The New South Wales Racehorse Owners Association (NSWROA) has announced the nominations for its annual 'Racing's Night Of Champions' awards ceremony to be held in the Royal Randwick Ballroom of the Australian Turf Club in Sydney on 16 August. The nominees are:
Other awards to be presented on the night include the BOBS Horse of the Year, the Sydney Strapper of the Year, the NSW Racing Writers' Personality of the Year, the T J Smith Award, the George Moore Award, the Theo Green Award, the Bart Cummings Medal and of course, the NSW Champion Horse of the Year. The awards night will again be televised "live" on Sky Thoroughbred Central on the Foxtel platform, and also internationally by NSWROA's exclusive media partner Sky Racing, with highlights of the night also being shown across all Sky Racing channels.
On day two of The Championships at Royal Randwick, Darley's deceased shuttler & Gr1 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry (Machiavellian-Helen Street, by Troy) celebrated an elite race success when his champion 6YO daughter Winx (Street Cry-Vegas Showgirl, by Al Akbar) created history on several fronts when strolling to an outstanding last-to-first win in the showpiece event of The Championships - the weight-for-age $4 million Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) - defeating Gailo Chop & Happy Clapper. The victory, which not only saw Winx equal Black Caviar's record of 25 straight wins but also become the first mare to win successive Queen Elizabeth's, advanced her record to an astonishing 29 wins (including the Gr1 Cox Plate – three times, Gr1 George Ryder Stakes - three times, Gr1 Turnbull Stakes, Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Gr1 Caulfield Stakes, Gr1 George Main Stakes - twice, Gr1 Doncaster Mile, Gr1 Chipping Norton Stakes – three times, Gr1 Epsom Handicap, Gr1 Queensland Oaks, Gr2 Chelmsford Stakes, Gr2 Warwick Stakes – twice, Gr2 Apollo Stakes - twice, Gr2 Theo Marks Stakes, Gr2 Phar Lap Stakes & Gr2 Furious Stakes) and 3 placings (including the Gr1 Australian Oaks & Gr1 Flight Stakes) from 35 starts for Australian record earnings of $18,998,425. Trainer Chris Waller was in awe of Winx's accomplishment, saying she was not only a superior racehorse but that she excels under pressure. "It's hard to find the right words but that was very special, there was an arrogance about it," Waller told the Daily Telegraph. "She keeps lifting for the big occasions. Winx is a very dominant horse under pressure. It's only in those pressure scenarios that we see the best from her." As for Hugh Bowman, the Dunedoo-born jockey said he was just honoured to be a part of the Winx story. "The bottom line is she's got 10 to 12 lengths on her rivals, it makes it easy for me," Bowman said. "I know I've got the engine to round them up. She's just an exceptional athlete. I'm just so elated, I'm so proud of her and I'm just so proud to be a part of it." Winx was a $230,000 Magic Bloodstock purchase at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale from the draft of Coolmore Stud.
Winx's wonderful milestones:
Hugh Bowman says Winx will face her toughest challenge in years when she lines up in tomorrow's $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick. "It's probably the hardest task she has had for quite some time and when I say that I mean a couple of years, probably [since] her first Cox Plate. It's going to be one hell of a race and all we want it a smooth passage," Bowman told Racing NSW. "Usually there is one main horse to be focused on but this week there is three or four or maybe even five that are primed for their target." He added: "If Gailo Chop is allowed to control things to his liking he will take some running down. If the pressure is right on he might be feeling the pinch from the 200-300m mark but if that's the case a horse like Humidor or Ambitious, who I thought was very impressive in the Tancred Stakes, will be capitalising on the genuine pace...the bottom line is that there are horses there, no matter how the race is run, that are going to perform very, very well." However, despite the healthy respect he has for the opposition, Bowman has absolute faith in Winx. "She's in great order and I'm really happy with how she has come through the George Ryder win. Her work here on Tuesday morning was absolutely outstanding," he said. Winx will attempt to equal Black Caviar's record of 25 consecutive victories and claim her 18th Group 1 title in the Queen Elizabeth. The Chris Waller-trained superstar already holds the world record for most number of Group 1 victories which stands at 17 after her win in the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill on 24 March.
