Classy colt Sword Of State displayed all of his fighting qualities when he downed speedy mare Babylon Berlin to win the Group 3 Haunui Farm King’s Plate (1200m) at Ellerslie, after the pair went head-to-head over the final 300m of the contest.
Sporting the colours of Brendan and Jo Lindsay, who co-own the son of Snitzel, Sword Of State was handily away for rider Leith Innes as the pair settled in third behind pacemakers Babylon Berlin and Iconic Star.
The two mares went at a breakneck speed with Iconic Star first to drop off as Sword Of State leveled up to challenge Babylon Berlin shortly after straightening for the run home.
The pair went at it hammer and tongs with first one and then the other looking to have the upper hand.
Innes called on all the colt’s reserves in the final 50m to thrust his head in front to take the victory in an electric 1.08.17 for the 1200m journey, one of the quickest times run at the venue since Diamond Lover set the track record of 1.07.73 back in 1987.
Trainer Jamie Richards was wiping the sweat from his brow as he provided his thoughts on the victory.
“Babylon Berlin is a class mare, but our guy was in for the fight,” Richards said.
“I thought Leith gave him a lovely ride and I am very proud of the way he went.
“He showed he is a proper sprinter who is bound for the breeding barn at some stage.”
Sword Of State had resumed with a comfortable win in the Group 3 Almanzor Trophy (1200m) at Ellerslie on Karaka Million night after returning home from an indifferent three-start campaign in Sydney during the spring where he came up against some of the leading Australian three-year-olds including the Chris Waller-trained Home Affairs.
Richards was hesitant to confirm whether the colt would head back to Australia for a second campaign but hinted it may still be on the cards at some stage.
“We’ll just have a think about that (a return to Australia) over the next little while as we don’t need to make those sorts of decisions today,” he said.
“Obviously, the Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (Group 3, 1200m) is over here for him, which would be a lovely race, but we will let Brendan (Lindsay), Dave (Ellis) and the boys have a talk about that and come up with some plans.
“We’ll just enjoy today and worry about the rest tomorrow.”
Innes, who took the ride following the suspension of regular pilot Opie Bosson, revealed he had to dig deep on the colt to get the win.
“He is a really neat horse to ride as he gives you such a good feel,” he said.
“He had to dig deep as the mare had us on toast there for a bit.
“He is a champion little colt and although I was getting there slowly, it all worked out at the end.
“He loves it here in New Zealand and at Ellerslie and he is only three, so he has a lot ahead of him moving forward.”
Purchased by Te Akau’s David Ellis from the Gold Coast yearling sale, Sword Of State is raced by the Te Akau 2020 Four Colts Breeding Syndicate, where Cambridge Stud are the majority shareholders.
Crowned New Zealand Champion two-year-old for the 2020/2021 season, Sword Of State has now won six of his 10 starts including the Group 1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) and the Group 3 Waikato Stud Slipper (1200m) last season.