THE STARTING GATE
By Ray Hickson
The Climb Begins
If not for The Everest, Sydney wouldn’t be seeing the world’s best sprinter Chautauqua at all this spring.
The popular grey wouldn’t have captured any attention at the trials as he has twice in the past few weeks because he’d have been prepared down south as he has every spring since his debut in 2013.
But in a promoter’s dream for the first Group 1 race meeting of the Sydney spring Chautauqua resumes in a ‘mini-Everest’ Group 2 The Shorts against fellow Everest contenders Fell Swoop and English on the same day Winx attempts to make it 20 straight wins in the George Main Stakes.
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes appreciates that Chautauqua is a headline horse and applauded the Australian Turf Club and Racing NSW for revamping the spring sprinting program.
“It’s a good position for a race like the Everest to be in,’’ Hawkes said.
Chautauqua's second barrier trial at Rosehill - September 4
“For sprinting horses there hasn’t been a lot around in the spring. That’s why he’s done most of his work in Melbourne because he’s always been in Melbourne for the spring.
“It sits well where it is in the program.’’
Chautauqua, winner of the last three TJ Smith Stakes, has been favourite for the inaugural $10 million The Everest, run at Randwick on October 14, since markets opened and all eyes have been on his quiet trials.
With new race jockey Brenton Avdulla on board he hasn’t been asked for much in his gallops but Hawkes said he’s where he needs to be with The Everest his third run back.
“We’re happy with him, he’s had the two trials now and obviously will have a couple of runs leading into it but it’s a long way to go to get there,’’ Hawkes said.
“It’s generating a lot of interest, and so is our bloke, and that’s what it is about.’’
The Main Event
As for Winx, trainer Chris Waller said the champ is in great shape ahead of her Group 1 assignment on Saturday where we’ll see if Red Excitement can make her stretch her neck once more.
Waller said Winx put on 3kg after the race and is pulling up from her races better than ever.
A look through the Punter’s Intel data from the Chelmsford Stakes shows Red Excitement ran fairly consistent sectionals in the early half of the Randwick mile before picking it up from the 800m.
“We went through the sectional times and to us the first half of the race was run relatively slow and the second half pretty quick. So I’m happy with the way she is going,’’ Waller said.
Red Excitement ran 11.20 from the 800m to the 600, then 11.29 (600m-400m) and 11.35 (400m to 200m) which forced Winx to carve out sectionals of 10.98, 11.08 and 10.80 and still ran the fastest last 200m of the race in 11.22 to reel him in.
The long awaited debut of the Frankel-More Joyous filly Woman is just two days away and Wendesday’s meeting at Canterbury will be the setting.
Woman's barrier trial at Rosehill - September 4
Trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott have taken their time with the three-year-old who has left no doubt that she possesses ability in her barrier trials.
“No doubt she is a filly that will excel when she gets over further,’’ Bott said.
“She’s doing it all on raw and natural ability at the moment. She’s going to be a classy filly for us going forward so we’ve been patient up to now and we will continue to do that.’’
Of course Frankel is a global superstar and More Joyous, who was trained by Waterhouse, won eight Group 1 races including the Queen Of The Turf-Doncaster-Queen Elizabeth treble in 2012.
Woman will contest a 1250m Fillies Maiden at Canterbury with no more than seven rivals.
“It looks a nice race to kick her off in and will help decide the way forward,’’ Bott said.
“She will most likely have a light spring then I think you’ll really see the benefit of that with a good autumn.’’
Horses to follow
Sanctioned (Rosehill): proved no match for the winner over the 1500m but stamped himself as a horse likely to excel as the races get a bit longer. The Punter’s Intel data had him running the fastest last 600m of the Stan Fox (33.73) and was fastest from the 400m to the 200m in 11.01.
Danish Twist (Rosehill): one of the most unlucky runners on the day, she was held up from near the home turn and had to change course a couple of times before flashing home when race was over. Considering she spent a lot of time checking her last 600m of 33.03, fastest of the Sheraco, was outstanding.
Dancers (Kembla Grange): was a surprise winner on debut but showed it was no fluke as she steamed home from well off the speed into third, just over a length off the winner. Looks an improving filly and a bit more ground should be up her alley.