Pierro eyeing More Joyous after brilliant victory under lights
Now the footy season is over, much of the focus in Australian sport will shift towards the Spring Carnival. And, importantly, racing’s guns are firing.
Four weeks out from the Cox Plate, it seems certain Pierro will start favourite for the weight-for-age championship of Australasia.
The undefeated three-year old was brilliant on the way to a commanding five-length victory in the Group Two (1600m, three-year olds) Bill Stutt Stakes on Friday night.
Pierro had never competed under lights, raced in the left-handed direction or been to Moonee Valley before. But he could’ve fooled me because it was a perfect performance from a horse that will officially celebrate his third birthday this Friday.
Nash Rawiller positioned Pierro just behind the leader. Before the home turn, the son of Lonhro raced to the front before coming clear in the home straight. The most impressive part of the win was the manner in which Pierro attacked the line – his last 100 metres was very strong.
I wrote last week that the colt’s visit to Moonee Valley was simply an educational exercise but the only lesson learnt was that handed out by Pierro. In words of Rawiller, the colt handled the Valley circuit like “he’d been here a hundred times before”.
Pierro will now head to the Caulfield Guineas (1600m, Group One, three-year olds) on October 13 where will be sent around at justifiably unbackable odds.
The main danger to Pierro in the Guineas will be Golden Rose (1400m, Group One, three-year olds) winner Epaulette. On Sunday at Caulfield, Epaulette won the Guineas Prelude (1400m, Group Three, three-year olds) by a slender margin.
Flashy colt Let Go Lenni took second, while Awesome Bro put in a big performance to finish a close-up third. All three placegetters will tackle Pierro in the Group One but they will be playing for second place.
In a major dent to the Guineas Prelude form, Awesome Bro was beaten by Jimando by just under a length at his previous start. And on Friday night, Jimando was 7.5 lengths from Pierro.
Pierro was last challenged in the Golden Slipper when he had to call on every bit of his quality to defeat Snitzerland in March.
The form out of that race appears to have stood up. Snitzerland continued her unbeaten run since the Slipper when taking out the Champange Stakes (1200m, Group Three, three-year old fillies) on Friday night.
Snitzerland worked for the lead but after enjoying a couple of quiet furlongs in front, was able to pinch a break in the home straight to win comfortably.
The Gerard Ryan-trained filly will now push on towards the Group One Manikato Stakes (1200m, weight-for-age) on October 26 where she is likely to take on Buffering.
There is no horse more deserving of top-level success than Buffering, who won the Moir Stakes (1200m, Group Two, weight-for-age) at Moonee Valley.
Buffering missed the start and was forced to work for the lead. Like Snitzerland, he was able to enjoy a breather before shaking off his rivals at the top of the straight.
The Queenslander survived a late challenge from Ready To Rip -who only got clear late – to win narrowly. There was also plenty of merit in the run of third-placegetter Thankgodyou’rehere who sat wide for the entirety.
Tiger Tees, who pressed for favouritism in early markets, was disappointing in fourth. Having begun much better than Buffering, Tiger Tees enjoyed a much easier run on the speed but folded in the straight.
Buffering has placed in each of his last six runs at Group One level and will be looking to break his duck in the absence of Black Caviar and Hay List this spring.
Just as Snitzerland was the last horse to test Pierro, it seems stablemate More Joyous will be the next horse to ask serious questions of the colt.
More Joyous became only the seventh mare (joining Wakeful, Desert Gold, Tranquil Star, Wenona Girl, Sunline and Black Caviar) in the history of Australian racing to win 20 Stakes races after she claimed the Golden Pendant (1400m, Group Three, fillies and mares) on Saturday at Rosehill.
The six-year old was completely superior to her four rivals in a performance that hinted more ground would benefit her.
Waterhouse will send MJ down to Melbourne to contest the Group One Toorak Handicap (1600m) on Guineas Day where it is estimated that she will have to carry around 59kgs.
More Joyous won the Toorak in 2010, carrying 58, on the way to a disappointing fifth in So You Think’s second Cox Plate.
The mare is a more complete racehorse now and I expect her to win the Toorak once again.
And even though she’ll have to carry 7.5 kilos more than Pierro (57kgs to 49.5kgs) in the Cox Plate, she is a massive chance in the race.
More Joyous is career-best form, has now won at 2000m (Group One, 2012 Queen Elizabeth) and appears to be much tougher than ever before.
In any case, we will get another opportunity to assess MJ in the Toorak where she will meet newly-crowned Group One winner Moment Of Change.
Moment Of Change fulfilled his potential when taking out the Sir Rupert Clarke (1400m, handicap) on Sunday at Caulfield.
The Peter Moody-trained four-year old emulated the feats of his sire Barely A Moment who won the same race in 2005.
We’re Gonna Rock and Solzhenitsyn filled the minor placings but the most exciting performance from the beaten brigade came via reigning Mackinnon winner Glass Harmonium who ran on well for fourth.
Glass Harmonium will head to the Cox Plate after proving he has recovered well from a throat operation that attempted to cure the seven-year old from persistent breathing issues.
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