The current spring carnival and Amelia’s Jewel’s place in it, has been a talking point for the best part of 12 months, since she confirmed herself as Perth’s next star when winning the Group 1 Northerly Stakes at Ascot in December.
She was an unbeaten two-year-old in WA, winning in eye-catching style by big margins, which made the east coast sit up and take notice. She then won three of her four starts in the WA spring, her only loss when being asked to make ground from an impossible position.
Many were excited to see what she might do in the Melbourne or Sydney autumn, but connections chose to target the $4M Quokka, a brand new pop-up race that kept her inside her home border. It’s hard to ignore such lucrative riches, but many felt it wasn’t the wisest course for an 1800m Group 1 winner to aim at a sprint race.
Ultimately, Amelia’s Jewel could only run the most dazzling second after going back to last from a wide barrier, failing by mere centimetres to reel in the leader Overpass. And not many would complain about cashing a cheque for $600,000.
Still, how to assess this star filly, soon to be mare?
Her Group 1 win was with only 50kg’s on her back, beating a horse like Ironclad, while being a good, honest competitor, has only ever been a Listed winner in Melbourne and Adelaide. Steinem is a handy mare and was in third, carrying 7kg’s more.
That second in the Quokka was splitting horses like Overpass (who has beaten or been competitive with the likes of Anamoe, Giga Kick, Nature Strip, Private Eye) and Bella Nipotina (Group 1 winner and multiple times placed at the highest level).
The question was whether she should be set for the Everest and Golden Eagle up in Sydney, or the Cox Plate in Melbourne. Is she a sprinter, a miler, or a strong 2000m horse? Two runs into the spring and the question still remains.
She has accounted for two fields of handy but not outstanding mares, at 1400m and 1600m. The Let’s Elope win at Flemington was the more effortless of the two, while the Stocks Stakes win at Moonee Valley on Friday night set a new course record – you still have to run the time of course, but the faster and firmer a track is does help these things.
Amelia’s Jewel’s next run will be in the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield on October 14th, with the proviso from owner Peter Walsh “as long as we don’t get too much weight”. From there, a decision can be made as to the Cox Plate (2040m) two weeks later, or the Golden Eagle (1500m) a week after that.
Many would say that you’re only a four-year-old once, and therefore the Golden Eagle, worth $10M, should the logical aim this season. And she can then be tested at 2000m in the autumn, in races like the Australian Cup or the Queen Elizabeth up in Sydney, where we would also likely get a gauge on how she handles the wet.
But the Cox Plate is the pinnacle of Australian racing, when it comes to establishing the true champions of the turf in this country, and you never know what injury or misfortune might be around the corner in this great game.
The connections of superstar Atlantic Jewel opted out of running in the 2011 Cox Plate when a three-year-old filly, and she never got the chance at four or five due to injury.
Owners of horses are entitled to do what they like, of course, but it has been something of a shame that Amelia’s Jewel has taken the softer option through this spring, rather than tackle the likes of Mr Brightside and Alligator Blood in the weight-for-age races. But perhaps that element of mystery and intrigue is great for the sport, keeping us all guessing, whetting the appetite for when they eventually do.