She’s an eight time Group 1 winner with 20 wins from 28 starts and has amassed more than $4 million in prize money, but More Joyous is possibly the most overrated horse in the nation.
While it’s impressive that a horse has won the amount of Group 1’s that More Joyous has, a closer look at the races she has won brings into question whether she will be remembered as a champion 20 years from now.
Based at Gai Waterhouse’s Randwick stables, the six year old mare has been a goldmine for owner John Singleton.
With the Sydney autumn carnival in full swing next week, it’s that time of the year when we start hearing about More Joyous as the drawcard for major race days.
Six of her eight Group 1’s have come during the autumn but she fails to tick the box of champions because her autumn success has never been matched in the spring.
The strength of the Melbourne spring carnival versus the Sydney autumn carnival has been debated many times and, ignoring the reasons behind it, consensus suggests the Melbourne carnival is superior in terms of quality.
For a horse to become a legend of their era, they need to meet certain criteria beyond the amount of Group 1’s they claim. Factors such as tracks, distances, quality of opposition and conditions must all be weighed up before a horse is considered a legend.
Is winning in autumn enough?
Only one of her Group 1 victories has come from the Melbourne spring and that was the 2010 Toorak Handicap. She carried 58kg to victory against an average field consisting of just two other Group 1 winners, Response and Allez Wonder.
The issue with her other runs in Melbourne is the fact she has not even finished close to the eventual winners. In her two tilts at the Cox Plate, she finished fifth in 2011 and 11th in 2012.
In 2011, she chased Group 1 success in the Manikato Stakes but was beaten comfortably by Sepoy. She then went to the Myer Classic as the firm favourite but finished seventh.
Based on her lack of success in Melbourne, it has become evident that More Joyous is a much better horse running clockwise. Targeting and continually winning races during the Sydney autumn carnival put up great numbers but it doesn’t make up for her lack of Melbourne success.
Although she won the Futurity Stakes in 2011, her opposition in the race was nothing to boast about beyond Whobegotyou who finished second by a length. The race was also run over 1400m, an awkward distance for a Group 1.
It was not until last year when her victory in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes saved face slightly. It was the first of her Group 1 victories where she beat a quality field under weight-for-age condition against the boys.
More Joyous is a good mare but many of her victories have been soft. Her preparations have targeted races mostly against her own gender. Of her 20 wins, only eight came against the boys.
In the back end of her racing career, the six year old will run out the current season before Waterhouse and Singleton contemplate retirement. With unfinished business in Melbourne and injuries aside, it is likely More Joyous will be given one final shot at Melbourne spring carnival success.
Having dominated soft races and chalking up easy wins for so long, her eight Group 1 wins do not accurately reflect her ability. She may go on to win the Ranvet Stakes and go back-to-back in the Queen Elizabeth, but down the years she won’t be remembered as a genuine champion without winning a Caulfield Stakes, Cox Plate or Mackinnon Stakes.
Earlier in the week, weights for the Doncaster Mile were released. More Joyous has been allocated the top weight, a whopping 59.5kg.
As the Sydney autumn carnival inches closer, we’re going to be hearing a lot about this mare who has stands tallest when no one is around.