Bold EllinoreBold EllinoreThe Gr1 Empress Club Stakestopped Saturday’s Turffontein card and it was Stratos who continued her dominant season by edging out favourite Rat Burana (Brz) and Summerhill-bred Bold Ellinore (Kahal) with She’s On Fire  staying on fourth.

Soft Landingwent out to make the running and carved out a five-length lead with Rat Burana settling in second ahead of Stratos and Moneycan’tbuymelove. Bold Ellinore (Kahal) was in touch ahead of Royal Fantasy and Mochachino. Run Angel Run raced in midfield with Carry On Katie while Silver Empre, She’s On Fire and Surabi brought up the rear.

Soft Landing had a big lead turning for home, but the chasing pack made steady inroads and halfway down the straight she was in trouble as Rat Burana and stablemate Bold Ellinore moved up and looked set to fight out the finish. Stratos however, was very much in touch with them, and just as Rat Burana saw off the challenge of Bold Ellinore, she was overwhelmed by Stratos who nailed her on the line.

Stratos is in the form of her life at age five and is now unbeaten in three starts this season, having earlier won the Yellowwood Handicap and Ipi Tombe Challenge. She has been thoroughly reliable throughout her career and she has not ducked any tough assignments, consistently taking on the very best of her sex. Given the enthusiasm she is showing, she looks far from finished for the season.

Rat Burana, by contrast, has been beaten in all three of her starts this season, but she has not been disgraced in any of them. She did everything but win and her turn is surely around the corner.

Bold Ellinore (Kahal) came right back to her best and was only just run out of it late. She thrives in Durban during the winter and her connections have every reason to look forward to her campaign down there in a few months.

She’s On Fire deserves a special mention for repeating last year’s effort in this race and finishing fourth. This lightly-raced 5-year-old has clearly had her share of problems, as shown by the amount of time she has spent off the track but she has yet to run a bad race and this effort was a highly creditable one.

Extract from SA