The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for the showpiece event of The Championships, the weight-for-age $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) to be run at Royal Randwick this Saturday. First run in 1851 as the Queen's Plate, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes has been won by champion Australian racehorses including Carbine (1889-91), Wakeful (1901), Phar Lap (1930), Peter Pan (1933), Flight (1946), Tulloch (1960 & 61), Ming Dynasty (1978), Rough Habit (1992), Veandercross (1993), Might And Power (1998), Lonhro (2003), Grand Armee (2004 & 05), and of course Winx (2017). Headlining this year's 10-horse field is the world's best horse Winx who will attempt to equal Black Caviar's record of 25 consecutive victories and claim her 18th Group 1 title. The Chris Waller-trained superstar set a new world record of 17 Group 1 victories (surpassing US champion John Henry) when landing the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill on 24 March. Winx has drawn the outside gate (10) for the Queen Elizabeth but bookmakers are unperturbed, with the mighty mare a $1.15 chance with TAB to continue on her inexorable path to greatness. Unsurprisingly, all other runners are at double figure odds with Humidor next preferred in the market at $11, followed by Happy Clapper and Gailo Chop at $13.
Trainer Stephen McKee is under no illusions about taking on Winx in Saturday's $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick with Kiwi mare Consensus, reports NZ Racing Desk. "I don't see it as running against Winx. I see it as the $755,000 [prize money] for running second," McKee said. "Gailo Chop and all the other good ones will be there, but the breakdown of prize-money is great and the track should be good, which will suit our mare." A winner of last year's Gr1 Zabeel Classic (2000m), Consensus has been in good form this season recording a runner-up finish in the Gr1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m), a fourth in the Gr1 Zabeel Classic, and most recently a second behind Devise in the Gr1 WFA Classic (1600m) at Hastings. "She's got a lot of black type so she's really got nothing left to prove at home," McKee said. Most recently, the 6YO finished a respectable fourth behind Almandin in the Gr1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill in her first Australian appearance. "She came through the race well and she had a nice hit-out this morning with Jason Collett on board," McKee said. "This race fits in well for the mare before she goes to Brisbane." Consensus' primary winter target is the Gr1 Doomben Cup (2000m) on 19 May.
At Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, 7YO French-bred gelding Gailo Chop (Deportivo-Grenoble, by Marignan) proved beyond doubt that he is one of the premier middle-distance gallopers in the country when surging clear late for a dominant win in the $700,000 weight-for-age Gr1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) for 3YO+, defeating Single Gaze & Prized Icon. Owned by OTI Racing, Gailo Chop advanced his record to 13 wins (including the Gr1 Caulfield Stakes, Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes, Gr2 Peter Young Stakes, Gr3 TS Carlyon Cup, Gr3 La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte & Listed Penny Edition Stakes) and 6 placings (including the Gr1 Australian Cup & Gr1 Prix d'Ispahan) from 27 starts for $3,268,047 in earnings. Gailo Chop, who provided his trainer Darren Weir with his first Group 1 winner in Sydney, is expected to back up in Saturday's $1.5 million Gr1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Rosehill. He will bid to add his name to an honour roll that includes some of greatest names of the Australian turf, including Kingston Town, Bonecrusher, Beau Zam, Octagonal, Might and Power, Tie The Knot and Makybe Diva. "He's very hard to beat over the 2000 metres...he's an incredible horse," stable representative Jarrod McLean told Sky Racing. "I think we've got to have a crack [at the Tancred]. We're up here now, we'll push that way with him and see how he goes. I think he'll run the trip, there's no worries with the back-up."
At Mornington south of Melbourne, Darley's former Gr1 Racing Post Trophy winning stallion Casamento (Shamardal-Wedding Gift, by Always Fair) added a black-type success when 4YO Irish-bred gelding Kings Will Dream (Casamento-Road Harbour, by Rodrigo De Triano) showed why he is considered one of the most exciting stayers in training when bounding clear for a most impressive 5 length win in the $300,000 Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) for 3YO+, defeating Harrison & Fastnet Dragon. Trainer Darren Weir said the highly progressive import will now be spelled and aimed at the Gr1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) in the spring. "I think we will spell him and focus on the spring," Weir told racing.com. "I'm not sure where he fits in if you take a line through a Gailo Chop or a Humidor, they're very good horses and he's got to come up a little bit to get to them but he's certainly the right style of horse." He added: "He's beautiful and sound and he's done everything we've asked of him so far." Kings Will Dream advanced his record to 6 wins and 2 placings from 8 starts for $330,331 in earnings.
