Monashee Mountain Gets First Aussie Group I Winner

Monashee Mountain garnered his first Australian group I victory with La Montagna's win in the $1 million (Australian funds) Stradbroke Handicap (Aust-I) at Brisbane, Eagle Farm oval June 10.

A roaring finish on the outside advanced the 3-year-old filly's earnings past $1 million as she scored her seventh and career defining win by a half-length from luckless New Zealand distaffer Gee I Jane.

It should ensure La Montagna is the leading earner in 2006 for Mineshaft's Danzig half-brother, who moved from Coolmore's Ireland base to Ashford earlier in the year.

In the south, Monashee Mountain has worked in Queenland since 2001, the year the dual Irish grade III winner also entered stud in Ireland. His southern base is Willowbend Stud, La Montagna from the first southern crop.

A 17-start veteran, the 10-1 winner is prepared locally by Barry Baldwin and is his biggest success in 42 years of training. He prepared Stradbroke runner-up Baggio in 1994, the year he moved from Toowoomba to Eagle Farm.

Her grand stretch run, which carried her and Craig Newitt from 14th of 20 out of the final bend, was a hugely popular win, her breeder/owners familiar faces at race meetings in and around the Queensland capital. They are former Queensland Turf Club chief executive David Laing, his wife Sally, and close friends Greg and Louise Hallam, Enid Jackson, and Ann Cullinane.

New Zealand mare Gee I Jane, a group I winner in her homeland and Australia in 2006, was courageous in defeat. Where Newitt was able to gain cover for the winner from the 18 gate, Scott Seamer could not get in on Gee I Jane from her extreme outside draw. The 5-year-old was left stranded six deep just better than midfield.

In mid-stretch the daughter of Jahafil had the temerity to take the lead from several to enjoy much softer runs. She answered all challenges, but found La Montagna's late charge irresistible. The last mare older than three to win the famous sprint was in 1936.

Another New Zealander, Cog Hill (13-2), was third by 1 1/4 lengths. A soft track saw the seven furlongs take 1:22.92, 2.7 seconds beyond Toledo's race record.

Semipalatinsk, a deceased son of Nodouble, supplied the winner of the Queensland Derby (Aust-I) in Ice Chariot. Semipalatinsk died in January at 28. The Italian listed winner had been in retirement after long service at Queensland's Eureka Stud.

Ice Chariot has won six of 10 starts for career earnings of $677,700. Solidly backed at 5-1, he landed the Derby by 1 1/4 lengths from Peintre Celebre son Cape Breton (30-1), loanhead (12-1) a farther half-length astern in 2:30.67 for the 1 1/2-mile.

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