“She Looked Like A Moose At The Sales” – Group 1 Plans For 5k Purchase

Stephen Hillen | Tattersalls 

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Bloodstock agent Stephen Hillen has recalled how Sunday's G2 Dahlia S. winner Via Sistina (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) would not have won any beauty pageants as a yearling but revealed a certain amount of thinking outside of the box has led to him dreaming of big-race riches with the George Boughey-trained mare. 

Via Sistina couldn't have been more impressive at Newmarket on Sunday. She travelled into the race like a dream under Jamie Spencer, a good friend of Hillen's, and won going away by six lengths without having to be asked too many questions in the saddle. 

It was a performance that screamed quality and Hillen, who is better known for finding top-notch prospects for clients in his role as a bloodstock agent, is being rewarded for playing the long game with the horse he picked up for just 5,000gns at the December Yearling Sales in 2019. 

“She was a giant as a yearling,” Hillen recalled. “She is probably close to 17 hh at present. But she looked like a moose at the sales–big and backward. 

“Those Fastnet Rocks can be an acquired taste sometimes but she has grown into herself and you wouldn't call her an unattractive mare now.”

He added, “I often buy a filly one year and flip it the next and we've raced good fillies like Haggle (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) before. 

“There have been several fillies we have done the job with, in that we bought them without black-type and, once we got it, sold them on the following year. 

“Listen, I like to race them and, if I spot something I like and have no order to fill, I'll just buy it within reason.”

Via Sistina races in the colours of Hillen's wife Becky. Those purple and pink silks were also carried by Haggle, Four White Socks (GB) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) and Banzari (GB) (Motivator {GB}), while Hillen has been involved with classy fillies Statement (Ire) (Lawman {Fr}) and La  Dragontea (GB) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) as well. 

Hillen is in little doubt that there is more to come from his latest runner and confirmed that Via Sistina will not be sold on until the end of this campaign at least. The G1 Pretty Polly S. awaits.

He said,  “Jamie was very positive about her but he's always loved that filly ever since he got on her. She'd been threatening to do something like that but you just don't expect it. Jamie even went to Toulouse to ride her last year. 

“Ordinarily, he wouldn't go all the way there for a Group 3, but I was just fearful if something went wrong and I really wanted to win a Group race with her. It was at the end of the year, too, which is why she may not have been as impressive as she can be that day, and she was also a bit keen on a tight track.”

Hillen added, “That was only her ninth start on Sunday-some horses run nine times in a year. We'll probably race her until the end of the year at least and then make a plan. We're going to try and have a bit of fun with her. If the ground is on the slow side, she'll probably go to the Pretty Polly. She's a Group 2 winner now so the natural step is to go and try and win a Group 1. It's exciting. It would be a dream to win a Group 1 with her.”

 

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