What a splendid day of racing last Saturday turned out to be, with five exciting Group One races contested. The results in the main were not all that surprising – Mosheen defeated Streama as expected in the Vinery Stud Stakes, More Joyous was victorious in the Queen of the Turf, Manighar defeated Americain in the BMW, Pierro won the Slipper and good old Metal Bender snatched victory in the George Ryder Stakes. Metal Bender’s win was the only unexpected result – who would have thought that a horse could return from a long injury forced break and win a Group One on his second run back. Chris Waller must be a genius!
The excitement continues this coming Saturday at Randwick, with three Group One races on the cards – the T J Smith, Sires Produce Stakes and the Australian Derby being the feature races.
The T J Smith Stakes, a sprint over 1200 metres has been won in the past by the great sprinters of the time – Apache Cat, Takeover Target and of course Black Caviar last year. There’s no Black Caviar in the field this year, nor Hay List who has been sidelined by yet another injury and may not race again. Only six acceptors were received so it’s a small field. Rain Affair seems to have the race at his mercy, but William Reid Stakes winner Foxwedge may give him a run for the money, as might classy filly Hallowell Belle, formerly in Peter Moody’s stable, but now with Gai Waterhouse.
The Sires Produce Stakes is a 1400 metres race for two year olds and has unbeaten colts Pierro and All Too Hard racing against each other for the first time. Pierro of course won the Golden Slipper Stakes last week and is backing up in this. All Too Hard, who has big sister Black Caviar to live up to, is facing his toughest race to date. As he has won all three of his starts with consummate ease, one would like to imagine that he’ll account for Pierro just as easily. Raceway, who finished fifth in the Golden Slipper looks the next best dressed. Yesterday’s buyer of Black Caviar’s half sister, who outlaid 2.6 million dollars for her, will no doubt be watching this race with bated breath.
The feature Group One is the Australian Derby, a race over 2400 metres for three year olds and has 12 colts (and geldings) against lone filly Silent Achiever. She beat the boys in the New Zealand Derby, so could well do a Shamrocker (who won the Derby last year) in the Australian version. Silent Achiever ran a close third in the Rosehill Guineas behind Laser Hawk and Ocean Park, and will have to compete against them again. Also in the picture are Strike The Stars, Polish Knight, Rekindled Alliance, Ethiopia and Victoria Derby winner Sangster who has been less than inspiring so far this autumn.
Also of interest on Saturday is the Group Two Sapphire Stakes (1200 metres) for fillies and mares, mostly due to the return of top filly Atlantic Jewel from an injury forced break. She remains unbeaten, her last race being the Wakeful Stakes back in September last year. An indication of her talent can be demonstrated against the recent exploits of Mosheen. Atlantic Jewel beat Mosheen by 3 lengths in the 2011 Thousand Guineas. It will therefore be very interesting to see how she performs in the Sapphire Stakes. She’s up against smart mares like Mid Summer Music, Parables, Graceful Anna, Celts and Dystopia.
As the races are on Free to Air TV again this week, my Saturday afternoon is sorted nicely.
What a surprising day of racing it was yesterday with several longshots taking out the feature races. Master Of Design took out the T J Smith. You certainly wouldn’t have picked him on form. Rain Affair ran second with Hallowell Belle a close third. Foxwedge ended up at the tail of the field, apparently suffering from a respiratory problem which was not identified pre race.
The match race between All Too Hard and Pierro ended with a victory for the latter, All Too Hard bungling the start and having to play catch up, thus ruining his chance of a win. Pierro has now won five from five.
The Derby was won by Ethiopia who scored his first career win from four starts. Will the Derby curse stymie his chances for further wins in the future? Polish Prince and Laser Hawk took out the minor placings.
The run of the day was Atlantic Jewel emphatically declaring she was back with a stunning win in the Sapphire Stakes and remaining unbeaten from six starts. Who knows how good she really is. We’ll find out in spring I suppose, as she’s only scheduled to have one more start this autumn.