More Joyous will not be remembered as a champion

Alfred Chan Columnist

By Alfred Chan, Alfred Chan is a Roar Expert

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    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.

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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • Columnist

      March 8th 2013 @ 7:09am
      Geoff Parkes said | March 8th 2013 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Agreed Alfred. Very good mare who has been placed well, can’t knock her for winning what she has, but no champion.

    • Columnist

      March 8th 2013 @ 8:52am
      Andrew Hawkins said | March 8th 2013 @ 8:52am | ! Report

      I think she’ll probably be remembered on the same level as Tie The Knot – a good Sydney horse. Also, she has that knack for not winning her grand final – she didn’t win the Golden Slipper, she’s failed twice in the Cox Plate, she failed at her first attempt at the Doncaster Mile – if she hadn’t won last year’s Doncaster Mile, she’d definitely be below par.

      Correct me if I’m mistaken but I have her first three Group 1 wins occurring in the spring – the Flight Stakes, the George Main Stakes and the Toorak Handicap.

      • Columnist

        March 8th 2013 @ 9:56am
        Justin Cinque said | March 8th 2013 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        I think that’s a great summation Andrew. A great miler but not a champion. And a Sydney superstar. She’s lost a lot of important races – very Lonhro-ish actually.

        • Columnist

          March 8th 2013 @ 10:36am
          Andrew Hawkins said | March 8th 2013 @ 10:36am | ! Report

          Actually, that’s the perfect comparison. Lonhro.

          • March 10th 2013 @ 8:17pm
            Moneybags said | March 10th 2013 @ 8:17pm | ! Report

            Umm, you guys seem to have ignored that fact that Lonhro won 2 Caulfield Stakes and a Mackinnon. He may not have won a Cox Plate but those WFA victories are much more impressive than the ONE Toorak Handicap More Joyous won in Melbourne during spring.

      • Columnist

        March 8th 2013 @ 11:02am
        Alfred Chan said | March 8th 2013 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        Hi Andrew,
        The Flight and George Main Stakes were both won in Sydney. She spelled after winning the Flight Stakes. There’s an odd trend of the Flight winner going to spell because most of the winners have been prepped for the Flight to be their grand final. Horses who run first or second up in the Flight are being primed for a Thousand Guineas – Wakeful – Oaks/Myer campaign. For me, targeting the Flight Stakes as a grand final is a soft way of saying, “Hey look! I won a Group 1”.

        The following year she did back up from winning the George Main to winning the Toorak Handicap which is still her only Group 1 in Melbourne. She did it with a big weight (58kg) but she then ran 5th in the Cox Plate in her next start. Why would Gai run her in the George Main (WFA) into the Toorak (Handicap) into the Cox Plate (WFA)? When the Underwood and the Toorak are on the same day, doesn’t it make logical sense for her to run in the Underood under WFA conditions if she’s being primed for a Cox Plate tilt?

        It’s the terrible decisions in the make up of her preparations which is going to cost a very talented horse a spot in history.

        • Columnist

          March 10th 2013 @ 11:33am
          Andrew Hawkins said | March 10th 2013 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          I agree there Alfred. A weight for age path for a weight for age performer makes sense. I still can’t fathom why they ran her in the Toorak last year, just ridiculous. The Caulfield Stakes would have made much more sense.

    • March 8th 2013 @ 12:12pm
      SpearTackle said | March 8th 2013 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

      If MJ can win the Doncaster with 59.5kg on her back – she will be remembered as a champion. That being said, she won’t win it unless there are a lot of drop outs. All Too Hard has 56kg, Luckygrey 54kg, Silent Acheiver and Moment of Change both have 52.5kg. All of the above should comfortably beat MJ unless she’s turned back the clock to her 4yo form.

    • March 8th 2013 @ 2:54pm
      Bondy said | March 8th 2013 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

      Your a tough marker Andrew is she Sunlineesque?. No. I tend to reflect on her being one of the only headline horses to carry the autumn carnival.

      It would be unique if she won another Donacatser at the age of 6.

    • March 9th 2013 @ 3:14am
      Tired and disgruntled sportswriter said | March 9th 2013 @ 3:14am | ! Report

      Fair enough, but I haven’t heard anyone sane call More Joyous a champion, although you’re right in saying her record reads like an all-time great – at first glance. But she doesn’t measure up to a mighty mare like Sunline. What is missing is the inability to show her best in Melbourne against all comers, and she has never travelled.

      Andrew, I don’t like the Lonhro comparison. Lonhro won 11 Group Ones, and before we go calling him a “Sydney champ” , consider the fact that five of those top level victories were in Melbourne. Much better and more accomplished horse than More Joyous. Line them up at weight for age, in their prime, at Randwick over a mile: who wins? I say Lonhro kicks her brains in. He wasn’t perfect, and was probably over-hyped in his own way, and was better on his home patch – but all horses are. In the end, there’s not many horses from the past 20 years who could have matched the big black machine over a mile.

    • March 9th 2013 @ 6:51am
      nan said | March 9th 2013 @ 6:51am | ! Report

      See we kicking good horses again

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