Fastnet Rock's Via Sistina Survives Inquiry To Win The Pretty Polly

Via Sistina


Connections of Via Sistina (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}–Nigh {Ire}, by Galileo {Ire}) had an anxious wait to learn whether their star mare would keep Saturday's G1 Yulong Pretty Polly S. at The Curragh, but ultimately the inquiry accepted that Becky Hillen's uber-bargain 5,000gns Tatts December Yearling purchase was clear best despite causing significant interference. So impressive on her favoured rain-deadened ground in last month's G2 Dahlia S. at Newmarket, the George Boughey-trained 5-year-old who had also captured the G3 Prix Fille de l'Air in the autumn was confidently-supported into 6-4 favouritism despite racing on a livelier surface than ideal.

Held up in the last pair early by Jamie Spencer, she had to employ her lethal acceleration to get to Above The Curve (American Pharoah) in the straight and while she delivered that she also darted right and cut across Rosscarbery (Ger) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and Stay Alert (GB) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) in the process. Swooping on the lead a furlong from home, she stayed on powerfully to make the stewards' decision easier with her two-length winning margin over Stay Alert a fair reflection of her superiority. Above The Curve clung to third, 1 1/4 lengths further away, ending Ryan Moore's weekend winning streak.

“I had a plan to jump smartly, get up behind Ryan in third or fourth but she didn't and so the first thing was to get out and not to get stuck down the fence–I was on about Plan E at that stage,” Spencer explained. “She leaned in a bit early in the straight and obviously halfway down the straight, but she was much the best. I only had to give her one flick and she had her ears pricked for the last furlong. I wasn't very comfortable for the first six furlongs, but she came alive when she passed one and I was in business then. She's not hung before and you'd rather win more smoothly, but she's obviously a high-class filly. You pinch yourself after Newmarket and think, 'can she do that again?' but she has.”

Handled with aplomb as well as care throughout the fledgling stage of her career by the now-retired Joseph Tuite, the imposing Via Sistina nevertheless managed to flash considerable talent on more than one occasion when the soft ground prevailed. In hindsight, her odds of 12-1 when taking apart a Premier Fillies' Handicap at Newmarket in October 2021 were a gift and the fact that was only her fourth start is testament to her former trainer's patience and due diligence.

Tuite only got to campaign her twice more as the long dry spell dominated the European summer of 2022 and as the rain finally came back Boughey was to instantly reap the rewards of that cautious approach. Second in Newmarket's G3 Pride S. before winning Toulouse's Prix Fille de l'Air, she cut an awesome figure on her comeback in Newmarket's Dahlia, handing Al Husn (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) a six-length thrashing which on Friday evening was made to look even better as the Shadwell homebred mastered Nashwa (GB) (Frankel {GB}) at Newcastle.

While this ground was against her reproducing her amazing final three-furlong Dahlia split of 36.76 which was significantly faster than the following 1000 Guineas, Via Sistina proved that she is able to handle top company even in adversity. “It doesn't happen like that very often,” Stephen Hillen said. “That ground is probably as fast as she wants to run on. Jamie said they went really quick, he said he missed the break and was a bit far out of her ground but when she comes good she's just much better than them. She's taken time to come and has been minded–she's 17 hands, but that cross is close to 10% group one winners and stats don't lie.”

“She's very versatile, I think she can go a mile to a mile and a half,” Hillen added. “She likes going in a straight line as well, so she could come back to a mile for the [G1] Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket. After that there is the [G1] Nassau and she'll be in most of the big races. She's in the [G1] Yorkshire Oaks and the [G1] International at York. You wouldn't be risking her on anything with 'firm' in it, but when she gets soft ground again I can see her doing something special.”

Pedigree Notes
Via Sistina's unraced dam Nigh is kin to the G1 Golden Jubilee S. and G1 Nunthorpe S. hero Kingsgate Native (Ire) (Mujadil) and to the stakes-placed Vanishing Grey (Ire) (Verglas {Ire}) who is in turn the dam of the Listed Prix Millkom winner and G2 Zabeel Mile runner-up First Contact (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}). The third dam La Pellegrina (Ire) (Be My Guest) is a half-sister to the G1 1000 Guineas heroine Las Meninas (Ire) (Glenstal) from the family of the G2 Queen Mary S. and G2 Prix Robert Papin winner Signora Cabello (Ire) (Camacho {GB}). Nigh's 2-year-old colt by Ten Sovereigns (Ire) was a €90,000 purcase by Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock at the Arqana Deauville August Yearling Sale, while she also has a yearling filly by Bated Breath (GB) bought for just 20,000gns by Hurworth Bloodstock at the Tattersalls December Foal Sale.

Saturday, Curragh, Ireland
YULONG PRETTY POLLY S.-G1, €300,000, Curragh, 7-1, 3yo/up, f/m, 10fT, 2:06.17, gd.
1–VIA SISTINA (IRE), 136, m, 5, by Fastnet Rock (Aus)
1st Dam: Nigh (Ire), by Galileo (Ire)
2nd Dam: Native Force (Ire), by Indian Ridge (Ire)
3rd Dam: La Pellegrina (Ire), by Be My Guest
1ST GROUP 1 WIN. (5,000gns Ylg '19 TADEYG). O-Mrs R G Hillen; B-Laundry Cottage Stud Farm (IRE); T-George Boughey; J-Jamie Spencer. €180,000. Lifetime Record: GSW-Eng & Fr, 10-5-1-1, $392,951. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree, or the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Stay Alert (GB), 136, f, 4, Fastnet Rock (Aus)–Starfala (GB), by Galileo (Ire). 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK TYPE. O-Ben & Sir Martyn Arbib; B-Arbib Bloodstock Partnership (GB); T-Hugh Morrison. €60,000.
3–Above The Curve, 136, f, 4, American Pharoah–Fabulous (Ire), by Galileo (Ire). O-Mrs J Magnier, M Tabor, D Smith & Westerberg; B-Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt (KY); T-Joseph O'Brien. €30,000.
Margins: 2, 1 1/4, 1 3/4. Odds: 1.50, 25.00, 3.20.
Also Ran: Rosscarbery (Ger), Trevaunance (Ire), Goldana (Ire), Never Ending Story (Ire), Insinuendo (Ire), Comhra (Ire).

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