At Flemington in Melbourne, 6YO UK-bred entire Harlem (Champs Elysees-Casual, by Nayef) caused a huge 50-1 upset when finding a gap close to the rails in the final furlong to claim the $1.5 million Gr1 Australian Cup (2000m) for 3YO+, defeating fellow imports Gailo Chop & Ventura Storm. In doing so, the Lindsay Park training team of Hayes, Hayes & Dabernig became the first trainers since Lee Freedman in 2005 to claim the rare double of the Newmarket & Australian Cup. What added an even more extraordinary dimension to the result was that only hours earlier the same silks also took away the Gr1 Newmarket Handicap. Harlem was an expensive £520,000 2016 Tattersalls Autumn Horses-in-Training Sale purchase from the draft of Juddmonte Farms and in claiming the Australian Cup improved his record to 4 wins (including the Listed Prix Frederic la Lagrange & Gr3 Naturalism Stakes) and 4 placings (including the Gr3 Prix d'Hedouville, Gr3 Prix de Chantilly, Gr2 Blamey Stakes & Gr3 TS Carlyon Cup) from 20 starts for $1,354,208 in earnings. Harlem is the best performed galloper of the Danehill sire Champs Elysees, a winner of the Gr1 Hollywood Turf Cup.
Last-start Gr1 winner Devise (Darci Brahma-Doeze Girl, by Volksraad) will be given her chance to add black type honours across the Tasman to her record, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Shaune Ritchie-trained mare will head to Melbourne this evening ahead of Saturday's Gr1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington. Chad Schofield has been booked for the $17 chance in a race where Gailo Chop is the clear $2.70 pick. "I watched her work this morning and she has improved and gone to another level since she won the Haunui Farm WFA Classic (see below) and 2000m is definitely her best trip," said Rick Williams, who manages The Oaks Stud for Devise's Australian breeder-owner Dick Karreman. They had been considering a start at Ellerslie in the Gr1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) on Saturday, but an unstable forecast has made Flemington the best option. "She can't win a maiden on a wet track," Williams said. "There's also the option of the Mornington Cup, that's worth $A300,000, in three weeks and the winner of that qualifies for the Caulfield Cup." Karreman has raced a lot of high quality fillies and mares, among them Seachange who was twice New Zealand Horse of the Year.
At Caulfield in Melbourne, 7YO French-bred gelding Gailo Chop (Deportivo-Grenoble, by Marignan) remained unbeaten this preparation when scoring a strong front-running victory in the $200,000 weight-for-age Gr2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) for 3YO+, defeating Single Gaze & Hartnell. Owned by OTI Racing, Gailo Chop advanced his record to 12 wins (including the Gr1 Caulfield Stakes, Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes, Gr3 TS Carlyon Cup, Gr3 La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte & Listed Penny Edition Stakes) and 5 placings (Gr1 Prix d'Ispahan) from 25 starts for $2,589,047 in earnings. Trainer Darren Weir confirmed that Gailo Chop would now head to the Gr1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on 10 March before travelling to Sydney to for the $4 million Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in Sydney on 14 April. "He's a great horse with a great racing style," Weir said. "Just watching him, he really seemed to be enjoying that." Weir added: "He went at a good strong gallop. It was a beautiful bring-on gallop to have him fit enough for the 2000 metres [the Australian Cup] in a couple of weeks."
Godolphin trainer James Cummings sees no reason why stable star Hartnell cannot continue on his winning way in Saturday's Gr2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield. The UK-bred import maintained his excellent first-up record when resuming with a slashing win in the weight-for-age Gr1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield two weeks ago. "He's done even better than I expected. Having him in the rural environment at Osborne Park has suited him perfectly," Cummings told Godolphin.com. "Running him at Caulfield on Saturday will keep him in touch with the other horses and then we'll be taking him back to Sydney and coming back again for the Flemington race." Cummings added: "After that we'll have a think about some Group 1s in Sydney like the Ranvet Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth." Hartnell (Authorized-Debonnaire, by Anabaa) is the current $3.50 TAB favourite for the Peter Young ahead of fellow imported galloper Gailo Chop at $3.60.
