By Ray Hickson
When the man who trains Winx lays the word ‘superstar’ on a horse that isn’t her you have to pay attention.
Enter The Autumn Sun.
And in the moments after he gave trainer Chris Waller his second Group 1 $1m De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose (1400m) the performance moved Waller to bestow that title on the valuable colt.
The final 200m was an easy watch for Waller as stablemate Zousain swept to the front but it’s clear The Autumn Sun is a cut above.
“He’s a superstar. A superstar,’’ Waller said.
“The last 200m you don’t care because they are my boys and it’s special to see them fighting out the finish.
“He had no luck last start, the racing gods were against him that day. It could have been the same from that (outside) draw but class prevailed on a better track.’’
It was the second time The Autumn Sun has denied Zousain a Group 1, following the JJ Atkins in the Brisbane winter, and Waller will split them up for the rest of the spring.
The Autumn Sun is headed for a Caulfield Guineas, where Waller says "he’ll be two lengths better when he gets to a mile’’, while Zousain will target the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
“I don’t know how far we will push in the spring but how good is he? He’s a pretty good horse,’’ Waller said.
“He is a Derby horse and the owners are hell bent on winning a Derby and that comes first and foremost.
“I’d be pushing him not to rush into a spring Derby because it’s a long way for a young horse. We’ll see who gets the good say, the trainer or the owner.’’
It was Waller’s second Golden Rose after success in 2013 with Zoustar, sire of Zousain and Lean Mean Machine.
Waller was doing plenty of grandstand jockeying as the Golden Rose was run, particularly focusing on Kerrin McEvoy on The Autumn Sun following his luckless defeat in the Stan Fox Stakes earlier this month.
Given the sectionals that Punters Intel data reveals he ran – a last 600m of 33.56, more than half a second faster than any other runner, and a booming last 200m of 11.30 – The Autumn Sun clearly had plenty on his opposition.
“I just said ‘Kerrin please get to the outside, please get to the outside’,’’ Waller said.
The Autumn Sun proves too classy in the Group 1 Golden Rose at Rosehill
"I thought he was going to take a gap at the 350m and for the last time I said ‘go to the outside’.
“When he came to the outside thank God, because he needed the length of the straight. Zousain looked all but Zoustar when he hit the front but I think he was beaten by a better horse.’’
Kerrin McEvoy, who also won his second Golden Rose following Denman in 2009, said for The Autumn Sun to win under the circumstances that prevailed, having to round up the entire field, is the sign of a special horse.
“He’s taken all before him up in Brisbane and was desperately unlucky last start first up but well played to Chris and the team - they put blinkers on him today,’’ he said.
“He had to do it all, he was still last at the 300m but what a powerful engine he’s got.
“To do that in what I really think is below his best trip shows how classy he is.”
Waller said Zousain was brave in defeat and warned not to be too hard on Lean Mean Machine, who finished fifth after over racing early.
The favourite Graff settled in the second half of the field and momentarily loomed as a winning chance but he couldn’t match the sprint of The Autumn Sun.