By Isaac Murphy
In the space of a month Ella Enchanted has gone from unknown staying entity to TAB Gold Cup contender and a clear second-elect to take Queensland’s feature staying race.
The Brooke Ennis-trained Victorian will take her place in Heat 1 of Thursday’s Group 1 heats at Albion Park, where she can book her place in the final and a potentially mouth-watering clash with superstar, Tornado Tears.
The three-year-old bitch has made a stunning start to her staying career, kicking things off with a six-length drubbing of last Thursday’s Origin Greyhound Distance Champion Poco Dorado in the Group One Sandown Cup Heats.
She followed it up with a gallant second in the final and another subsequent victory at the track to have her primed for Gold Cup Glory.
“She had about a five-month layoff at the end of last year and she went through quite a long season at the beginning of this year, so we missed a lot of racing with her,” Ennis said.
“We always wanted to step her up and thought she would make it as a stayer, but she’s really exceeded expectations.”
“She was exceptionally competitive and even a bit unlucky running second in a stacked Sandown Cup field and off the strength of that run we had to bring her up for The Gold Cup, it was an opportunity we couldn’t let go by.”
Ennis said the former middle-distance star has had an ideal build up to Thursday night’s heats, where she would be given every chance to qualify for next week’s final where she wouldn’t be out of her depth.
“Her build up has been flawless, she’s been to the track before with her previous trainer, but we thought it would be good to travel her up here on the weekend and she’s settled in well and to come out and draw the red gives her every chance for a nice clean run,” Ennis said.
“Looking at the heats there are dogs we know a lot about and others not so much, but I think for any stayer the benchmark is Tornado Tears, his resume speaks for itself, but the form she’s in I’m pretty confident it would stack up against him.”
Ennis said the camp always thought Ella Enchanted would make a star stayer but was surprised at just how quick she’d climbed the ladder of Australia’s most talented stayers.
“She’s always had the ability to be a Group One stayer and once we got her back earlier this year and saw her run homes times we knew she’d make the trip and her win in her Sandown Cup Heat and subsequent run in the Final vindicated that,” Ennis said.
“The trip suits her to a tee, she has the six hundred metre pedigree to go with them early and although we knew she’d run a strong seven hundred to see her running past Group One stayers late was impressive, she can do it at both ends.”
It’s been a big year for team Ennis and the trainer said she couldn’t be more excited about Ella Enchanted’s prospects and was humbled to have a bitch of her class in the kennel.
“We’ve been very fortunate over the years to have some terrific dogs and we’ve had a great start to 2019 winning two Group One’s in Melbourne with Barooga Brett and to now have this bitch right on the doorstep of a Group One it’s something you can’t take for granted,” Ennis said.
“We’ve had to be really patient with her after the long layoff, but we’ve put the hard work in and it’s really rewarding seeing her fulfil the talent we knew she had.”
“She was an exceptional six hundred metre bitch and I say was because this is her future now, at just over three-years old she’s in her prime and is only set to go quicker once she gets a better handle on the caper.”