Superstar mare Winx headlines a field of eleven horses nominated for Saturday's Gr1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill. The George Ryder is shaping as an intriguing race with the likes of star colt Kementari, dual Gr1 winner Happy Clapper, and Winx's highly promising younger stable-mate D'Argento set to contest the $1 million weight-for-age feature. The Chris Waller-trained Winx surpassed Black Caviar in setting a new Australian record of 16 Group 1 victories when she opened her autumn campaign with an effortless 7 length win in the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick two weeks ago. She will be chasing her 24th consecutive victory in the George Ryder, after which connections will decide whether or not to embark on an international campaign aimed at Royal Ascot. Click here to view Rosehill nominations.
At Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, what is likely to prove one of the form races of the season for 3YOs could equally turn out to have posed more questions than answers. Over the 1400m journey, Darley's former Champion Australian Sire & 11-time Gr1-winning World Champion Miler Lonhro (Octagonal-Shadea, by Straight Strike) added a Group race success when 3YO Australian-bred colt Kementari (Lonhro-Yavanna, by Redoute's Choice) made it back-to-back stakes wins in saluting by a length for trainer James Cummings in the $400,000 Gr2 Hobartville Stakes for 3YO colts & geldings. Not content to ride for luck, jockey Glyn Schofield pinged favourite Kementari from his wide barrier to sit just off Gr1 Golden Rose winner Trapeze Artist before wresting control soon after entering the straight. A significant plunge on recent Magic Millions 3YO Guineas hero Pierata after he had left the mounting yard was close to the money with the rising star 3YO colt closing strongly to finish just ahead of equally impressive hitherto unbeaten colt D'Argento. Godolphin's assistant trainer Darren Beadman was hugely impressed with the run, enthusing, "To run past a horse like Trapeze Artist, who has the runs on the board, was very impressive. This was a test for him (Kementari) today and he has put them away nicely. We have seen a star in the making." Kementari's win took his record to 3 wins (including last start's Gr3 Eskimo Prince Stakes) & 3 placings (including the Gr1 Caulfield Guineas & Gr3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude) from 8 starts for $781,250 earnings. The result sets up a hugely intriguing Gr1 Randwick Guineas in less than two weeks. Bookies have priced Kementari $3 favourite for the Sydney 3YO mile feature ahead of D'Argento ($4.20) and Pierata ($6.00). Fifth-placed dual Gr1 winner Ace High ran a bottler and will be much better suited over the mile for which he is at $15. Looking ahead to Kementari's Randwick Guineas engagement, Beadman was emphatic: "This colt has a mile written all over him. He is very brilliant but is a clean-winded horse and that will assist him in getting a strong 1600m."
Trainer Greg Hickman is quietly confident that rising star colt Pierata (Pierro-November Flight, by Flying Spur) will acquit himself well in tomorrow's Gr2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill. Pierata - who has built an imposing record of 4 wins from 8 starts including the Gr3 Vo Rogue Plate at Doomben and Listed (R) Magic Millions 3YO Guineas at the Gold Coast - faces the biggest challenge of his career in the $400,000 3YO feature. The son of Pierro will be up against a high-class line-up that includes Golden Rose winner Trapeze Artist, VRC Derby & Spring Champion Stakes winner Ace High, Kementari, and boom colt D'Argento. "My jockey [Corey Brown] loves my horse and he's done well through the week," Hickman told racingnsw.com.au. "If he comes out and beats them all it'll be happy days. You don't get many horses that have had eight starts and won nearly $2 million and if worse comes to worse we can go back to the Gold Coast next year." Hickman added: "He's just improved every time he's gone around. He's done everything right and whatever happens, happens." Hickman says Pierata has the potential to be the best horse he has ever trained. That's high praise indeed when you consider he has prepared horses such as Gr2 winners Sportsman, Sir Dex, and the enigmatic but richly talented Private Secretary. "This bloke has been unassuming. Yes he's done everything right but he's not doing anything different to the other horses," he said. "The only thing with this bloke is there's nothing wrong with him. If he stays sound that's why he'll end up being better. I'm just happy to be racing in Group races again, having some nice horses around."
Highly regarded colt Kementari (Lonhro-Yavanna, by Redoute's Choice) will be out to test his Guineas credentials when he contests the $400,000 Gr2 ATC Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday. Kementari turned in one of the most eye-catching performances by a 3YO this season when resuming with a dashing win in the Gr3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Warwick Farm on 10 February. The dynamic nature of the win prompted Godolphin trainer James Cummings to label the son of Lonhro "world class" and showed why the royal blue army consider him a leading contender for the $1 million Gr1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) in Sydney on 10 March. "He was well-treated under the conditions of his last race. Now he has to step up again at level weights against some very good three-year-olds in the Hobartville," Cummings told Godolphin.com. "This is all about who's the best." Cummings added: "His first-up win spoke for itself...he was able to take his first-up run very well and he's held his form nicely. He's made me eager to get him back to the races." Chief among Kementari's rivals on Saturday are Magic Millions 3YO Guineas winner Pierata, Gr1 Golden Rose winner Trapeze Artist, and Chris Waller's exciting unbeaten colt D'Argento.
Trainer Chris Waller will decide this week whether or not to send smart colt D'Argento for a break or keep him in work for better races in the spring, reports racingnsw.com.au. The flashy grey son of former champion racehorse So You Think extended his unbeaten record to 2 wins from as many starts when scoring a narrow but decisive 0.3 length win in the 2YO handicap over 1500 metres at Rosehill on Saturday. Waller said it was tempting to aim D'Argento at early season 3YO features such as the Gr3 Gloaming Stakes (23 September) and Gr1 Spring Champion Stakes (7 October), but that it would probably be in the horse's best interests to wait a little longer. "My gut tells me just back off and wait for the end of the spring," Waller said. "It'd be easy to target races like the Gloaming and Spring Champion but my gut tells me to wait for a Carbine Club at the end of the spring." He added: "The beauty of the spring is that there are so many options and you've got to be strong late as well as at the start. He'll tell us on Monday whether he'll go the paddock for a couple of weeks or stay in work." The Gr3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) will be run at Flemington on 29 October. Purchased by Denise Martin's Star Thoroughbreds for $135,000 at the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, D'Argento is out of Listed MRC Debutante Stakes winner Fullazz (Redoute's Choice) and hails from the family of stakes winners Laudemio, Loving Cup, and Vintage Dance, the latter being the dam of 5-time stakes winner Pittance.
Hugh Bowman further enhanced his reputation as one of the world's premier jockeys when claiming his fourth NSW Metropolitan Jockey Premiership at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday. Bowman claimed a double aboard the unbeaten Chris Waller-trained colt D'Argento and smart provincial mare Prada Miss to finish the 2016-17 season with 81 winners (from 405 rides at a strike rate of 20%). Bowman edged out Brenton Avdulla who finished with 78.5 wins for the season. "I'm very proud of what I've been able to do," Bowman said. "It gives me great satisfaction that I was in a position where Brenton was commanding, but I was able to stay focused and get the job done."
Despite taking on a field of quality fellow late season 2YOs in tomorrow's opening race at Rosehill Gardens, the Chris Waller-trained colt D'Argento has met with sustained support to back up his debut win at Newcastle a fortnight ago. Bookmakers have reported a deluge of support for the son of boom stallion and former champion racehorse So You Think since markets first opened, and D'Argento is now a pronounced even money favourite. Campaigned by Star Thoroughbreds, who purchased him for $135,000 at the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, the grey juvenile is expected to relish the step up to 1500m in what some bookies are describing as a significant plunge.