We may have been underestimating this crop of three-year-olds
One golden leaf may not an autumn make. Nor a first up win in either the Autumn or Expressway Stakes at Group Three level.
But, all of a sudden, it looks like the current crop of three-year-olds just might be one heck of a lot better than was generally thought at the close of the spring. Back then, the Group One three-year-old spoils had been split between eight individual horses, with only Ace High claiming multiple successes.
And I’m on board.
Kementari stole the show, last Saturday, with his resounding first up win in the Eskimo Prince Stakes but there was also considerable supporting evidence at Caulfield in Melbourne and indeed in Sydney and Melbourne the week before.
The wildcard among this crop is certainly the Autumn Stakes winner Holy Snow – a $260,000 buy at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale for Yulong Investments when offered by John Barnes and Joy Mackay’s Canning Downs Stud, Queensland.
The Mick Price–trained son of Fastnet Rock was, in my view, every bit as impressive in his fresh win as Kementari and beat a field of much greater depth. Yet I suspect most people will be disinclined to believe what they saw as Holy Snow’s spring campaign had been solid rather than spectacular.
However, Price has conceded that preparation did not go quite as planned and there is the not inconsiderable factor of natural improvement.
Interestingly, only four three-year-olds had won the Autumn Stakes first-up in the previous 30 years.
The most recent was Thunder Fantasy in 2014. He progressed straight to the Australian Guineas – as Price intends to do with Holy Snow – and rattled home to be beaten just over a length behind no less a duo than Shamus Award and Criterion.
Before that, the first-up Autumn Stakes winners were outstanding filly Special Harmony, in 2004, who did not contest the Guineas but went on to win four straight culminating with the Group One Arrowfield Stakes; Dignity Dancer, in 1999, who did win the Guineas and the outstanding Canny Lad who did not contest the Flemington race. So, the precedents aren’t bad.
“Holy Snow came through Saturday’s race well,” Price said. “He’s a tough horse and I doubt he needs another run, he can go second-up into the mile race at Flemington.”
All the peak three-year-old form looks to be holding up. Amongst Holy Snow’s spring credentials was his third in the Group Two Bill Stutt Stakes behind Showtime, who resumed with a second to another quality three-year-old in Trapeze Artist in the Expressway Stakes. The Derby winner Ace High and the promising Addictive Nature ran well there also.
The Stutt Stakes runner-up was Salsamor who, incidentally, resumes today at Sandown for Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young.
Kementari claimed the Caulfield Guineas from another Mick Price–trained three-year-old Mighty Boss who was galloped on when beaten just a length against all comers in the C F Orr Stakes last Saturday. The Guineas third Catchy, who was a dominant juvenile, may resume this weekend while you could argue the Guineas form was franked as early as when fourth placed Royal Symphony then finished fourth in the Cox Plate.
The Victoria Derby placegetters behind Ace High were Sully, who may also resume this Saturday, and Astoria who did resume with an excellent effort behind Holy Snow last Saturday.
Cliff’s Edge had earlier enhanced this crop’s form with his first up win at Group Three level and it might take a further fillip this weekend courtesy of Aloisia.
They are a very good bunch.
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