Atishu (NZ) Hits New Heights in Champions Stakes

13 November 2023

Already a Group One winner against her own sex in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) in Sydney earlier this year, top-class Karaka graduate Atishu (NZ) (Savabeel) took her outstanding career to another new level in Saturday’s A$3m Group One Champions Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.

Atishu (NZ) pictured as a yearling

Atishu was bought by syndicators Go Racing for $260,000 from the draft of breeders Waikato Stud in Book 1 of Karaka 2019. She has now had 37 starts for nine wins, 12 placings and A$3.7m in prize-money.

A strong-finishing runner-up in the Group One Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) on the opening day of Melbourne Cup Week last Saturday, Atishu’s connections opted to back her up a week later against a field stacked with Group One talent in the weight-for-age Champions Stakes. That decision was richly rewarded with a career-defining performance.

Ridden by James McDonald for trainer Chris Waller, Atishu launched a stunning finishing burst from the back of the field to charge past Duais (Shamus Award) and win going away by a length and three-quarters.

McDonald went into the Champions Stakes with plenty of confidence, particularly after the Empire Rose Stakes winner Pride Of Jenni (Pride Of Dubai) won the Group One Champions Mile (1600m) 40 minutes earlier.

“Horses don’t run as well as she did last week and not win,” McDonald said. “So to run second behind a horse that franked the form in the previous, when I walked out to Chris for the instructions I said, ‘We’re on a winner, I reckon.’

“The way the circle track has been playing, it is hard to make up ground. But when it happens like that, with the pace generated early, we were able to bide our time and produce the goods.

“Her progress has been phenomenal. She’s beautifully bred by Savabeel, stays well, stays the 10 furlongs beautifully and she’s as tough as boots.”

Waller was similarly delighted with Saturday’s big win.

“Winning any race this week is special,” he said. “It’s not a race we have been overly strong in previously, and coming into today I didn’t know what to expect.

“I think she should have won a Group One on the first day. To see Pride Of Jenni come out and blow them away in the race before, I guess that gave us a little bit of confidence.

“Atishu backed up similarly last year. She won the Matriarch (Group Two, 2000m) on this day last year and has gone to a whole new step today.”

Vendor Waikato Stud Ltd
Purchaser Go Racing (Auckland)
Breeding Savabeel – Posy
Sale Lot 316, Karaka 2019 Book 1, $260,000
Bred by Waikato Stud Ltd