The Australian racing industry has been dealt another blow following the announcement that champion colt All Too Hard would be retired to the breeding barn to stand at Vinery Stud this September.
The retirement of the son of Casino Prince comes hot on the heels of big sister Black Caviar’s departure from the track less than a month ago, and with rival three-year-old Pierro and 2012 Cox Plate winner Ocean Park also bound for stud duties; one cannot help but bemoan the lack of equine talent set to face the starter’s orders this coming spring.
As the World Thoroughbred Rankings currently stand Australia boasts eight entrants including the world’s highest rating thoroughbred Black Caviar at 130 points.
However this Spring Carnival will play host to no more than three of our current entries. Following the loss of Black Caviar to motherhood, All Too Hard (122), Ocean Park (122) and Pierro (121) to stud-life and Mental (121) to overseas interest; Australian racing is left with only three-year-old It’s A Dundeel (120) and sprinter Moment of Change (119) as possible spring contenders, with Chris Waller’s import Reliable Man (122) struggling with a suspected tendon injury.
It’s an enormous loss to the Australian Thoroughbred racing industry as the respective owning syndicates choose to chase the big dollars on offer in the breeding world.
For All Too Hard and Pierro one can justify the move with the fact each has one their respective ‘stallion-making’ races in the Caulfield Guineas and Golden Slipper and stand to gain no further value through a career on the track.
Yet it is Australian Racing as a product which is at a loss. The 2012/13 crop of three-year-olds were taking all before them, with All Too Hard, Pierro and It’s a Dundeel all recording International ratings in excess of 120 points.
Not since the three-year-old crop of 1995 which featured Saintly, Octagonal, Filante, Nothin Leica Dane and Juggler has there been such hype around a group of young horses.
Though we are robbed of their racing potential; there shall be no lack of their progeny with breeders racing to secure an appointment with a member of the 2012 Cox Plate trifecta.
So as we dry our eyes and recompose ourselves; who can we see waiting in the wings for their turn in the spotlight?
It’s hard not to be impressed by the way It’s a Dundeel has come back from his three-year-old Spring Campaign. After showing much promise in his first preparation, the High Chapparal colt strung together consecutive victories in the Randwick and Rosehill Guineas before streeting a strong field in the G1 Australian Derby.
He found one better in his next start at open age in the 2000m Queen Elizabeth Stakes as UK-import Reliable Man returned to the form that won him the 2011 French Derby. However his impressive victory may have come at a cost.
Jockey Hugh Bowman was forced to dismount straight after crossing the line as his mount pulled up noticeably lame, appearing to injure his off-fore tendon before leaving the course in a horse ambulance for further inspection. His injury is reportedly not too bad, but there is legitimate concerns.
Staying pair Super Cool and Fiveandahalfstar have franked the form of the 2012 Victoria Derby by again running the quinella in the G1 Australian Cup during the Melbourne Festival of Racing.
While Super Cool was being saved for the spring, Fiveandahalfstar continued his dominance in Sydney where he became the first horse to complete the VRC Derby-BMW Stakes double.
Each will no doubt aim to make their presence felt in the spring’s staying features, however they will be facing stiff opposition from Darren Weir’s Puissance de Lune.
The striking grey was made the pre-post Melbourne Cup favourite on the back of his win in the Queen Elizabeth stakes on the final day of the Flemington Carnival, before a return to headquarters this March where he showed no loss of his extraordinary turn of foot in dead-heating in the Blamey Stakes.
Australia’s highest rated sprinter Moment of Change will enjoy a return to the track without the presence of Black Caviar, as will the speedy filly Snitzerland who is still chasing her maiden Group 1 win, despite breaking the Warwick Farm 1000m course record in her victory in the G2 Challenge Stakes.
The pair will not be without strong opposition from a strong contingent of sprinters including the Ascot bound Shamexpress and Sea Siren, along with Buffering, Epaulette and Bel Sprinter.
Overreach and Guelph also look like emerging as future three year old talents. As fillies, they will race on longer than similarly talented colts.
However the most forgotten horse due back this spring would have to be Atlantic Jewel. The winner of all of her seven starts to date, Atlantic Jewel stunned the racing world with her incredible acceleration in the 2011 Thousand Guineas and Wakeful Stakes before resuming in Sydney in impressive style, taking out the All Aged Stakes.
While a tendon injury has kept her away from the track for a year to date, a return is imminent in spring for Mark Kavanagh’s promising mare.
The carousel that is Australian Racing will continue to go round. For every soaring high that is Black Caviar, there will be an equal low, yet the industry shall endure.
While the loss of Black Caviar and co has been a heavy blow, the wings are lined with potential.
The stage has been cleared for racing’s newest star and come spring time it will be a captivating battle.
Daniel can be found on twitter : @danielmiles90