Gai uncovers another star as more Cup hopefuls emerge
It's a Dundeel wins ahead of Honorius, Lunar Rise and King of Olympia in race 1 at Royal Randwick racecourse in Sydney on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
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Saturday’s early spring meeting may have created more questions than answers, but racing fans can get excited about a couple of unbeaten three year olds with incredible promise.
On Wednesday at Newcastle, a horse called Proisir stepped out at the prohibitive odds of $1.3 in the Spring Stakes (Group Three, three-year olds, 1600m) and couldn’t have been more impressive in victory.
The son of Choisir enjoyed a quiet lead before racing away from his rivals in the straight to win his third start by a widening margin of six lengths.
Proisir, who is trained at Randwick’s Tulloch Lodge stables by Gai Waterhouse, beat a relatively moderate field that included the Stakes-performed Trophies (second place), Proverb (third) and Limes (fourth).
Proisir was completely dominant – he was clearly the strongest horse at the finish and if the race was another 200m in length, he would’ve proceeded to win by a margin of Frankel-esque proportions.
Because the tempo was slow early, Proisir’s lethal turn of foot was on show for all to see. But unlike Nechita – who was the last three year old to draw my wild praise – this colt is not a one-trick pony.
Proisir’s performance in the Spring was in contrast to his previous victory at Rosehill three weeks ago. On that occasion, Proisir set an incredibly hot tempo that dismantled his rivals to the extent the 10-placed horse, Longport, was beaten by over 26 lengths (63m).
On Saturday at Randwick, Longport won the Tea Rose Stakes (Group Two, three-year old fillies, 1500m) on protest from Norzita (who was second to Proisir at Rosehill).
For a race at a provincial track, the Spring Stakes (incepted in 1984) has an incredible honour roll. It includes Group One winners Ilovethiscity, Sousa, Hotel Grand, Lotteria, Clangalang, Universal Prince, Shogun Lodge, Dracula, Encounter, Ebony Grosve and Coronation Day.
Without wanting to tempt fate, it is just a matter of time before Proisor joins that list. Waterhouse will prepare the brown colt for the Spring Champion Stakes on October 6 (2000m, Group One, three-year olds) at Randwick before a possible tilt at the Cox Plate.
But if I owned Proisir, I would be demanding Waterhouse send him to Melbourne to prepare for a date with stablemate Pierro (also undefeated) in the Caulfield Guineas (1600m, Group One) on October 13.
Proisir might not beat Triple Crown-winner Pierro but he deserves his chance in Australia’s greatest stallion-making race. Unfortunately, he isn’t going get it.
Being a Choisir (multiple Group One winner between 1000-1200m) colt out of Encosta de Lago mare Prophet Jewel (winner from 1100-1300m), Proisir isn’t bred to run 2000m, and that makes his next assignment mouth-watering.
In the Spring Champion, Proisir will meet undefeated colt It’s A Dundeel.
The New Zealander has an exciting racing style – he settles at the back of the field before unwinding a big sprint in the final stretch.
On Saturday, It’s A Dundeel won his fourth start, the Gloaming Stakes (Group Two, 1800m, three-year olds) at Randwick, in incredible fashion. He settled last on a hot tempo and for much of the race looked completely outpaced.
When he entered the straight he had so many lengths to make up that it appeared – until the last 100m of the race – he wasn’t going to win. But in the final furlong the Murray Baker-trained colt became airborne – flying late to take his first Stakes victory by over a length.
On a day where so few horses did anything from behind, his win was awesome. And there was also plenty of merit in the run of the second horse, Honorius, who should be followed for races like November’s VRC Derby (2500m, Group One).
I happened to be at Canterbury for It’s A Dundeel’s previous start and he paraded almost lethargically on that occasion.
In hindsight, it appears the Kiwi galloper hadn’t recovered from his mammoth first-up victory in Australia a few weeks earlier.
Because at Randwick, It’s A Dundeel was a completely different horse. He strutted around the mounting yard with purpose; the colt’s strapper had a torrid time controlling him. And his performance was much better.
