The success of Australian-bred runners in South Africa continues unabated and exciting More Than Ready filly, Ektifaa, has added to the Group tally by taking out the Group Three Tony Ruffel Stakes at Turffontein on Saturday night.
Just two weeks ago, Manhattan Rain’s Whisky Baron won the Group One Sun Met in a blaze of publicity and Australian-breds have now captured more than 70 stakes races in South Africa over the past two racing seasons. Indeed, one in seven of South Africa’s Group One races have fallen to Australian-breds despite fielding just 4% of the country’s racing population.
Ektifaa certainly went a long way to cementing her reputation as one of South Africa’s best fillies after the Tony Ruffel success.
The only filly in the 1450m race, Ektifaa kicked clear on turning for home and went on to record an impressive victory for owner Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
With just seven runs under her girth strap, Ektifaa has now won four on end and her time in the Tony Ruffel was more than a second quicker than that recorded by the winner of the Group Three Troikas Stakes over the same journey.
The win was impressive to say the least given that this was Ektifaa’s first outing since winning the Group Two Choice Carriers Championship at Kenilworth in late October.
For leading trainer Mike de Kock, it was the second Tony Ruffel in succession after taking out the race with another Australian-bred in Suyoof in 2016.
(Suyoof was subsequently sent to Dubai and, by coincidence, had her first start at Meydan on Saturday night, finishing a strong second).
The timing of Ektifaa’s latest victory hasn’t been lost on Segenhoe Stud’s Peter O’Brien, who sold the filly at the 2015 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale for $600,000 and will offer a three quarter brother (by Sebring) at Easter this year.
“Ektifaa was bred by (Winx’s breeder) John Camilleri and, was an absolutely stunning type,” O’Brien enthused. “In fact, she was probably as good a More Than Ready as I’ve ever seen.
“The mare (Stellar Vinia) clearly produces real athletes because the Sebring colt is close to being our best yearling for Easter.
“Full marks to Shadwell Stud too. Not only did they buy Ektifaa from us, but another of our sales graduates in Madeenaty (a $775,000 filly from the 2016 Gold Coast Magic Millions) is shaping up to be a top 2YO for Shadwell as well.”
Ektifaa’s dam, Stellar Vinia, is a winning daughter of Redoute’s Choice and a three quarter sister to Group winning juvenile, Fireworks, along with being a half sister to Champion Sprinter, Calvin, and Sydney Group Two winner, Kosi Bay.