Sabatini smashes them again!

Gabriela Sabatini was one of the top tennis players of her era, a US Open winner with a best world ranking of number three and a silver medal winner at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

Whether the three-year-old filly named in her honour ever will ever reach the equine equivalent of those heights is open to question.

But one thing that cannot be gainsaid is that the Lee and Shannon Hope-trained youngster is improving and might be good enough to chase group 1 honours in Sydney in the autumn against the older mares in a race like the Coolmore Classic.

Sabatini, a daughter of Street Cry, was winning at group level for the second time in a fortnight when she scored in the 1400m group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday, having previously won the group 3 Kevin Hayes over 1200 metres at the same venue.

The Nick Hall-partnered filly, the $3.30 favourite, won cosily by a length from $5 chance Fontein Ruby, with the $15 outsider Samartested a short half head away third.

Horses have been called many things by jockeys, but very clever and highly intelligent are adjectives seldom employed. But it’s how Hall described the progressive Sabatini, who ran third in the group 1 Thousand Guineas in the spring and was scoring for the fourth time in eight starts on Saturday.

“She’s highly diverse, a very good horse, probably suited to 1400 metres again next start… there is some improvement to come. I think she has strengthened up a lot,” said Hall.

Shannon Hope was pleased with the progress the filly is showing.

“I feel there is more improvement in her. We will see whether we back up in the Kewney [at Flemington in a fortnight], the Coolmore (1500 metres) is an option or we might freshen and, it might be a bit ambitious, have a look at the Sangster [over 1200 metres in Adelaide],” Hope said.

“She’s improved from the last campaign, mentally and physically a lot stronger and probably had a bit of luck with barrier draws too.

“Every time we raise the bar she keeps stepping up. She’s very easy to train. It was a great ride.”

Michael Lynch – The Age

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