At Caulfield in Melbourne, 7YO French-bred gelding Gailo Chop (Deportivo-Grenoble, by Marignan) looks set for a lucrative autumn campaign after resuming with an impressive front-running win in the $150,000 Gr3 TS Carlyon Cup (1600m) for 4YO+, defeating Harlem & Lord Fandango. Owned by OTI Racing, Gailo Chop improved his record to 11 wins (including the Gr1 Caulfield Stakes, Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes, Gr3 La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte & Listed Penny Edition Stakes) and 5 placings (Gr1 Prix d'Ispahan) from 24 starts for $2,468,047 in earnings.
The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for the $3 million Gr1 Cox Plate (2040m) to be run at Moonee Valley on Saturday. Champion mare Winx, who will be attempting to create history by joining the legendary Kingston Town as the only horse to win three Cox Plates, will face just eight rivals in the weight-for-age feature. Winx, who will jump from barrier six, could start the shortest-priced Cox Plate favourite since Phar Lap in 1931 when Australia's greatest racehorse won at odds of $1.07. Winx is currently a $1.15 chance with TAB. Such is Winx's towering reputation, her nearest market rivals are Humidor and Gailo Chop at $18. Click below to view the Cox Plate field.
While Kiwi mare Lizzie L'Amour may be under a cloud for Saturday's $3.15 million Gr1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), her stable-mates Bonneval and Jon Snow have been declared in top order for the world's richest mile-and-a-half handicap. Bonneval and Jon Snow have both been in excellent form this campaign with the former winning both the Gr2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes and Gr1 Underwood Stakes (1800m), before running sixth in Saturday's Gr1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m). "I'm very happy with her. She was last at the 800m and got baulked a couple of times in the straight," co-trainer Murray Baker told NZ Racing Desk. Jon Snow followed up his Gr3 JRA Cup (2040m) win with a solid third placing in the Caulfield Stakes behind the winner Gailo Chop. "He had to run a fast first 600m to get a position and he did very well," Baker said. "Both horses are right on target."
At Caulfield racecourse in Melbourne, French-bred 6YO gelding Gailo Chop (Deportivo-Grenoble, by Marignan) made it a day to remember for his owners OTI Racing when leading throughout to notch the second top-flight win of his career in the $1 million Gr1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) for 3YO+, defeating Johannes Vermeer & Jon Snow. This was Gailo Chop's second Group One success since his win in the Gr1 McKinnon Stakes (now Cantala Stakes) in October 2015. Gailo Chop, who appears to have returned better than ever after a long stint on the sidelines due to a tendon injury, improved his record to 10 wins (including the Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes, Gr3 La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte & Listed Penny Edition Stakes) and 5 placings (Gr1 Prix d'Ispahan) from 21 starts for $2,267,297 in earnings. Gailo Chop will now head to the Gr1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on 28 October but trainer Darren Weir concedes he will only be racing for the minor end of the prize. "Obviously it will be good to have a runner in the Cox Plate but when you see Winx last week, it will be hard for anything to beat her," Weir said. "Gailo Chop has got fitter and stepped up in distance and it just looked like a race today that if he could get to the front he would be able to control it." Weir added: "He got some cheap sectionals down the back and then gave a good kick."
Despite an unplaced finish in Saturday's $1 million Gr1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m), Hartnell has won the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Spring WFA Championship. The Godolphin galloper went into Saturday's fourth and final leg of the series with 18 points. The only other runner in the Caulfield Stakes field who was within striking distance on the table was star New Zealand mare Bonneval with 10. But despite being the two favourites for the weight-for-age race, the pair both finished outside the placings behind the winner Gailo Chop. Back markers Bonneval and Hartnell were unsuited to the tempo of the race and finished sixth and ninth respectively. Hartnell finished the Spring WFA Championship with 18 points, one ahead of last year's champion Black Heart Bart. Gailo Chop earned 10 points from Saturday's win to move into third place on 16, while Bonneval collected one point to finish fourth on 11.
