Injury to force premature end for ground-breaking So You Think
Jockey Steve Arnold rides the Bart Cummings trained horse So You Think. AAP Image/Joe Castro
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The career of dual-hemisphere champion So You Think is over, after the ten-time Group One winner was found to be lame in his stable last night.
So You Think was an even-money favourite to take out the Eclipse Stakes on Saturday; a race that had been earmarked as his swansong.
With his retirement set to be announced, the five-year son of High Chaparral could begin his stud career at Coolmore in the NSW Hunter Valley as early as next month.
It’s an unfortunate end to a brilliant career. It’s not a serious injury by any means but it denies So You Think the farewell race he so badly deserved.
Trained by Bart Cummings at Randwick, So You Think burst onto the scene before we knew anything about him.
He was a Group Three winner at his third outing and a Cox Plate champion two starts later.
Many people say Cummings’ performance to train the three-year old So You Think to Cox Plate glory at his fifth start is the greatest feat of his legendary career. And while that may be true, I think the quality of cattle had something to do with it.
You see, So You Think wasn’t your ordinary Group One performer.
No, he was a rock-star. With his European looks that included a wildly-long mane, thick neck and shiny black coat, he was always the standout in the parade ring. But he wasn’t just a show pony. So You Think had the ability to match his good looks.
With Steven Arnold in the saddle for much of his Australian career, So You Think found gears no other horse in Australasia could match on the way to posting five Group One victories in Australia.
So You Think would race near to the lead before dominating his rivals in the final three furlongs with a lethal combination of sustained speed and brilliant acceleration. It’s the perfect racing style.
His absence from the 2010 Sydney autumn – due to a breathing irregularity and subsequent throat surgery – was probably a blessing in disguise.
So You Think left Moonee Valley after the 2009 Cox Plate as an untapped colt with plenty of potential. He returned the following August as the most exciting middle-distance horse produced in Australia since Kingston Town some 30 years earlier.
And following in the hoof-prints of Kingston Town, So You Think won five consecutive races during the 2010 spring – four of them at Group One level – on the way to claiming his second Cox Plate.
What a performance it was in the 2010 Cox Plate. When eventual eight-time Group One winner More Joyous challenged the stallion at the 600, So You Think delivered a knock-out punch. His rivals were destroyed but none more so than the antagonist More Joyous who crumbled into a fifth-place finish.
So You Think won the Mackinnon on Derby Day with consummate ease. He was then installed as a short 5-2 favourite for the following Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup even though So You Think had no two-mile pedigree.
He had too much energy to be a stayer. In fact, so excitable was So You Think, Arnold would often attempt to calm the stallion by singing to him during races.
So You Think could only manage third place in the Melbourne Cup. But if he settled better in the run, he may well have held off the late challenge of Americain and Maluckyday. On another day, So You Think may’ve added a Melbourne Cup success to his resume.
At the end of the 2010 spring, owner Dato Tan Chin Nam sold a controlling share of So You Think to Coolmore Stud for a reported $25 million. As a result, the four-year old was sent to Ireland to be cared for by champion trainer Aiden O’Brien.
Throughout 2011 and 2012, So You Think had 11 starts for O’Brien, recording six wins; five of which were at Group One level.
So You Think’s Ballydoyle stint began with four victories in his first five races but the end of his first European season was marred by poor programming – which included the decision to travel the horse to America where he finished a creditable sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt – and some questionable in-race riding tactics.
Only after his six-length win at Group One level in the Tattersall’s Gold Cup in late May did O’Brien declare he had So You Think worked out. And then a fortnight ago, the champion trainer admitted he incorrectly trained the speed out of the stallion last season, working him too long, too hard, too much.
With that in mind, it’s such a shame So You Think’s career has come to an abrupt end. Given the opportunity, I believe he had some big victories beckoning in the back-end of 2012.
Two weeks ago, So You Think won his last race, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot. If it isn’t England’s premier 2000 metre race, then the Eclipse Stakes – a race won by So You Think last year – may well be.
There are not many horses that have performed on both sides of the equator. Having won some of the best races in Europe and Australia, So You Think will be remembered as a dual-hemisphere champion and therefore one of the all-time greats of horse racing.
His imposing presence on the track will be sorely missed.