By Ray Hickson
If the unbeaten Yao Dash can complete a supersonic rise by winning the Group 1 $1m De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose (1400m) he’ll have done it faster than any other winner of the signature spring three-year-old feature.
Yao Dash, who only debuted less than six weeks ago, will be having just his third race start.
There have been 14 editions of the Golden Rose to date and Court Command (2006) and Hallowed Crown (2014) both won at their fourth appearance, Manawanui (2011) and The Autumn Sun (2018) at start five, while Denman (2009), Zoustar (2013), Exosphere (2015) and Astern (2016) all won at their sixth.
Trainers Gai Waterhouse Adrian Bott are convinced Yao Dash is up to Group 1 standard but Bott says he didn’t think he’d make it there so quickly.
“He's not as seasoned as his opposition so he has that against him, he has to handle the significant class rise and the pressure of that quality of horse,’’ Bott said.
“We're asking a big question of him and it'll be interesting to see how he responds.
“But you don't often see horses win the way he did on debut in what is such a competitive landscape. The acceleration he showed you don't see that in an average horse.’’
Manawanui is the last gelding to win the Golden Rose, a Sydney Group 1 Waterhouse is yet to win, and the rise of Yao Dash has been respected looking at his place in the TAB market at $6, the same line of betting as Yes Yes Yes.
He does have a compelling form line having held off Funstar, who last week downed Libertini in the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes, over 1300m at Randwick three weeks ago.
If inexperience is against Yao Dash, what does he have on his side?
“He's an improver, he's versatile on track conditions and racing patterns, he has tactical speed and a great turn of foot,’’ Bott said.
“He certainly has a number of things in his favour and I don't think we've seen the best of him yet.
“The horse has done very well since his last run and that's been the deciding factor in us pushing on to the race.’’
That tactical speed could be vital in the Rose – Yao Dash ran his first 100m in 7.99 last start, almost a length faster than the next best, and a first 300m in 18.20 (Punter’s Intelligence) so he’ll certainly be fast off the blocks.
Yao Dash’s stablemate Dawn Passage looked on target for the Group 1 when he claimed The Rosebud (1100m) first-up from a spell but raced below par beaten eight lengths by Bivouac in The Run To The Rose (1200m).
Bott said the colt ($26) will likely be ridden more conservatively, and in keeping with his previous three starts, from the outside gate with the blinkers off.
“Prior to that last run he'd been faultless in what he'd done,’’ he said.
Yao Dash wins at Randwick on September 7
“For us he's always shown he's of this quality so it was disappointing to see that performance. In fairness he'd had a fair bit of time between his first-up run and that run.
“He's been kept up to the mark since. I'd be very forgiving, you'd only have to look back to his first-up run to see how impressive he was.’’
Meanwhile, next Saturday’s Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) will be in Con Te Partiro’s sights if she takes out the Group 2 $200,000 Tooheys 150th Shannon Stakes (1500m).
The imported mare is on the back up after running 10th in the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle last week, a run that has been well documented for how unlucky she was.
“It wasn't a taxing run for her so we had no hesitation in backing her up,’’ Bott said.
“She enjoyed the run of the race at Newcastle but unfortunately couldn't get out when she wanted to. She would have been well and truly in the finish there so her form should read better.
“She's one that needs things to fall into place for her to get the result. That hasn't happened for her yet but when it does she has good acceleration there.’’