At Caulfield in Melbourne, Westbury Stud's three-time Gr1-winning shuttle stallion Makfi (Dubawi-Dhelaal, by Green Desert) celebrated an elite race success when 4YO New Zealand-bred mare Bonneval (Makfi-Imposingly, by Zabeel) confirmed herself as the second best mare in Australasia [behind Winx] when defeating a high quality field in the $750,000 Gr1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) for 3YO+, over Hartnell & Gailo Chop. The reigning New Zealand Horse of the Year is now unbeaten in her two starts this campaign and improved her record to 7 wins (including the Gr1 Australian Oaks, Gr1 New Zealand Oaks, Gr2 Dato' Tan Chin Nam Stakes, Gr2 Sir Tristram Fillies Classic & Gr3 Hawkes Bay Lowland Stakes) and 1 placing (the Gr3 WRC Desert Gold Stakes) from 10 starts for $1,582,469 in earnings. Co-trainer Murray Baker confirmed Bonneval's primary spring target is the $3.15 million Gr1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on 21 October. "She's still got a bit of her winter coat to lose yet but we thought she had improved a bit from last start," Baker told racing.com. "She's obviously a very good filly. That's her sixth Group win in a row." Baker continued: "We will give her one more run, possibly the Caulfield Stakes, and then the Caulfield Cup." Jockey Hugh Bowman commented: "She's a genuine Cups contender this mare - I just wish I was light enough to ride her. She has a lovely future ahead of her." Bonneval is now the outright TAB favourite for the Caulfield Cup at $5.50 ahead of Humidor at $6. The well-bred Bonneval is a full sister to Gr3 winner Imposing Lass and a half-sister to Gr3 winners Full Of Spirit (Flying Spur) and Lady Cumquat (Duke Of Marmalade) from the Zabeel mare Imposingly, a three-quarter sister to New Zealand Derby winner St Reims and Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes winner and Melbourne Cup runner-up Champagne (both by Zabeel).
At Morphettville in Adelaide, French-bred 6YO gelding Gailo Chop (Deportivo-Grenoble, by Marignan) scored by a half-length for trainer Darren Weir in the $100,270 Listed Penny Edition Stakes (1400m), defeating 6YO gelding Lord Aspen (Good Journey) & 7YO mare Hermosa Beach (Magnus). The win was the first for Gailo Chop since his Gr1 McKinnon Stakes success in October 2015, after which he raced once in France and once in Dubai (Gr1 Sheema Classic). Then followed a long break where he underwent tendon rehabilitation before a return to the track in last month's Gr2 PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield for new trainer Darren Weir. His record now stands at 9 wins (also including the Gr3 La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte) and 4 placings (Gr1 Prix d'Ispahan) from 18 starts for $1,563,297 earnings.
A star-studded field will clash in Saturday's $200,000 Gr2 Charge Of The Light Horse P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m), the first of four races in the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Caulfield Spring WFA Championship. The 14-horse line-up features no fewer than eight individual Group 1 winners - namely Lankan Rupee (Redoute's Choice), Hartnell (Authorized), Black Heart Bart (Blackfriars), Gailo Chop (Deportivo), Humidor (NZ) (Teofilo), He's Our Rokkii (NZ) (Roc de Cambes), Abbey Marie (Redoute's Choice) and Montoya's Secret (High Chaparral). Tosen Stardom (Deep Impact) and Star Exhibit (Statue Of Liberty) have been Group 1-placed. The race will be run as Race 7 at 4:00pm (6:00pm NZT). The winner of Saturday's race will pick up 10 Championship Points, with 8 for second, 6 for third, 4 for fourth, 3 for fifth and 1 each for horses placed sixth, seventh and eighth. The remaining races in the NZB Caulfield Spring Championship Series are the $1m Gr1 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) on 2 September, the $750,000 Gr1 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) on 1 October, and the $1m Gr1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on 14 October.