At Canterbury, It’s A Dundeel struggled to a nose victory against average older gallopers. But on Saturday he was fantastic. It was easily the most impressive victory in the Gloaming since So You Think in 2009.
And after the race, I’m sure I saw It’s A Dundeel pose for the cameras. Like So You Think, he has a bit of star factor.
While I’m certain It’s A Dundeel is going to make a very good racehorse, I’m unsure when he will fulfil his potential. With Zabeel blood on his mother’s side, It’s A Dundeel will benefit from extra ground.
His father, High Chaparral, is also a notable sire of stayers. His greatest product is So You Think. But in my opinion, High Chaparral’s greatest achievement at stud is the trifecta he sired in the 2010 AJC Australian Derby, which included the victor Shoot Out, who won again at Group One level (George Main, 1600m) on Saturday.
It’s A Dundeel might not be out of place on a Melbourne Cup campaign in 2013. In any case, his clash with Proisir in a fortnight will be something to behold.
Some of this season’s Cup hopefuls were on show at Caulfield in the Underwood Stakes (Group One, 1800m) on Saturday. Ocean Park franked his exciting win in the Makfi (Group One, 1400m) in New Zealand three weeks ago with another brilliant showing.
The four-year old son of Thorn Park showcased some of his sire’s sharp turn of foot to win from Peter Moody’s Italian import Voila Ici.
Ocean Park will be aimed at the Cox Plate but his improvement in the six months since the autumn has been scary. If he continues to get better he could be, in the words of jockey Glen Boss, “anything”.
Voila Ici travelled to Australia with Black Caviar in July. And if the rumours of a bit romance on the plane home are true (apparently Cav fancies the ghostly grey), it hasn’t done the seven-year old stallion any harm.
Voila Ici put in a great first-up showing in the Memsie (Group Two, 1400m) to finish sixth and the rise in distance suited him perfectly. Racing from the front, jockey Vlad Duric was able to control the tempo of the race and Voila Ici responded to the helpful tactics.
Voila Ici is a winner from 2000-2800m. He’s going to be competitive in everything he contests this campaign but I fancy him most in the Caulfield Cup (Group One, 2400m).
Reigning Turnbull Stakes (Group One, 2000m) winner December Draw appears to be on song for his defence in two weeks after claiming third, while Southern Speed (fourth) finished better than anything else to be the first Aussie home.
I suspect Manighar (sixth) didn’t recover from his enormous first-up effort, while Sincero (fifth) should be kept to the mile from now on.
Back in the pack, Zabeelionaire (seventh) indicated he’s on track for the majors while American import Winchester (ninth) closed off well at the very end.
It will be interesting to see how we look back on the Underwood in a few months. I have a feeling the form will stand up but there are still plenty of questions waiting to be answered in the coming weeks.
As mentioned earlier Shoot Out claimed the George Main (1600m, Group One) in Sydney. Despite giving fitness away to his rivals, the first-up six-year old profited from a perfect Hugh Bowman ride to prevail by a neck from his evergreen stablemate Rangirangdoo.
Shoot Out will now head to the Epsom Handicap (1600m, Group One) where he will be hard to toss.
Rangi’s an eight-year old now but he tends to hold his form well. If I were Chris Waller I’d be contemplating a trip to Melbourne for the Cox Plate.
In his only visit to Moonee Valley in 2009, Rangirangdoo won the Group Two 1600m race on Cox Plate Day emphatically and in track-record time. With that in mind, another trip to the Valley mightn’t be the worst idea.
Secret Admirer (third) was disappointing but not as much as favourite All Too Hard (fourth). The half to Black Caviar had his fate sealed after bombing the start again. The race developed into a dawdle and All Too Hard was a passenger.
Patinack Farm desperately needs to get a Group One race into All Too Hard but it may not happen until he gets back onto his Melbourne leg (on which he is unbeaten). I suspect he’s crying out for a fast-run race also.
All Too Hard is proving to be an expensive headache for the Hawkes camp.
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