The Roy Magner-trained three-year-old filly Anna Pavlova has become the latest South African-bred horse to be bought by renowned American bloodstock agent, owner and breeder, Barry Irwin.
She will be seen in the familiar red and green colours of Team Valor International on Saturday at Turffontein in the Gr2 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas.
The original owners, Courtney and Megan Soal, have retained a share in the Summerhill-bred daughter of St Petersburg. Magner remains the trainer, at least for the time being, as there are also overseas aspirations for her.
Anna Pavlova was originally brought for just R45,000 at the Summerhill Farm Sale, despite a classy pedigree. St Petersburg is by Nureyev, and Anna Pavlova’s British-bred dam Shatrang is by Royal Applause out of a full-sister to the successful KZN-based sire Kahal. St Petersburg is the sire of Australian Gr1 winner, Solzhenitsyn.
Irwin said about the well-named filly, “My main reason for the purchase is that filly’s incredible turn of foot. She also has a very powerful body.”
Irwin continued, “The filly was bought to race a few more times in South Africa, with the Gauteng Fillies Guineas first and probably the Gr1 Empress Club on April 15 next. The Gr1 SA Fillies Classic is possible, but I think she is a miler and will have to show us she wants to run further. We plan to send her to Europe by way of Mauritius. We will decide in the fall if we want to give her to Mike de Kock to go to Dubai, or leave her in France to be trained by Andre Fabre.”
Anna Pavlova burst into the classic picture when winning the Gr3 Three Troikas Stakes over 1450m at Turffontein Inside track under JP van der Merwe in her last start on February 11. The slow pace did not suit her that day and she also had to be eased at one stage in the straight.
However, she then displayed an effortless turn of foot and beat the Gr1-placed Visuality by a head, despite giving her 2kg.
Magner said yesterday (Monday) that she had come out of the Three Troikas fine and had been “doing well” at home. He believed she would get the mile as long as she was “ridden cold”, which is her normal strategy and from her wide draw she would have little other option anyway.
Magner was also confident they would go “a proper gallop” on Saturday owing to the prestige of the event which constitutes the joint first leg of the SA Triple Tiara.
In Anna Pavlova’s only meeting with Saturday’s likely favourite, Ektifaa, last October, she received 3,5kg and was beaten two lengths over 1450m. She has improved since then, but reversing the form is going to be a tough ask. Ektifaa does have a wide draw at least.
The Three Troikas was Anna Pavlova’s third win in succession and her fourth overall in ten career starts. She started at healthy odds of 9/1 and this was probably due to her having taken five starts to win her maiden.
However, Magner knew from day one she would go places. “She was very green in her early starts and used to duck around a lot, otherwise would have won her maiden earlier. It is really her turn of foot near the finish which makes her special,” he said.
She won on the first occasion she was stepped up beyond 1200m. Her wins have all been between 1400m and 1450m and she is yet to attempt further.
JP van der Merwe retains the ride on Saturday.
By David Thiselton