On this corresponding week last year we kicked off a little series known as ‘Spring Speculators.’ A three-part piece to help stoke the fire in hearts of the battle weary winter warriors of the punt. History will show we got lucky. Whilst others will argue the point that luck is just a term for when hard work meets opportunity. Either way you look at it, we’ve taken some of the heavy lifting out of it again for you this year as we roll the dice once more in the highly anticipated Spring Speckies 2020 edition.
Last year we kicked it off with the 2yo’s which I said at the time looked to be in for an ‘exciting 3yo season’. Wow! What an understatement it was.
The Golden Slipper alone threw up a multiple open company G1 winner, as well as The Everest winner, from two unplaced runners in Loving Gaby and Yes Yes Yes respectively. Whilst the races first emergency Bivouac went on to not only beat his own age in claiming the Golden Rose but also defeated the older horses in the G1 Newmarket.
There’s no doubt the bar has been set high for the 2019/20 freshman crop entering their 2020/21 3yo season and whether they are up to it mixing it with older company only time will tell. My gut tells me we’ll be lucky to get another crop as the one we just saw, but I still think there’s a few stars amongst them none the less.
Farnan: The obvious star of the show here. The 2020 Slipper winner with just the one blot on his copy book, a down the track run on the concrete that the Gold Coast Turf Club served up in their wisdom for their 2yo feature day. He left nothing to chance from a sticky draw in The Slipper and was simply dominant. Suggest only commercial reasons prohibited him from replicating the same performance in The Sires which in my mind augers well for a Golden Rose. He’s the deserved favourite in that race and whilst a changing of the guard period in our sprinting ranks certainly opens the door for an emerging open company short course star, I think he’s skinny enough in the Everest but if you like him that much, why not chance the double which is appealing enough odds.
Overlord: If I had to take one throw at the stumps for the 3yo I think most likely to take it up to the older horses out of this bunch, it’s this bloke. Lobbed on the scene late, which I have no doubt was for the all the right reasons given he is in the masterful hands of Chris Waller. He’s the Castelvecchio of this crop for mine. Imagine they might tread a similar path here with races like the Golden Rose and Spring Champion bright on his radar and I have a feeling he may be the fly in the ointment 3yo we are talking about come Cox Plate time. Did I mention he’s still a maiden? Write your own ticket at this point…
Mamaragan: The old racing adage ‘never runs a bad race’ couldn’t be more than true for this veteran of just three starts. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the riding of his veteran hoop Nash Rawiller who no doubt is as equally perplexed as both I, his trainer and connections are as to how he got beat in The Sires. Wasn’t suited by finding the fence in The Slipper given his lack of race experience with nothing to tow him into the contest when he was travelling on the corner. In a classic case of ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’ in The Sires, things certainly went awry when Nash eased early and this time found half a dozen too many bums to follow into it and ended up deepest the turn… from barrier 2! You know what you are going to get with this fellow and he should certainly have a G1 win to his name to go with G1 placing a G2 Skyline win. Represents the best each way value in the Golden Rose for mine.
King’s Legacy: Spent a good part of the previous horse’s run down explaining why this bloke was probably fortunate to win The Sires, that said he showed a brilliant turn of foot to do so. And he more than stamped his claims as a Group 1 winner a fortnight later with a comprehensive win in The Champagne. Tend to think they might just be a bit sharp for him over 1400m in the early Spring but I’d like to be on him later in the season at a mile and beyond and is another who could challenge the older horses over a middle distance trip with no weight on his back.
Peltzer: If you aren’t aware of the name Peltzer then you clearly haven’t been having a bet the last three months in Sydney. Hardly a week has gone by between late Autumn and early Winter that the Saturday 2yo race hasn’t been won by a horse with form in and, or around this son of dual Cox Plate winner So You Think. With that in mind, I certainly think he’s going to make a lot sharper 3yo than his old man. So unlike him, who was a Cox Plate winner at three, the Golden Rose and perhaps a tilt at some open company sprint races will be more this blokes go.
Prague: His run in The Slipper was a beauty, never better than three deep the trip. And looked home in The Sires when forced to work across outside the leader early before being nailed by a low flying King’s Legacy late. By Redoutes out of a Pins mare, you can only imagine he’ll be an even better horse at three. He could be an early market mover once they resume.
Away Game: To quote the great Ric McIntosh, she’s “been around in everything bar the Melbourne to Warrnambool Road Race”. Already raced in four states, at just 2yo, she kicked off her Magic Millions preparation with an unplaced run in a Stakes race at Sandown in November. Claimed the Millions, headed back to Sydney for a G3 win before finishing just out of the placings back in Melbourne for the Blue Diamond then just found one too good in The Slipper. Showed what she’s made of by backing up three weeks later and claiming a G2 on a heavy track at Randwick then was far disgraced running 5th against open company in the G1 Goodwood in SA. If she never wins another race she’s more than done her job for her connections but you have to wonder what such an intense schedule has taken out of such a young horse.
Rothfire: He might be current second favourite in the Golden Rose but I’ve got him down as a query here for the simple fact that although he was a dominant winner in the J.J. Atkins, it was a bastardised version of what is generally a strong form race. I can’t imagine we’ll be talking about either the 2nd or 3rd horses when it comes Golden Rose time or open G1 races, whilst the run of the race was the 4th horse Overlord who would have been blowing steam up his tail the final furlong from a decent draw and at the traditional 1600m trip. No doubt he’s a talent, but shopping unders for mine at the moment.
Blue Diamond winner Tagaloa is yet to put in a bad run, although I can’t say I could make a call on whether he’d be expected to train on at 3yo given his unfamiliar pedigree. If you like him then you would also have to consider Hanseatic who is worth forgiving on his one bad run in The Slipper by which time he’d probably had enough.
As stated earlier, the bar was set quite high by last years 2yo’s but that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of talent here. The win of Farnan in The Slipper was that of an exceptional horse for my eye and you know what you are going to get with one of Gai’s. He’s going to be ready from the time he resumes and hard to beat in everything he runs in. His talent is obvious which means he’s short enough in early markets but for good reason which means he may well be worth anchoring in doubles. Give Nash his time over and Mamaragan no doubt wins The Sires. If that’s the case then you could probably swap him and King’s Legacy in the markets so there’s a case to say you are shopping ‘overs’ there. I’d be happy to see King’s Legacy in a Golden Race at this point but I’m tipping I’ll want to be on him in everything after that. Overlord and Prague are the two for me though. Think Prague is going to be the big improver at 3yo whilst Overlord has looked every bit a genuine 3yo old middle-distance type from his first outing. I think they represent genuine value. Staying out of Away Game possibly at my own peril as she is as tough as nails. And Rothfire far too short given the way things panned out for the QLD winter carnival. Prepared to take a punt and take that pair on and back my judgement by sending my hard earned elsewhere. Which is what it’s all about right? Good luck.