By Brad Gray
At Royal Randwick
Plague Stone took the first step to a possible Golden Rose tilt over the spring in taking out the Rosebud Prelude (1000m), but it was the run of the second-placed Witherspoon that deserves equal attention.
Punters Intel reveals the Brad Widdup-trained filly ran splits of 10.41, 10.79, 11.04 from the 800-200m before still producing 11.55s her last 200m. That forced Plague Stone to produce a sizzling last 600m of 32.66s to win the race. The official overall time for the race was 56.84s.
“She was tremendous in defeat,” said Witherspoon’s jockey Blake Shinn, “She is a high speed filly, gave me a lovely ride out in front and gave them something to catch but got beaten by a smart one.”
As for the winner, Plague Stone will next be sighted in The Rosebud in three weeks’ time. It was encouraging to see the boom colt settle into a rhythm, having had the tendency to over race in the past, before reeling in the winner in what was a very professional display. Even in the yard he was notably relaxed.
“He was afforded a smooth ride in transit,” said James Cummings, “And it was probably the smoothest ride he was able to receive in his short career so far and that gave him the opportunity to show what he has which is a blistering finish.
“He is going to keep building on this performance but he switched off and got into his rhythm the way we needed him too.”
Plague Stone winning at $2.15 first up
Hugh Bowman, who admitted to always feeling in control despite the tardy getaway, was the man responsible for that smooth ride and he expects the form from the race to prove strong.
“It’ll be a pretty good race I think, above average. I know it is not carnival time but I think we have seen a couple of carnival horses in this race,” said Bowman.
“He has a high profile and was expected to win. Once he gets over further he’ll be more dominant but he needs to race the right way.”
Then there was the run of the third-placed The Tenor, ridden by Brenton Avdulla and trained by Kris Lees, who cost himself any chance by ducking in at the finish. Given it was only his second start having won at Newcastle on debut over 900m, the Your Song colt is another worth following from the race.
“He ran well, he just doesn’t know what he is doing. He is a nice horse going forward,” said Avdulla.