Race fit Lady Laguna lands maiden G1 in Canterbury Stakes

In-form mare Lady Laguna has turned giant killer, upsetting Everest winner Think About It and top mare Espiona to land her first major in the Canterbury Stakes.

Her jubilant trainer Annabel Neasham said while she wasn’t expecting the win, she also wasn’t entirely surprised given the set-up of Saturday’s Group 1 race.

“I can believe it because she is so tough,” Neasham said.

“She’s racing out of her skin at the moment and we’ve been so happy with her at home, so I was quietly confident, particularly as some of the others, the favourite, was first-up.

“We were a little bit further back than I wanted to be but beautiful ride by Tyler (Schiller) and I’m so over the moon she is a Group One winner.”

Schiller allowed Lady Laguna to find her feet early and was happy to continue to bide his time near the back as Sam Clipperton aboard Think About It made a mid-race move to circle the field and camp off the leaders.

As Think About It ($2.35 fav) attempted to raise another effort in the straight, Schiller brought a race-fit Lady Laguna ($11) with a sweeping run down the outside to score by 1-1/4 lengths over the betting app favourite, who nosed Espiona ($2.45) out of second.

Describing Lady Laguna as an “iron woman”, Neasham said she would give thought to backing her up in next weekend’s Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m).

The fillies and mares’ feature had been back of mind for Neasham going into the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) but she wanted to see how Lady Laguna came through the run before making a decision.

“I didn’t gallop her on Tuesday because in the back of my mind I had the Coolmore for next week as well, so I thought, we’ll just keep her fresh because she has been up a long time,” she said.

“We kept Tyler booked for that race in case we did want to do that, but we will get her home and see.”

Schiller celebrated his first Group 1 win aboard Mariamia in last year’s The Galaxy but the young hoop said it felt just as good the second time around.

“It feels as good as the first time,” Schiller said.

“I actually thought she was going to get rounded up late, but she just kept kicking and she was strong for the 1300.”

Clipperton said he struggled to find cover on Think About It from a wide gate and when he did, the speed came out of the race.

“He was resenting having to go so slow. I just let him stride, I tried to keep him in a rhythm rather than to continue to fight him the whole way,” Clipperton said.

“He’s run super.”

James Mcdonald said the lack of pace also played against Espiona but he felt she did a good job to get as close as she did.

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