We always like to hear from enthusiastic racegoers, so when we received an article written by Will Bowler about the achievements of La Estrella at Southwell Racecourse, we thought we would share it with you. If you've got something to say and think it would be relevant for our blog, don't hesitate to email it over to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, title the email blog and we'll do our best to post it online. Enjoy the below, thanks again to Will or sending us this great article.
On 6th November 2012, La Estrella, a 9 year old gelding trained by Don Cantillon in Newmarket, broke the British record for most consecutive wins at one course, and that track is the Fibresand at Southwell.
La Estrella was trained in his early days by Lincolnshire trainer James Given, and won three races, shedding his maiden tag at the fifth attempt at Wolverhampton, before his first handicap win on his 10th start, winning by 5 lengths at Pontefract under Frankel’s jockey Tom Queally. He got raised 8lbs for that win, and took a while to get back to a mark of 79 again, but when he did, in his final start for James Given, he won again on the all weather at Wolverhampton. 3 weeks later, he had his first start for Don Cantillon in the 2007 November Handicap at Doncaster, finishing seventh of 21 at odds of 50/1. He then tried his hooves at hurdling, and won his second hurdle start at Fakenham by 10 lengths on 14th January 2008, at odds of 8/1. After 4 disappointing runs on the Flat, over hurdles and his first chase run, he made his first trip to Southwell for a beginners chase on 26th September 2008. It was by no means the start of something special, as La Estrella unseated Dominic Elsworth at the second last when holding every chance.
After another poor chase run and a thumping in a selling hurdle at Stratford, Trainer Don Cantillon brought La Estrella back for a run on the Fibresand in a mile and a half claiming stakes, and the rest as they say is history. He had a much higher official rating than the others, but with no previous run on the surface, the proven Veloso was sent off favourite, with La Estrella a 5/2 chance, the second biggest price he would win at at the track. He led with a furlong to go and won by 2 and a half lengths. Before the end of 2008, he had won a claimer at Wolverhampton by 4 lengths, and a second Southwell victory by 6 lengths.
On his first runs as a six year old, he won twice in three days on 6th and 8th January, one at Southwell at odds of 1/3 by six lengths, before a trip to Essex and the now closed Great Leighs for a gritty half length victory. One start in February followed, which was a defeat at Kempton, before a 4th place finish at Wolverhampton in March.
He was then injured until his next start, at his happy hunting ground at Southwell on 1st February 2011, and win number 4 at the course beckoned, quickly followed a fortnight later, with two further course wins in a week, one over a mile and a half, the other over a mile and three quarters (1mile six furlongs), to take the unbeaten tally to 6.
Into March 2011, and another two course victories, to take him up to 8-8 at the course. In the second of those, he won his only handicap at Southwell, winning at his biggest odds at the track too, 4/1. His next start was back in claiming company, and he routed a small field by 5 lengths, en route to Royal Ascot.
He ran a belter in the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting, finishing 5th of 19 over two and a half miles. He continued to race on turf that summer without success, going to Ireland for a race at The Curragh, Goodwood on the Sussex Downs and the Cesarewitch at Newmarket in October, a long distance handicap run across two counties, starting in Cambridgeshire and ending in Suffolk.
Back he came again to the All Weather for his customary winter campaign. He started on 3rd November with Southwell win number ten, a hard fought win over Kishanda, who was receiving 20lbs off La Estrella. To round off 2011, after a Kempton defeat, he then scored well in a Wolverhampton handicap carrying 10 stone.
2012 began as 2011 ended, with a 16th All weather win in a Claimer at Wolverhampton, before a relative canter to beat two rivals at very skinny odds of 1/6 back on the Fibresand in February to make it 11 from 11.
A three month gap followed and back he came to try and equal the British record of 12 consecutive wins at the same course, again it was a claimer on the 23rd of May, where he had to face Enroller, a former Listed winner and decent hurdler, and Jack Dawkins, who had some good Fibresand form. Again, it wasn’t easy, a good battle with Jack Dawkins, but he won by a length and a half and equalled the record.
He made us wait, and on 6th November this year, on a murky day in Nottinghamshire, he broke the record, in determined style ahead of Pendragon under Adam Kirby.
He is not a superstar in terms of the level he runs in, but he is a credit to his trainer, who has placed him excellently throughout his career and dealt with the fragility of his legs really well over the years. Dane O’Neill, who has piloted him to 11 of the 13 Southwell victories must take credit too, plus Adam Kirby and Jamie Spencer who also had the honour of riding him on the Fibresand.
He has been a fantastic advert for Southwell and he shows that as Fibresand has such a low record in terms of horse injuries, horses such as La Estrella, Efistorm and Kingaroo, all course specialists, can come back time after time with no problems.