French-bred galloper Gailo Chop (Deportivo-Grenoble, by Marignan) will continue his racing career under the astute tutelage of champion Victorian trainer Darren Weir. The 2015 Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes winner, who has not raced since finishing seventh in the Gr1 Dubai Sheema Classic in March, has recovered from a tendon injury and is close to returning to work. "Gailo Chop's very interesting. He's undergone tendon rehabilitation...and it's gone very well," co-owner Terry Henderson of OTI Racing told racing.com. "He'll be back in work, full bore, in about three or four weeks. He may miss the Australia Cup, but he'll be ready for later autumn, early winter." Henderson added: "A race like the Hollindale, or the Doomben Cup, looms for that horse."
Trainer Ciaron Maher is confident that 2014 VRC Oaks winner Set Square (Reset-Dynastar, by Zeditave) is in for a big spring after enjoying an extended break over the autumn. The 4YO Reset mare - who hasn't raced since finishing fifth behind Gailo Chop in the Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes on 31 October - is likely to resume in the Gr2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on 13 August, with the Gr1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and Gr1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) other likely targets. "She was always a lighter-framed type of horse but I think having that autumn off has really strengthened her," Maher told Racing.com. "She's really furnished and her action's great. She was very good in the Turnbull last year so we're going to target that race again." He added: "She might come through a race like the Naturalism as well with a view to heading towards the Caulfield Cup."
Following the announcement of the shuttling of Free Eagle (by High Chaparral) to Australia in association with the Irish National Stud, as well as that of recent addition of Valentia (by Fastnet Rock), Cornerstone Stud has formally announced their stud fees for the upcoming season. Cornerstone Stud Managing Director Sam Hayes said, “With the news that Dalakhani will not be able to shuttle this year, as well as the passing of Hussonet, it is pleasing that we are able to replace quality with quality by adding Free Eagle and Valentia to our 2016 stallion roster.” Last year’s Royal Ascot hero, Free Eagle, winner of the Gr1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes when he beat the likes of The Grey Gatsby, Criterion and Gailo Chop, will begin his Southern Hemisphere career at a fee of $18,700 inc. GST. Upon retiring to stud as the highest rated older horse in Europe, trainer Dermot Weld described Free Eagle as, “a beautiful colt, with a lovely attitude. Great conformation and temperament. Everything a serious horse needs.” One of the few sons of Fastnet Rock to have won a Group race as a two-year-old, Valentia was a terrific winner of the Gr2 Skyline Stakes and will commence his stallion career at a fee of $11,000 inc. GST. Previous winners of the Skyline Stakes include Snitzel, Choisir and Hinchinbrook. An outstandingly powerful looking individual, Valentia was a Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale topper when fetching $1.35 million as a yearling in 2013. Upon his retirement, trainer Gai Waterhouse remarked, “Valentia is arguably the best looking colt ever seen at Tulloch Lodge.” Shuttling to Cornerstone Stud again in 2016 from Tally-Ho Stud is the 2014 European Champion First-Season Sire and 2015 European Champion Second-Season Sire, Zebedee (by Invincible Spirit). He will stand at a fee of $16,500 inc. GST. “Zebedee is proven as a phenomenal source of speedy early two-year-old types, he has had over 60 two-year-old winners in his first two crops. In addition, during the past ten days he has sired a four-year-old Group Three winner and a three-year-old Listed winner in Europe. We know now that the Zebedee’s train on too,” said Sam Hayes. The last remaining Group One winning son of Nureyev at stud in Australia, proven Gr1 sire Good Journey will stand at a fee of $11,000 inc. GST for the 2016 breeding season. From an International blueblood family of Best In Show, Good Journey sired his third Gr1 winner when Griante ran out victorious in the Galaxy Stakes over 1100m. Rounding out the roster at a fee of $5,500 inc. GST is the stunning looking Ambidexter (by Commands).
Free Eagle - $18,700 inc. GST
Zebedee - $16,500 inc. GST
Valentia - $11,000 inc. GST
Good Journey - $11,000 inc. GST
Ambidexter - $5,500 inc. GST
After compiling an unbroken sequence of 9 consecutive group race wins, including 5 at Gr1 level, champion Street Cry race mare Winx has become the bane of bookmakers' existence. The extent to which that is the case is evident from the early Gr1 Cox Plate market, where Winx is the only potential runner under double figure odds. With Winx a $3.30 quote to repeat last October's Moonee Valley drubbing, it's a case of $13 or better the field, bar one. Given that Winx has only ever jumped at a longer price than $3.30 twice in her last 9 starts – $4 in the The Marks & $5 in the Cox Plate – those pre-post odds appear quite generous, more so given that the Cox Plate is run at weight-for-age and she can't be asked to carry any more weight than she already will. Of the host of potential other runners for the 2040m feature in the early market at big odds, France's Gailo Chop appeals as the best each way chance at $26. The Antoine de Watrigant-trained gelding used last year's Cox Plate as a springboard to win Flemington's Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes, notably also at weight-for-age, a week later.
