Jamie Ennis says it would be extra special if emerging middle distance talent Bella Shima can upset champion Fanta Bale in Thursday night’s Group 2 McKenna Memorial (595m) at Sandown Park.
Bella Shima, a superbly bred February ’15 daughter of Barcia Bale and former star stayer Shimaguni, a litter sister to this year’s Group 1 Paws Of Thunder hero Shima Bar, is the fastest qualifier for the $40,000 to-the-winner McKenna Memorial.
However, Jamie Ennis, who trains Bella Shima in partnership with wife Brooke, explained that there’s a tinge of sadness associated with a four race winning streak that has her on the verge of Group glory.
“It’s a pretty sad story,” Ennis said.
“Bella Shima’s owner Robert Stanton passed away several months ago, not long before she started her winning streak. From a trainer’s point of view, all we can do is try our best to win some races with her and give Bob’s wife some enjoyment.”
Bella Shima stepped up to Group company for the first time in last Thursday’s McKenna heats, where her rivals included 2016 McKenna victor Bruce Tycoon and runner-up Dundee Osprey.
Chasing her fourth straight victory, Bella Shima ($6) passed her biggest test to date with flying colours, leading all-the-way from box six in a blistering 34.07, trouncing three-time Group 1 winner Dundee Osprey by 8 ¼ lengths to claim her ninth win from 21 starts.
“She’s always showed good talent,” Ennis said.
“We always knew the engine was there but she’s been very green and she’s had a few little injuries. Fortunately her owners were very patient and let us take our time and do what we wanted to do.
“I had a plan for the McKenna about four weeks before the heats. I wanted to give her two 500s and a 600 before the heats. I didn’t want her first 600 to be in the heats and while the three runs in eight days wasn’t ideal, I knew she wouldn’t need to do much in the week between because she was fit enough.
“She was stepping up from grade five, she was drawn awkwardly, and it was her first time in Group company in such a high quality race but she was able to get the job done. The most pleasing aspect was her run-home time.
“I always thought she might make a stayer. She goes along at one high cruising speed and doesn’t have a real turn of foot. She’s out of a similar mould to Lady Toy and if she’s able to emulate Lady Toy she’ll have a very good career.”
The other two heats saw Robert Britton’s five-time Group 1 winner Fanta Bale enhance her near-faultless middle distance record with a hard-fought 34.45 victory over Zipping Hawk, while Cheese Ya Later, trained by Darren Fisher, claimed an upset 34.51 result over Andrea Dailly’s Shima Song, an older half-sister to Bella Shima.
After once again drawing awkwardly in box four for Thursday’s final, Bella Shima is the $6 second elect in tab.com.au‘s market, with Fanta Bale, which has drawn directly inside Bella Shima in three, the $2 favourite.
“Initially I was a bit disappointed with the draw but I’m happy Fanta Bale is on Bella Shima’s inside,” Ennis offered.
“I’d expect Fanta Bale will be putting a lot of heat on the one (Shima Song) and two (Cheese Ya Later) and drawing directly outside her will hopefully give Bella Shima room to move in the first twenty or thirty metres.
“Bella Shima is definitely a chance but she’s still learning the caper and Fanta Bale is obviously the one beat. I thought Fanta Bale’s heat win was very good. She didn’t have a lot of luck early but she was still able to overcome box eight. She keeps finding a way to win. Basically she’s a star!”
TAB is projecting $50,000 First4 pool on Thursday night’s the McKenna Memorial, which will jump as race 6 at 7.52pm.
This article courtesy of The Greyhound Recorder
Bella Shima sets the fastest McKenna Memorial heat win