Buildup stars many local winners
It’s not easy writing this column before the main event, especially knowing that my words will be read after the Melbourne Cup has been run and won by the next horse to etch its name into Australian racing folklore.
Questions abound as to who might be the one – favourite So You Think, the Kiwi-bred whose run of spring form has him being hailed as the new champion, or the other trained by Cups King Bart Cummings, Matamata-bred Precedence; one of the European raiders that have made Australia’s holy grail their sought after global target; last year’s winner Shocking; Caulfield Cup winner Descarado; maybe one of the Kiwi runners Harris Tweed, Monaco Consul or rank outsider Red Ruler.
Be that as it may, from a New Zealand perspective there was still much to take out of the dress rehearsal to Melbourne Cup day at a rain-soaked Flemington on Saturday.
Cox Plate winner So You Think took his winning sequence to five with another romp in the Mackinnon Stakes.
Cambridge-trained Lion Tamer was an even easier winner of the A$ 1.5 million Victoria Derby, Maluckyday emerged from the Lexus Stakes as the latest staying star by super sire Zabeel, and Mike Moroney saddled up former Matamata filly Brazilian Princess to win the Wakeful Stakes and secure favouritism for Thursday’s Victoria Oaks.
In common with many Ballymore Stables members, Brazilian Princess underwent her early education and development from Matamata and then was transferred to Moroney’s Flemington stable after late season trials provided some assessment of her potential.
She lived up to that rating by winning her first two starts begin- ning with a 1200-metre maiden at provincial Ballarat in early September and a repeat at Sandown when tried for the first time in town.
That form was good enough to justify taking on black-type company in October, resulting in a close second in the Gr 2 Edward Manifold Stakes, followed by a third in the Gr 1 One Thousand Guineas at Caulfield.
Thus she was having just her fifth start going into Saturday’s Gr 2 Wakeful Stakes, her first test at a middle-distance but despite being forced wide from a difficult draw she proved too classy and drew out to win by more than a length.
As a trial for the VRC Oaks five days later, Moroney could not have wished for more and Brazilian Princess will go to the start as favourite for Thursday’s A$1 million classic.
Success in the VRC Oaks will seal the powerfully built bay’s status as yet another bargain sales ring purchase by Paul Moroney.
At $26,000 at the Select session of the 2009 National Yearling Sale at Karaka, she has already proven a bargain with stake-earnings in excess of $ 300,000 plus even greater residual value.
Paul first spotted the filly during the early rounds of his pre-sale inspections and kept tabs on her thereafter before being able to secure her in a price bracket that has previously achieved some outstanding results.
Her sire Captain Rio
best known as a sire of sprinter-milers, amongst the former high class local filly Il Quello Veloce but Brazilian Pulses’s pedigree is balanced on the bottom half as a member of one of renowned breeder HH Agha Khan’s best staying families.
Third dam Shapaara is a halfsister to none other than the great galloper Shergar, who is perhaps best remembered as the young stallion who in the early 1980s was spirited away in the dead of night from Ballymany Stud in central Ireland and never seen again, reputedly the victim of an IRA-sponsored heist that went horribly wrong.
Shergar’s racetrack ability was where he made his true mark, however, elevating him to European Horse of the Year honours in 1981.
While on my OE working in Ireland I had the pleasure of witnessing Shergar at his peak, cantering home under Lester Piggott at the head of the Irish Derby field, and later that northern summer when he beat all-comers in the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
Nearly three decades later he still belongs on my shortlist of best racehorses ever seen. While some levels below that champion galloper and others that made the headlines at Flemington on the weekend, there were some performances worth noting at last Friday’s Racing Matamata meeting.
Local trainers Andrew Scott, Wayne and Vanessa Hillis and Karapiro-based Steven Ramsay and Julia Ritchie all scored doubles, while Lance Noble and Michael Coleman combined to win one.
That was with Astrogal, who shared with the Scott-trained first starter Fireside the honour of being most impressive maiden graduate on the day.
Astrogal is an O’Reilly filly raced by Auckland couple Alan and Colleen Jackson, whose heavy investment in racing has extended through their Broadway Racing and Breeding Partnership to the underwrite of the maiden threeyear-old series of races whose stakes have been boosted from $5000 to $8000.
Aucklanders also feature in the ownership of Fireside, including the Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias and her husband Hugh Fletcher, who commented afterwards that it was a great relief to break an eight-year drought since being on track to see one of his horses win – ‘‘ and that’s not for want of horses either,’’ he added.
There were also some happy owners involved in Scott’s second and even more impressive winner, Sworn To Secrecy, when she took her record to two wins from four starts with a smart performance in good time.
She is raced by a team Wealleans Syndicate, whose blue jacket with the large red W will next be seen in the Gr 1 New Zealand One Thousand Guineas at Riccarton on Saturday week.
Scott has confirmed a start in the fillies’ classic, for which Sworn To Secrecy is now on the third line of betting at $ 8, and she is booked on a charter flight in the middle of next week.
Victorious: Team Wealleans principals Gavin and Ken Wealleans flank successful rider Michael Coleman following the impressive win by their filly Sworn To Secrecy at Matamata last Friday.