The Courier-Mail

Benchmark set for three-year-olds

- NATHAN EXELBY

GOLDEN Rose hotpots Exosphere and Press Statement are already rating superior to most winners of the $1 million feature and shape as clear benchmarks for this season’s three-year-old crop.

That’s the opinion of profession­al punter and ratings analyst Daniel O’Sullivan, who assessed this year’s Run to the Rose as one of the highest rating pre-Christmas three-yearold races of recent years.

“It’s one thing to be in the top few three-year-olds at this stage of the season, but it’s an entirely different and significan­t thing to do that with a rating that is already on Group 1 standard,” O’Sullivan said.

“That’s what Exosphere has done and Press Statement is knocking on the door, with plenty of scope to improve.”

On O’Sullivan’s weight-forage performanc­e ratings, Exosphere returned a 105.5 in the Run to the Rose. Exosphere is the warm favourite for the Golden Rose at Rosehill on Saturday.

Putting that into perspectiv­e, it’s a rating that would have won six of the past seven Golden Roses, the exception being Manawanui, who beat high-class trio Smart Missile, Helmet and Foxwedge.

“He still has to prove he can do it on firmer ground, but he’s run a three-year-old Group 1 quality number first up from a spell. He’s a big horse who was GOLDEN ROSE, RUN SATURDAY strong late, so he probably has upside,” O’Sullivan said.

Similarly, Press Statement’s 103.4 first-up rating is superior to the number recorded by the past three Rose winners, Hallowed Crown (103), Zoustar (102.5) and Epaulette (102.5).

“Chris Waller’s style is to have them underdone first up, so it’s very likely he will improve his ratings,” O’Sullivan said.

“Waller has a strong record of improving the ratings of his two-year-olds as they move into their three-year-old season. Press Statement has already done that going from 102.4 in Brisbane to 103.4 first up this time around.

“Outside of Vancouver, who has a question mark over him on his first-up rating and recent trial, the other threeyear-olds aren’t yet in the same class of what Exosphere and Press Statement demonstrat­ed in the Run to the Rose.”

Just as it was in the Manawanui year, the Golden Rose is shaping as a small field.

Other contenders include Furious winner Speak Fondly, dual Melbourne stakes winner Gold Symphony, Rageese, Shards, Sebring Sun, Let’s Make It Rain, Holler and possibly Zoutenant.

The Chris Waller pair Japonisme and Wudang Mountain remain unlikely.

Gai Waterhouse has moved to secure Brett Prebble for the Speak Fondly ride. Prebble had a fall on Saturday and did not ride in Hong Kong yesterday, but expects to ride on Saturday.

WITH NATHAN EXELBY

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