What a Golden Rose it was on Saturday, made a special race by the barnstorming nature of Militarize’s win.
There were echoes of Chautauqua about the way Militarize ran over the top of them, only hitting the front in the last bound. He was one of the last horses you would have wanted to be on at the 300m, didn’t look to be going that well with a furlong to go with only two or three behind him, still didn’t look to be making ground at the 150m, and even at the 100m was looking like running a nice fourth and earning favouritism in the Caulfield Guineas.
But Militarize absolutely grew wings in that last 100m to drop on Encap and Cylinder before they even knew what was happening. After his wins in the Sires Produce and Champagne Stakes in the autumn, the Chris Waller trained colt is down unbeaten after three runs at 1400m-1600m, all at Group 1 level – those three wins at the highest level have come on good, soft and heavy tracks, emphasising his versatility.
By It’s A Dundeel out of a Dubawi mare, he looks a 2000m horse in the making too, which puts a Cox Plate firmly on his radar if he takes care of business in the Guineas. It’s hard to find a weakness once he steps beyond a pure sprint trip, especially against his own age at this point of his career. And to already have won Group 1s at both two and three, his future as a stallion is assured.
Joao Moreira has flown in for all three of those Group 1 wins on Militarize too, his only three rides on the horse. And there’s no doubt he gave the horse a gun ride too, happy to take a rails trail through the first three-quarters of the race, and hooked out onto the back of Cylinder as the right horse to take him into the race. The precocious colt did the rest from there.
Dylan Gibbons must have been gutted on Encap in second, knowing that he had Cylinder covered as they approached the shadows of the post, only to be bloused by the late-comer out wide. Did he flush Endcap out too early by popping out three wide from the 450m to round the turn? Could he have won if conserving his mount for another 50-75m? It’s something he’ll surely be replaying in his mind forever more.
Nash Rawiller has been in sensational form, but would like his time again on Cylinder too, caught three wide from barrier six and only going down 0.2 of a length. In a big time race where only a tick over three lengths covered 11 of the 12 runners, and there was only a length across the first five home, every decision or non-decision a jockey makes can be a difference between winning and losing.
Butch Cassidy was the surprise of the race, holding on for fourth at $41 for Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott. The Victorian filly Charm Stone was good, but just not as strong as others at 1400m. We can possibly expect both of these horses to be freshened and targeted toward the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
King Colorado and Shinzo were the slight disappointments of the race, in seventh and ninth respectively, albeit only beaten two and two and a half lengths. Neither horse looked like threatening on the day. King Colorado may be needing 1600m now, and perhaps will relish further. Shinzo pulled up partially lame, so it may not have been a good idea to put him in such a hot race first-up, and he still has to battle the Slipper curse.
Whatever happens from here, the Golden Rose form is always worth following. It’s rare that the race doesn’t supply several winners through the rest of the spring, and we can trust the horses to come out of it.