The Sydney autumn carnival, at least from a Group 1 perspective, has come to close.
As always, we were treated to thrilling racing, and until the carnival hit Randwick for The Championships it was relatively rain free. In terms of looking forward to the spring, we shouldn’t have to decipher too much wet track form to work out who we can follow going forward.
There were 22 Group 1s run in Sydney between February to April. Three horses won two apiece – Dubai Honour, Anamoe, and Militarize.
While Anamoe is our weight-for-age champion, having forged an impressive career across a range of distances, tracks and conditions through the ages of two, three and four, he ultimately met his match in Dubai Honour when it came to his Australian swansong in the Queen Elizabeth.
Dubai Honour was a raider under the care of William Haggas, who had targeted Sydney’s riches on two previous tours with Addeybb. Whether Dubai Honour will come back to conquer our best middle distances horses again in 12 months time remains to be seen, but you can bet he’ll be short odds if he does.
Anamoe will retire a champion of our time, regardless of if he campaigns overseas or how he performs. He won nine Group 1 races in Australia, as well as placing a further six times at the highest level. And he tackled the best races available all the way through his career – the Blue Diamond, Golden Slipper and Sires Produce at two, the Golden Rose, Caulfield Guineas, Cox Plate, Randwick and Rosehill Guineas, and the Queen Elizabeth at three, and of course a host of our best WFA races at four including the Cox Plate and Queen Elizabeth again.
The fact is, Australia’s best middle distance gallopers are often not up to handing strong international formlines. We are an industry built on speed.
The Everest is the pinnacle of sprinting in this country, but the TJ Smith isn’t far behind. And the first informed the second this season, with I Wish I Win producing arguably the win of the year in the TJ.
I Wish I Win, winner of the Golden Eagle over 1500m in the spring, was set on a pure sprinting path this campaign, tackling the Lightning Stakes and Newmarket Handicap on his way to the TJ Smith. He produced an electric turn of foot to overrun Everest winner Giga Kick, with a previous Everest winner in Nature Strip three lengths behind.
I Wish I Win can be followed in any race he contests going forward, particularly when he gets to 1200-1400m. The same can be said for Giga Kick given his All Aged Stakes win, which further franked his own victory in the Everest, and the TJ Smith form. These are the two best sprinters in Australia, and they handle all track conditions.
Of course, there is one particular Perth filly that may well have something to say about things in the spring…
Militarize ends the season as the gun two-year-old, having taken out the Sires Produce and Champagne Stakes in dominant style. Bred to appreciate 1600m-2000m, it is hoped that Chris Waller will set him on a Cox Plate prep after no doubt targeting the Golden Rose and Caulfield Guineas along the way.
Waller is a naturally conservative horseman, who didn’t press onto the Cox Plate after The Autumn Sun won the Caulfield Guineas by four and a half lengths in 2018, having already won the Golden Rose. Let’s hope he is prepared to take a shot at the stumps this time around.
Waller also has the Golden Slipper in his possession after Shinzo’s victory. We will see whether he will try to stretch the beautifully bred Snitzel colt out to the 1400m of the Golden Rose, or simply target the Coolmore Stud Stakes. The latter will obviously appeal to the Coolmore operation given they are part owners.
We always look to the classic three-year-old races to see if any Cox Plate or Cups contenders will emerge. The most likely is a Kiwi filly that didn’t contest any Guineas, Oaks or Derby races.
Prowess is her name, and she won the Vinery Stud Stakes by over three lengths in her first Australian start. She has now won five races in a row, all at black type level, after peeling off four successive victories before she left New Zealand.
It was the last of these, in the Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes, that suggests Prowess might have bigger things in store, given she had mares like Campionessa and La Crique in her wake. Campionessa was only beaten two lengths behind Cascadian in the Australia Cup, while La Crique started odds on in the Empire Rose on Derby Day last year, getting beaten only a length.
If Prowess can mature, improve and strengthen, as we are rightly entitled to expected when going from three to four, we might have a serious horse on our hands.