Cornerstone Stud, with the aid of agent Johnny McKeever, has reached an agreement with the Irish National Stud to stand Gr1 Royal Ascot winner Free Eagle (High Chaparral-Polished Gem, by Dunhill) in Australia from 2016. The highly rated entire (128) is best remembered by Australians that viewed last year's Royal Ascot meeting for his stunning victory in the Gr1 Prince of Wales's Stakes (2000m) which saw him beat a quality field that included Criterion, The Grey Gatsby and Gailo Chop. The Prince of Wales's Stakes is the premier 2000m race across the Royal Ascot Carnival and has been won in the past by such champions as Dubai Millennium, Ouija Board and So You Think, another promising young sire son of High Chaparral. "As a son of High Chaparral, widely considered to be one of the most successful European stallions to have shuttled to New Zealand and Australia for some years, we are tremendously excited to be announcing the addition of Free Eagle to our stallion roster," remarked Cornerstone Stud Managing Director Sam Hayes. "Types are what sell at the yearling sales and physically Free Eagle has that "wow" factor. We believe in the sire line and the way in which he accelerated away from world class horses at Leopardstown and Royal Ascot makes him something special." Of all High Chaparral's Gr1 winners, Free Eagle is one of only three to be stakes-performed as a two-year-old, three-year-old and four-year-old. Jockey Pat Smullen commented of Free Eagle after his 7-length romp in the Gr3 Kilternan Stakes as a 3YO: "I genuinely think that Free Eagle is the best horse I have ever ridden." As a 3YO in 2014, Timeform rated Free Eagle higher than the likes of Adelaide, Toronado, Dissident and Admire Rakti. Upon retiring as a 4YO, Free Eagle was Timeform rated 128, above Criterion, Winx, Exosphere, Mongolian Khan and Brazen Beau. Free Eagle will stand at a fee of $18,700 inc GST in his first year at Cornerstone Stud.
At the International Races at Sha Tin in Hong Kong on Sunday, 4YO Japanese-bred entire A Shin Hikari (Deep Impact-Catalina, by Storm Cat) landed the biggest prize of his career when scoring by 1-length for trainer Masanori Sakaguchi courtesy of a brilliant front-running ride by legendary jockey Yutaka Take in the HK$25 million Gr1 Hong Kong Cup (10 furlongs) for 3YO+, over 4YO Japanese mare Nuovo Record (Heart's Cry-Omega Spirit, by Spinning World) & 6YO UK-bred gelding Blazing Speed (Dylan Thomas-Leukippids, by Sadler's Wells). A Shin Hikari boosted his already outstanding record to 9 wins (including the Gr2 Tokyo Mainichi Okan) from 11 starts for ¥197,315,000 earnings. Top-class New Zealand mare Lucia Valentina (Savabeel-Staryn Glenn, by Montjeu) ran a cracking race with a strong-finishing fifth, while Criterion never looked a winning chance after missing the start and finished ninth. The OTI Racing-owned Gailo Chop disappointed and finished at the tail of the field. "She ran enormous," Lucia Valentina's jockey Damien Oliver said. "I reckon she'd have won eight out of 10 Group 1 races in Australia on that performance."
How Rising Romance performs in Saturday's Gr2 Zipping Classic (2400m) at Sandown will largely determine if she makes the trip to Hong Kong for the big international meeting in December, reports horseracing.com.au. The 5YO mare, who is coming off a narrow second behind Gailo Chop in the Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes, holds an entry in the Gr1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on 13 December but first she must prove herself a worthy contender on Saturday. "She has drawn the outside barrier at Sandown (8 of 8), but our theory is if she runs well, we will take up the invite to go to Hong Kong," co-trainer David Hayes said. "But if she doesn't run a really good race, we will miss Hong Kong and instead set her for the autumn." He added: "She ran so well on the back-up from the Caulfield Cup to the Mackinnon and she'll have a month break to the big race over there."
