Mystic Journey is going to be awfully hard to beat this preparation based on her first-up performance at Caulfield on Saturday, but I wouldn’t be rushing in to back her in any futures markets.
A bumper Saturday of racing may have thrown up the Cox Plate winner – and he wasn’t seen anywhere near a racetrack.
The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (1m 4f) at Ascot is considered to be England’s equivalent of the world’s greatest race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but with a lacklustre crop of three year olds and an older group of horses beset by retirements, the stage was set for a galloper to steal the limelight.
Enter Novellist, a German four year old by Monsun who has now won eight of his 10 starts after smashing the Ascot 1m 4f record by almost two seconds.
A winner of his first four starts by large margins in Germany, he started an odds on favourite in the German Derby but finished second to French Group 1 winner Pastorius.
He then finished a disappointing fourth to Arc and King George winner Danedream in the Grosser Preis von Baden, Germany’s most prestigious open class race. To date, it remains the only time he missed a place.
Novellist finished last season with a five length victory in the Gran Premio del Jockey Club Italio at San Siro in Milan, with 2011 Australian Derby runner-up Retrieve a distant second.
He made his seasonal return at Baden-Baden, where he flew down the outside rail to nose out 2011 German Derby winner Waldpark, a run which caught my eye enough that I tipped him as one of two horses I wanted to be on for the Melbourne Cup.
Unfortunately, his subsequent form means he will not come to Melbourne, instead aiming (quite rightly) at the Arc where he’ll provide Europe’s best chance of denying the Japanese once more.
However, the form may still be tested yet, with Waldpark now with Anthony Freedman for Australian Bloodstock.
Considering Novellist has convincingly beaten Dunaden, Cirrus des Aigles, Red Cadeaux, Joshua Tree and Trading Leather at his last two starts, the form looks very strong.
The concern may be that Waldpark has become something of a non-winner in Europe, an enigmatic galloper who can mix his form.
However, the Freedman brothers have a knack for getting the best out of quirky gallopers, and German gallopers typically hold their form in Australia.
As much as $41 was available when he was first entered into markets last month. He’s now approaching single figures, as money continues to flow.
Write the name down: Waldpark. He may just be the Cox Plate winner.