Saturday’s Rosehill meeting marked the end of the first half of winter with the aptly named Winter Stakes as the feature.
Six weeks down folks, and six weeks to go. Although in light of everything else we’ve had to endure in 2020, a few more weeks of single digit morning temperatures seems the least of our worries at present.
And it might just be that exact time period before we get back to anywhere near a ‘Good’ track in Sydney with some heavy rain forecast this coming week on the back of unpredicted showers after acceptances last week spiralling the Rosehill circuit from the better side of ‘Soft’, back into another genuine ‘Heavy’.
Not ideal under any circumstances although the one positive is it certainly makes the form of the last month or so a lot easier to line up, meaning the punters should have got it right, and they did, as is evident in the SP’s of the winners of the great majority of Saturday’s races.
North Pacific: (Syd Race 1) Don’t like to get too excited about late season 2yo’s but this colt’s win was comprehensive which is what you might expect at this time of year out of something that got within 5L of Golden Slipper winner Farnan on debut. But it was more so the manner in which he went about it than the margin that impressed me most. Having just his second race start, he drew the fence in the first of the day on what we all assumed would be a testing track but looked like a push button ride allowing his rider to ease across heels at the 350m before pinning the ears back and forging clear from the 200m. Obviously well handled as usual by Team Hawkes, and great to see Koby Jennings making the most of his opportunities in town. Both rider and horse look to be going places.
Varda: (Syd Race 5) On the back of the impressive Tailluer last week, the Godolphin team once again produced a 3yo filly that appears destined for much higher honours in what is traditionally a quiet time of year. But unlike her stablemate last week, Varda, being by Lonhro and having race experience on her side, knuckled down immediately when asked to go and put the race beyond doubt at the 100m. Far too good for them at Bm78 F+M grade, I’d suggest she’ll win at least one more race better than this during her preparation.
Noble Boy: (Syd Race 7) Have to put my hand up here after I banished this bloke to the ‘Forget’ file a month ago after his first two runs in for the new stable. He has always been somewhat of an enigma with well reported feet issues and on what I’d seen at that point in time, I figured he was always going to remain a riddle for Clair Cunningham, never to reach his true potential. Certainly aided by the wet tracks this time in but that is to take nothing away from the trainer and her partner, the white hot hoop Jason Collett, who although took a bit longer than my patience (and wallet) could handle, seem to have finally worked this bloke out with him claiming his first stakes victory at just the fourth start under their guidance. Was clearly doing the best of them over the final stages so there’s no reason why he can’t repeat the dose out to 1500m back at Rosehill in a fortnights time in the Winter Challenge.
Taikomochi: (Syd Race 7) Solid return from this stakes performed stayer who whilst he isn’t a noted first up performer, he rarely runs a bad race. The stable mates looked the natural leaders on paper without a lot of pressure. Something Quade Krogh well and truly took advantage of in the run, earning a reprimand from the stewards for stacking them up mid race. It took a handy sprinter in the hard-fit Noble Boy to run him down late. He’s a black type winner out to a mile and half so looks set for a good preparation. Imagine he’ll go around again in the Winter Challenge over 1500m back at Rosehill in a fortnight and take some catching again.
Sikandarabad: (Syd Race 7) Ex-Hayes galloper now with recently returned trainer Sam Kavanagh. Had little option but to work up into the three wide slot when the pace slackened dramatically mid race. Was entitled to drop out over the final stages on the back of that, but boxed on gamely right to the line only going down a little over a length first up. He’ll be improved by that, and with a little swing in the weights, might be able to turn the tables.
Prime Candidate: (Race 8) Thought he would have worked across even from the bad draw and landed outside the leader but was forced to work four deep early after You Make Me Smile was given a dig in the ribs jumping out and then proceeded to bolt once it saw daylight. He knocked up to run third last, whilst Prime Candidate was left no better than three deep the trip once leader Oakfield Twilight elected not to roll down to the fence on the Heavy track late in the day. He had no right to hang on as long as he did being just 2nd up and given the eventual winner Inanup camped midfield the fence and never went around a horse. Should be in peak shape next time out and I’m certain his trainer will be hoping for a victory after what has been a long start to the first half of Winter.
Night of Power: (Syd Race 6) Isn’t at home on the wet tracks, and it will be awhile before he finds a dry one around here.
Ready to Prophet: (Syd Race 7) Going awful. Did no work to slot in outside lead, first one gone turning for home, and vetted clean post race.
Sambro: (Syd Race 7) Feel like I’m picking on him giving him a mention here again but this is a horse that hasn’t won for approaching 800 days and was sent out $6.50 in a solid stakes race. Copped a nasty check mid race when the pace slackened dramatically, no fault of his own, but that would only serve to further dent his confidence. And that of the punter, I hope.