Off to the wild, windy and wet West at Rosehill this week for an unseasonal heavy track. Just another variable to consider, I’d be looking to favour horses on speed, particularly early in the program.
July is generally racing’s quietest month of the year in Australia. This year, it is one of only two months (January being the other) not to feature Group 1 racing.
The Brisbane carnival is over and spring is just around the corner, with a number of high profile gallopers beginning their campaigns towards spring glory at the trials.
On the metropolitan racetracks it’s usually pretty quiet. And when the feature races of the month are a plethora of jumps races in Melbourne, as well as the Grafton Cup and the Ramornie Handicap, both run at Grafton… well, you know it’s a quiet time of year.
That said, there’s always the opportunity for a diamond in the rough to emerge during the off-season.
Last year, winners in July in Sydney included Group 1 winners Your Song and Norzita, as well as the likes of Ajax Stakes winner Havana Rey, Scone Guineas winner Taxmeifyoucan, June Stakes winner She’s Clean and Royal Sovereign Stakes runner up Urquidez.
Melbourne Cup fourth Kelinni finished second twice.
The year before, winners in July included a Group 1 winner in Master of Design, as well as the likes of perennial Group 1 place getter Rain Affair, Newmarket Handicap place getter Aeronautical (who comfortably defeated a three time Group 1 winner in Appearance)
So as we prepare for a month of racing generally lambasted, remember that we may see a star or two emerge.
This Saturday, the highlight of the card at Rosehill appears to come in the first race, a two year old handicap over 1200m. (Race 1 is at 12:20pm)
If a star is to emerge from Sydney’s racetracks this July, expect it to be either the Gai Waterhouse-trained Bull Point, the Bart Cummings-prepared Eurozone, or both gallopers.
I firmly believe, no matter the result on Saturday, both will measure up to Group company and perhaps even be seen in races like the Golden Rose.
But who will win on Saturday?
Bull Point was breathtaking on debut at Randwick on the Queen’s Birthday, coming from near enough to last to finish over the top of his rivals in good time on a slow track.
By Fastnet Rock out of Rose of Cimmaron, he was the sale topper at last year’s Magic Millions sale, fetching $960,000.
Incidentally, I was trackside when Rose of Cimmaron had her first start in a Canterbury maiden. She finished seventh that day – our mare Stella Command ran third.
And Stella Command (long since sold by us) continues to race on, while Rose of Cimmaron is already pumping out winners.
But I digress!
In a small field on Saturday, he faces another challenge again, but given Waterhouse horses usually race on or near the speed, don’t be surprised to see him take up a different position.
As for Eurozone, the son of Northern Meteor already looks like he’ll appreciate further after a top win at Canterbury on debut.
Comparisons were drawn with So You Think, also an impressive winner on debut, but for mine they were quite different.
At his first start, So You Think raced wide in a race of little pace, yet he strolled away in an arrogant fashion.
Eurozone, however, was held up just behind the pace. When a run finally presented, he took the gap and stretched hard to just get there, showing handy acceleration in the final stages.
It doesn’t mean Eurozone was less impressive – they were just different styles of victory.
In the end, a win is a win.
The Roar’s Justin Cinque was trackside at Canterbury to see Eurozone’s debut and reported that the colt still had plenty of improvement in him.
Cummings usually leaves something in the tank, ensuring a horse is not bottomed out first up, so I’d anticipate the colt has come on from his debut performance.
These two colts have already met once on the track, with Eurozone recording a narrow trial victory over Bull Point at Randwick on May 27.
Trials mean nothing though, and under race conditions, the placings could very well be reversed.
As of Thursday night, Bull Point was a $1.75 favourite, with Eurozone an easing $3.10 second favourite.
I’m not sure there should be such a disparity, given Bull Point may be unsuited by the way the race is run. However, his debut win was electric and he’ll be suited even more by a step up in trip.
If I had to tip one or the other, I’d be tipping Eurozone just from Bull Point. However, I think the important tip is to watch this race very closely on Saturday – you might just be seeing two future Group 1 stars in the making.