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UNRACED filly Everlong could easily have made her debut in a $45,000 900m 2YO Midway Maiden Handicap at Thursday’s Provincial-Midway Championship Wildcard meeting at Newcastle.

Instead, Wyong trainer Kristen Buchanan took a punt and settled on yesterday’s $200,000 Wellington Boot (1100m) at the Showcase fixture for her debut – and it paid off handsomely.

Ridden by Jeff Penza and starting at $10, Everlong collected the $109,000 first prize, providing her owners Trilogy Racing with a sizeable return on the $240,000 they paid for her as Lot 317 at last year’s Magic Millions yearling sale on the Gold Coast.

“I was part of the Trilogy selection team at the sale, and loved this filly,” Buchanan said today.

“She was my top pick, and it was a great thrill to get her to train. She has been a real project of mine.

“We were thinking about kicking off Everlong’s career at Newcastle, but my partner Peter suggested having a crack at the Boot as she was going well.

“It was a bit of a gamble for her first start as Wellington is a tricky track, but it all worked out well even though she wasn’t completely comfortable getting around the home turn.”

Everlong’s favourable draw (she started from barrier two in a field of 13) proved invaluable as Penza was able to give her a cosy run on the fence before extricating her out into the centre of the track on straightening to make her run.

Everlong finished resolutely to overhaul tearaway leader Sky Artist and then hold off last December’s Wyong Magic Millions 2YO Classic runner-up Quasimoto ($9.50), with fellow Wyong trainer Damien Lane’s Sparkingly ($14) third, having won the Boot Prelude (1100m) at Coonamble earlier in the month.

A daughter of 2016 Golden Slipper Stakes winner Capitalist (who won four of his seven starts before being retired to begin stud duties), Everlong is the second foal of the six-times winner and Group 2 placegetter Nieta, whose trainer John Thompson also prepares her first foal Nipotino (by Snitzel), a winner at both Canterbury and Kembla Grange last year.

Everlong was only Buchanan’s second starter at Wellington. Her first was $12 chance Brazen, who was unplaced in the Wellington Cup (1700m) at the Boot meeting three years ago.

Buchanan sent the filly to Wellington last Friday to give her every opportunity to settle in, and had the trainer of Boot third placegetter Sparkingly to thank for assisting in that regard.

“Damien was taking a team out there on Friday, and very kindly took Everlong as well,” she said.

“I normally go to all the meetings, but had a number of owners stay over after our own meeting at Wyong on Saturday, and missed being on track to see her win, so Peter went in my place.

“Everlong has pulled up better than my foreman and strapper,” she added.

Buchanan trialled Everlong twice in town early in her two-year-old season, and she was placed on both occasions at Rosehill Gardens and Warwick Farm last October.

“She wasn’t ready to race, so we spelled her and brought her back for the autumn,” she said.

Everlong was placed in a home track 845m trial on February 24, and also finished second in another 900m trial at Rosehill 13 days before tackling the Boot.

The filly’s victory continued another successful racing year for Buchanan, being her 22nd winner since August, following on from 125 winners in the previous four seasons.

Wellington’s famous two-year-old race has now been won by Wyong trainers at its last two runnings. Damien Lane won the race in 2021 with Sonnet Star, and unfortunately the race had to be abandoned last year because of wet weather for the first time in its 40-odd year history.

Coincidentally, yesterday’s Boot winner has links to the now retired Wyong 15-year-old gelding Sincero, who won both the 2017 Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm and Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick.

Everlong’s granddam Brookton Flash (by Spartacus) is a daughter of Yours As Always, and Sincero was the latter’s last foal before she died in 2011.

*Words John Curtis*

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