A homebred daughter of Nathaniel from David and Patricia Thompson’s Cheveley Park Stud, Pilaster impressed with the manner she won fillies’ novice contests at Chelmsford and Kempton earlier in the season, stretching clear in a good time on her most recent outing, and she duly built on that promise returned to turf and upped in trip here, mastering the Andrew Balding-trained Maid Up by a short head following a sustained duel inside the final furlong.
While the outcome was not finalised until the stewards held an inquiry into possible interference, the result was never seriously in jeopardy and Pilaster was confirmed as the winner of a first prize totalling a whisker over £170,000 as she continued the rapid ascent through her three-year-old season.
This was a superb ride by the ice cool and tactically aware David Egan, whose confidence and race-reading abilities belie his relative inexperience in the saddle, sitting beautifully positioned in midfield as the Aidan O’Brien-trained Flattering set comparatively strong early fractions.
Asked to close as the field turned for home, Pilaster responded to every urging from her young pilot, kicking into top gear passing through the three-furlong marker before getting within a neck of Maid Up inside the last. For most of the final furlong the outcome looked in the balance as two strong-staying, strong-willed fillies fought out a terrific finish, but it was Pilaster who stuck her neck in front on the line to clock an eye-catching overall time of a just under a second outside of the Racing Post standard.
While the form, at first glance, could be questioned for the level, a 95-rated filly beating an 86-rated rival in a Group 2, both Pilaster and the runner-up are rapidly-improving types who have clearly benefitted from this extreme test of stamina. Indeed, Pilaster hails from the second crop of Newsells Park Stud stallion Nathaniel, whose talents in the breeding shed were handsomely promoted by the exploits of European Champion Enable last season, and she is out of the Hernando mare Portal, making her a half-sister to G1 St Leger third Windshear, so this is a family for whom stamina is no object.
Roger said: “Pilaster is a lovely, progressive filly who has improved a chunk with each start and this was an impressive performance on only her fourth career start and her second on turf. David gave her a beautiful, composed ride and stamina is clearly her forte. I don’t think she was in love with the ground and I think she will be a better filly with more give underfoot. We still don’t know how good she is and I think she will stay as far as you would like her to. Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Thompson and well done to all of the team back at home.”