At Flemington in Melbourne, 5YO French-bred gelding Gailo Chop (Deportivo-Grenoble, by Marignan) claimed the first top-flight victory of his career when scoring by 0.5-length for trainer Antoine de Watrigant in the $1 million Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) for 3YO+, over 5YO mare Rising Romance (Ekraar-Post Romance, by Postponed) & 5YO entire Contributer (High Chaparral-Serisia, by Exit to Nowhere). The OTI Racing-owned Gailo Chop took his record to 8 wins (including the Gr3 La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte) and 3 placings (Gr1 Prix d'Ispahan) from 14 starts for $1,487,521 earnings. Gailo Chop's victory represented a special milestone in the career of little known French trainer Antoine de Watrigant who celebrated his first win at the elite level. "I am really happy, it's my first Group 1," de Watrigant told Racing.com. "I'm very happy to win in Australia for OTI." Meanwhile, OTI director Terry Henderson said Gailo Chop would likely head to Hong Kong for the international meeting at Sha Tin in December. "He's going back (to Europe), he'll probably go to Hong Kong if he pulls up well," Henderson said. "You saw today he has the staying ability, he's still only a four-year-old so he could be back next year."
Hong Kong champion Able Friend headlines an impressive list of global stars invited to contest this year's $3 million Gr1 Cox Plate. The Australian-bred multiple Gr1 winner is one of 12 horses from five countries whose connections have been sent an invitation to compete in Australia's weight-for-age championship at Moonee Valley on Saturday, 25 October. "The Moonee Valley Racing Club is committed to inviting the weight-for-age champions of the world to contest the William Hill Cox Plate each year," said Moonee Valley Racing Club Chairman Bob Scarborough. "We were thrilled for the connections of Adelaide to win last year's renewal of the great race and I am hopeful that the connections of the best weight-for-age horses in the world will accept our invitation to travel to Melbourne to contest the Weight-For-Age Championship of Australasia – the William Hill Cox Plate". The first round of international invitees are:
Online bookmaker sportsbet.com.au has put up prices for the 12 international runners invited to run in this year's Cox Plate by the Moonee Valley Racing Club. The world's top two rated horses in Able Friend ($4.50) and Solow ($7.00) head betting for the Weight For Age Classic. The Richard Hannon-trained pair of Night Of Thunder ($21) and Toormore ($17) along with the top two in betting have all accepted to run in the Gr1 Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot next Tuesday night over 1600m. "Able Friend is an out and out champion and Australian racing fans could be in for a treat this spring. The Greys are also set to make an impact with Solow and The Grey Gatsby both world class performers," said sportsbet.com.au's Christian Jantzen. Market courtesy of sportsbet.com.au:
At Longchamp in France, deceased multiple Gr1-winning former Darley shuttler & Dubai World Cup winner Singspiel (In The Wings-Glorious Song, by Halo) celebrated a Gr1 success when 5YO UK-bred entire Solow (Singspiel-High Maintenance, by Highest Honor) scored an easy 1.25-length victory for trainer Freddy Head in the Gr1 Prix d'lspahan (8.5 furlongs), over 5YO gelding Gailo Chop (Deportivo-Grenoble, by Marignan) & 5YO mare Sparkling Beam (Nayef-Pearl Dance, by Nureyev). This was the second Gr1 victory for Solow who took his record to 9 wins (including the Gr1 Dubai Turf Stakes) and 3 placings from 14 starts. Trainer Freddy Head confirmed that Solow's next target is the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot where a mouth watering clash with Hong Kong superstar Able Friend and Richard Hannon's Night Of Thunder awaits. "He's a very good horse," Head told Racing Post. "He has such a long stride and he has the ability to maintain a gallop at 1,600 metres pace and then to accelerate. In principle he will go to Ascot for the Queen Anne Stakes." French star Cirrus Des Aigles was eased down by jockey Christophe Soumillon after the horse lost a shoe. "He broke his off fore shoe clean in two. I don't normally like to make excuses but I think that's pretty clear," said trainer Corine Barande-Barbe.