

The daughter of Brave Smash had remained winless since March 2023, heading into the weekend, but found the minor money on all seven occasions since that victory before being tipped out for a spell.

The Gary Portelli-trained filly had trailed exceptionally well alongside the eventual runner-up, Learning To Fly (+320) in the lead-up, suggesting she was ready for a first-up tilt.

It was a perfect steer by Jason Collett, who had already found a black type victory early in the day with Semana in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes, adding to an outstanding day for the New Zealand hoop.

Collett tracked his rivals from a mid-field position as Facile (+1200) bowled along on speed to out some pace into the race, while Learning To Fly and Tiz Invincible (+360) had no choice but to be dragged back from their wider draws.

Kristilli (+1700) travelled up three-wide under Zac Lloyd and, at one stage, looked to have the better of his opposition, before the pair of Kimochi and Learning To Fly sat down to fight out the finish.

It was the former getting the verdict in the end, gaining a slightly more economical run in transit, while Chad Schofield had to weave a passage when the race went on.

Stefi Magnetica (+2500) deserves an honourable mention, running into fourth place and taking a big step up in grade on Saturday.

It was a much-deserved win in the end for Kimochi, as a group of patient owners were rewarded with the major portion of the $300,000 prize.

2024 Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes Replay – Kimochi

Gary Portelli was on course for the victory and was happy to speak on behalf of his elated team, giving the impression that the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1600m) would be the next major target.

“I tell you, it’s an amazing feeling,” exclaimed Portelli.

“I thought when the second horse (Learning To Fly) moved up I thought ‘here we go again, it’s going to get beat again.’ I was ready for the sad story, but she fought strongly, and we’re in for a big prep.

“She’s got that tenacity, hasn’t she? She’s come off the carpet there; I thought she was gone for sure. I love this filly.

“She only had two weeks off after she went deep into the preparation, had to go to Caulfield and try to win a Group 1 there, and ran another second. She hasn’t had much time to furnish, so we’re dealing with the same horse we had when she went for a spell, which is difficult.

“But just goes to show we have a great team at home; they are able to keep this filly together and fit on the day.”

Jason Collett spoke again post-race and said he looks forward to partnering with Kimochi if they elect to head towards the Surround Stakes.

“That gate was a huge help,” said Collett.

“She was able to sit a pair closer, whereas last prep we just seemed to be getting there at the line, but just not close enough. Great to come back, she only had a short let-up too so very good.

“The Group 1 (Surround Stakes) in two weeks. That’s not my job; I will leave it to Gary (Portelli) to place her, but it does look like a really good option.”

Kimochi is currently on the second line of betting at +500 in the Group 1 Surround Stakes market with top online bookmakers.

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