By Ray Hickson
It’s widely held that the Randwick Guineas was a Group 1 that got away from Mo’unga but jockey Tommy Berry is confident he can correct the leger at Rosehill on Saturday.
The Group 1 $600,000 Sky Racing Rosehill Guineas (2000m) has long been the pot of gold for the smart three-year-old and, given the unlucky circumstances, the defeat at Randwick hurt Berry so you can imagine how much he wants redemption.
Lion’s Roar won the Randwick Guineas with an uninterrupted run as Mo’unga was being held up but Berry wore a flashing light on his cap over the last 200m as he charged into second.
“Very much like Lion’s Roar if we won it would have been a bonus as it was for him. This has definitely been his target race,’’ Berry said.
“I have a lot of respect for Lion’s Roar, he has the 2000m form from the Spring Champion and you can’t discount that because our bloke hasn’t got that yet.
“But his last run suggests he’ll run 2000m no problem. He has a bit of class on his side and all things equal I think he will be winning.”
It seems the punters agree as Mo’unga was a commanding $2.60 favourite with TAB on Thursday ahead of Lion’s Roar ($4.40) and the two-time Group 1 winning filly Montefilia ($5).
A win would hand trainer Annabel Neasham her first success at Group 1 level and Berry has an open mind about how the race will be run but is certain the conditions will allow him a clear shot.
Mo'unga has a dazzling turn of foot, as displayed at Randwick as he clocked the fastest last 200m of the Guineas (11.38, Punter’s Intelligence).
“He’s won on a heavy at his first start but this track is going to be a bit different,’’ he said.
“I can make an effort to have (Lunar Fox) on my inside most of the way and that’s going to give us a spot one off the fence. But things can change on the day so we will see what happens.”
Like connections of Mo’unga, trainer John O’Shea has always earmarked Lion’s Roar for the Rosehill Guineas and his win at Randwick only served to consolidate his view that plans were on track.
Interestingly, O’Shea said there’s still some upside with the gelding and next month’s Australian Derby, where he’s $11 with TAB, is still on the radar.
“This has been the race we’ve wanted to run in all season so hopefully it all plays out well for us,’’ O’Shea said.
“He won’t come to a peak until his fourth or fifth run so I’d be optimistic he will run well.
“He’s enjoying the lengthening of his work so with that in mind as we get beyond 2000m we will hopefully have a bit of luck.
“He won his first race on a heavy so we’re not too perplexed by wet ground.’’
Chris Waller won the Rosehill Guineas in 2018 with D’Argento and 2019 with The Autumn Sun and is quietly confident his three charges in Saturday’s renewal are ready to run their best races.
Lion's Roar wins the Randwick Guineas from Mo'unga March 6
Wheelhouse put himself into the mix with a close fourth in the Randwick Guineas after racing wide, The Elanora made up ground for a midfield finish in the same race and Bucharest was less than a length behind him.
The latter hasn’t raced on a heavy track while Wheelhouse and The Elanora have recorded placings but Waller, who ironically is the former trainer of the favourite Mo'unga, is questioning whether the form can be trusted out of that race.
“I can’t split all three, they will appreciate getting out to 2000m,’’ he said.
“Wheelhouse was excellent in the Randwick Guineas and the other two were only fair. But it was hard to make up ground that day and I think the form lines might change out of that day at Randwick.
“The Elanora would have clearly been my first pick after his impressive win in Queensland, Bucharest has done nothing wrong and he has the right bloodlines to be performing in these big races over 2000m.
“And Wheelhouse. We’ve got nothing to worry about, he’s ready to go.”