Victorian harness racing trainer-driver Laura Crossland and owner Verna El-Khishin are forming a handy association – thanks, in large measure, to the deeds of broodmare Chiquita Bromac (Mcardle).
Chiquita Bromac’s second foal, five-year-old mare Cheyella (Heston Blue Chip) surpassed $100,000 in career earnings at Melton on Saturday night (Mar 11) when she worked hard early to score a narrow but tough victory over the in-form Outlaw Man.
“I actually didn’t realise it, but that win was only her 41st start,” Crossland, who is based near Shepparton, said.
“She’s done a great job and she’s a lovely mare. You couldn’t fault her around the stables or at the races. I had her older sister, Celerina (Pet Rock) and she was a handy horse as well. I think Cheyella is still improving though,” she said.
Celerina retired in 2021 with a career record of five wins and 21 places from just 49 starts, including a heat and final of the 3YO Kevin and Kay Seymour Evolution series at Menangle.
Also, in the Crossland stable is the very promising younger half-sister of Cheyella and Celerina, three year old Chirripo (Always Be Miki), who ran a creditable fifth (beaten 13 metres) in the NSW Oaks behind Windy Hill Tara last month.
The youngster has had just 16 starts for three wins and seven places and has failed to weigh in only twice.
“Verna bred all of them. She just loves the sport and it’s been a terrific association for all of us. We’re working about 15 horses at the moment, but I’ve only got three horses racing and they’re all Verna’s!” Crossland said.
“About five or six years ago, out of the blue, I got a phone call from Verna. She left a voicemail saying she wanted to have a female trainer and to give her a call. Obviously I did and we’ve had some really fun times and nice wins. I think Cheyella’s probably the best of them so far,” she said.
Cheyella will be one of the key chances in tomorrow night’s Allied Express Ian Daff Memorial for mares at Melton.
“Providing she goes well at Melton we will try to target some of the better mares’ races with her, hopefully the Riverina Championship heats (4 and 5yo mares) which start on March 31,” Crossland said.
“I think she’s up to it. When she went through the sires, she just couldn’t get a draw, but I really think it made her, chasing horses like Ladies in Red and Joanna through that series.”
After finishing eighth in the VicBred 3yo Fillies Final in December 2021, Cheyella went on to win five of her next eight starts, including three Metropolitan class events.
Crossland said Cheyella appeared to be getting stronger as she matured.
“She loves her hard work but she’s a big solid thing and you can’t back off on her at all,” she said.
“She worked as well as she ever has this week and she loves a bit of distance, so I think the Wagga series will suit.”
by Terry Gange, for Harnesslink
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