CROFT'S "FLOWER" NO SURPRISE AT $31

SUNDAY: September 6, 2020: ROUGHIE Testa’s Flower might have shocked a lot of punters with her $31 breakthrough victory on home turf at Hawkesbury yesterday – but not her trainer Terry Croft.

“I couldn’t believe her price; I thought she was a $7 or $8 chance,” Croft said this morning.

“Her last run when she hit the line well and finished third over 900m at Newcastle was good.”

Croft prepares Testa’s Flower for former publican and now Rylstone stud owner Mal Russell, who paid $40,000 for her at the 2018 Inglis Classic yearling sale.

A four-year-old daughter of six-times Group 1 winner Testa Rossa (13 wins from 28 starts), she is the second foal of the War Pass mare War Flower, whose sole win from a brief career was in a 900m Maiden at Scone in October, 2013.

Croft took over Testa’s Flower’s preparation after she had been unplaced at her first four starts, and the mare’s luck didn’t change when he took her to Wellington in May for a 900m Maiden.

“She finished eighth, but got flattened and should have won,” he said.

“At her next run she finished a close second (at $71) at Hawkesbury in a 1000m Maiden Plate.

“We’ve had to work her out, and she races best when ridden quietly and allowed to finish off, as she did at Newcastle at her previous start (when $31 to $17).”

Croft has had plenty of success with young jockeys, and booked Wyong apprentice Stacey Metcalfe to ride his mare yesterday.

“Testa’s Flower is not very big; she is probably just over 15 hands and I was looking for a 3kg claim to offset her 57kg,” he explained.

“Stacey had never ridden for me before, but I have watched her a bit and knew she would be well schooled being apprenticed to Allan Denham.

“She is strong and suited Testa’s Flower yesterday as her claim no doubt made the difference.”

Metcalfe gave Testa’s Flower time to settle in second last place in the small field of seven in the Exact Security 4YO & Upwards Maiden Plate (1000m), then took her wide on the track on straightening.

She finished with purpose to overhaul Shadow Colour ($2.25) and Young Heart ($16), with $2.05 favorite Heart Breaker a fading fifth.

Croft clinched his second winner of the season – he scored with $11 chance Bartandthequeen, ridden by another apprentice Mikayla Weir, at the Forbes Cup meeting on August 3 – and has his stable stalwart No Escape back in work for another campaign.

The eight-year-old gelding (of which Testa’s Flower owner also figures in the ownership) resumed at Mudgee last Sunday in the Gooree Cup (1400m) when ninth to Morpheus.

“He had a decent weight (59.5kg) and was a bit underdone,” Croft said.

“I will most likely run him next at Hawkesbury in a Conditional Open Handicap (1300m) on September 24.”

No Escape has won eight (along with 10 placings) of his 43 starts, including two city victories (both at Rosehill Gardens in June last year and January this year).

On both occasions, he provided a great result for his connections, scoring at $13 and $31 respectively.

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