The best three year olds in the country will be battling it out in two states tomorrow, and while All Too Hard currently reigns supreme in that age group (and possibly above all except big sister), the racing landscape can alter quickly.
It was only a few race starts ago that Pierro was seen as peerless among his own, having strung together many of the easiest wins. Let’s not forget he started $1.22 in the Caulfield Guineas and half the quote of All Too Hard in the Cox Plate.
Tomorrow, for the first time since Australia’s premier weight for age race, they’ll once again both be on display.
At Flemington we have the group one Australian Guineas, a showcase event among a healthy support card. Sydney racing sees us at my favourite NSW track, Rosehill, for the Hobartville Stakes and Silver Slipper.
All Too Hard no longer needs any introduction. His breathtaking win in last week’s Futurity Stakes may well have been his best yet, and it’s hard to see how any fellow three year old could counter what his exciting talents have to offer.
Barely any of his competitors on Saturday have run in group one company, let alone placed in those events. None can topple this three time group one winner and Cox Plate runner-up.
If you’re desperate to find a way for the glamour colt to get beaten, you could point to the fact that he has never backed up on a seven day break, doing so for the first time this week.
Nor has he ever drawn a double figure barrier, with only four of his eleven starts containing fields of ten or more.
Of course, he won the Orr Stakes with something in hand after drawing nine of nine, so I really am playing the most devilish of advocates here!
So who can fill the placings?
From the astute Mick Kent yard, Philippi looks a nice horse in the making and will relish stepping up to the mile from a good draw.
Bass Strait will be strong to the line under the guidance of Chad Schofield for David Hayes. Hvassten is better than his unlucky last run suggests, and can bounce back to his best form here.
Selections: 1. All Too Hard; 2. Daylight; 3. Philippi; 4. Bass Strait
This race brings all but the very best spring three-year-old form to the Sydney Autumn, with the eleven runners already boasting 39 wins between them from only a combined 89 starts.
Most eyes will be on the superstar Pierro, who can still wear that particular mantle quite comfortably despite tasting defeat for the first time in his previous two starts.
And while he may not be the brightest burning supernova of his age group anymore, who among us wouldn’t love to own a horse where running second in a Caulfield Guineas and third in a Cox Plate was seen as underwhelming!
The markets suggest that the unbeaten Rebel Dane is Pierro’s main danger, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the enemy come from within…his own stable that is, in the form of Proisir.
It’s worth remembering that the last time Proisir competed over this distance, he gave Norzita a galloping lesson, and that filly has since won the Flight Stakes and blitzed her rivals upon resumption in a smart race at Moonee Valley last Friday night. Expect a forward showing after an impressive trial a fortnight ago.
It’s a Dundeel is an exciting type himself, and shouldn’t be forgotten if he can recapture his spring best. He should be the eye-catcher of the closers, setting himself up for a race of the highest quality further down the track.
Selections: 1. Pierro; 2. Proisir; 3. Rebel Dane; 4. It’s a Dundeel
So it’s five weeks until the Golden Slipper, and Sydney never fails to get excited in the countdown to the world’s richest race for juveniles.
The markets have the Gai Waterhouse trained filly, Overreach, as the one to beat after her demolition job in the Widden, while many good judges still think Villa Verde is the best of the two-year-old crop.
Neither of these will be seen at Rosehill tomorrow, but there is form behind them that can’t be ignored when looking for the winner of this race.
Kuroshio ran third behind the two gun fillies back in October, not beaten far, and he’s come back in fine fettle himself, winning the Blue Diamond Prelude last start.
Dissident came out of that race to be far from disgraced in the Blue Diamond, and should have finished much closer than he did after he had no luck in transit.
With that form behind him, and being one of few in the field at or near full fitness with more than one run this prep, from the dream barrier of one, at $8 Kuroshio must be the each-way bet of the day.
Never Can Tell seems to be an underrated horse, which can often happen to those in the Anthony Cummings stable, but he’s got the quality to measure up here. Charlie Boy also has a decent spruik about him under the care of the master Gerald Ryan.
At least one of them is going to taste defeat for the first time, but perhaps one will stamp themselves as a colt to be taken seriously come the first Saturday in April.
Best roughie might be the Queensland visitor Whiskey Allround, who didn’t account for much in his three start winning streak last spring, but winning is its own skill, and shouldn’t be discounted.
Many a raider has walked away with the chocolates (or bag of wheat) despite being underestimated by home track punters.
Selections: 1. Kuroshio; 2. Never Can Tell; 3. Charlie Boy; 4. Whiskey Allround
Horse racing is often about the future more so than the here-and-now, and with an abundance of Autumn riches awaiting so many runners tomorrow, all eyes will be keenly peeled to glean whatever information we can.
If we can predict which horses Justin Cinque will be writing about on Monday, we might just line our pockets on the weekend, and in the future.