FLOATING ARTIST TURNS BACK THE CLOCK
How far can Floating Artist go this spring?
While it may not be completely accurate to say that Floating Artist “burst” onto the scene in 2021 as a promising stayer, he did make an impression. A Northern Hemisphere foal, born in February 2016, he transferred from the UK to the Ciaron Maher & David Eustance operation as a five-year-old in 2021.
Once his Australian debut was out of the way that year, he peeled off three wins in a row over 1600-1800m in August and September, against decent city-class opposition. His three subsequent runs to round out his 2021 spring were full of merit, and speak to a horse that can aim high this season.
Firstly, he jumped as $1.55 favourite in the Coongy to try a last-ditch attempt to get into the Caulfield Cup as a lightweight chance, before going down narrowly to Duais. That mare went on to win twice at Group 1 WFA level in the 2021/22 season.
Next was another narrow loss by the barest margin, to Graeme Begg’s mare Lunar Flare in the Moonee Valley Cup. A high quality stayer on her day, she was last seen winning the Andrew Ramsden at Flemington by almost six lengths over White Marlin.
Floating Artist’s last run that year, before injury sidelined him for the best part of 18 months, was a good fourth in the Melbourne Cup. The only horses to finish ahead of him that day were 11 time Group 1 winner Verry Elleegant, Caulfield Cup winner Incentivize, who had taken all before him that campaign and we were robbed of seeing more of, and high class international stayer Spanish Mission.
All of those runs, albeit no wins from them, were against serious horses.
Floating Artist made his way back from a serious knee injury with runs at Bendigo and Hawkesbury earlier this year, ahead of a planned Brisbane campaign that was aborted. But after putting the writing on the wall at Flemington a month ago, he won in fine style at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Maher and Eustance are as good as Australia has at preparing any horse, but they are particularly adept at getting a stayer to improve through a preparation. Looking at Floating Artist through and past the line, along with jockey Thomas Stockdale’s comments afterwards about how there was no pulling him up, we can expect him to be a player in the Cups this spring, and can no doubt make his presence felt in the second tier staying events too.
NEW CROP OF FOUR-YEAR-OLD’S SHOW THEY CAN BE RECKONED WITH
It’s important each racing season that we see fresh blood coming through, and the more untapped the better. While it’s great to get a Winx or Black Caviar come through occasionally, the rising tide lifts all boats, so the more horses we have making the grade, the more exciting the overall racing becomes.
Three such horses saluted the judge on Saturday, two at Rosehill and one at Morphettville.
See You In Heaven was expected to win the Behemoth Stakes in Adelaide with something in hand, and duly did so. She’s been a Group class horse literally from debut, and in fact has never raced at less than black type level.
Still, it’s good to see a four-year-old mare return against hardened opposition like Savatoxl and get the job done, and we should see her target races like the Rupert Clarke Stakes and Toorak Handicap at Caulfield over the spring.
Pericles was another four-year-old that was returning on Saturday, and heavily favoured to win Race 9 at Rosehill. He held off the late-charging Madame Pommery, last season’s Thousand Guineas winner who herself was returning from a spell. Connections of both horses will be pleased.
Pericles was taken down a staying path as a three-year-old, contesting both the VRC and ATC Derbies, without showing he had the constitution to get those sort of trips. His best performances have been at 1800-2000m, including a win in the Autumn Classic and a nose second in the Rosehill Guineas, and that’s where we should see him focused.
Madame Pommery may, like See You In Heaven, target the Rupert Clarke and Toorak, and there are plenty of mile races for mares throughout the spring carnival, including the Myer Classic in Cup week.
The feature in Sydney on Saturday was the Rosebud, and Tiz Invincible justified favouritism with a courageous win in a dogfight down the straight. She got the better of a few handy types in Introducing, The Instructor and Cigar Flick, and time will tell how the form from this race stands up.
The first three home, in particularly, are all very lightly raced, so it augurs well for their respective futures if they can keep improving. The Maher/Eustace camp have a high opinion of Tiz Invincible too, which provides a pointer that this will be a race worth following.