You’ve got to hand it to Sydney when it comes to establishing new races, writes Steve
The 2017 edition of The Golden Rose Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) at Rosehill is run today and it has very quickly become one of Australia’s great races. It was reconfigured from the Group Two Peter Pan Stakes back in 2003.
It was the brainchild of the now defunct Sydney Turf Club (STC) which, of course, also introduced the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) in 1957. The club was always innovative as Max Presnell wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2013: “The STC led the way with forward thinking, dating to 1945-46 when it introduced barrier stalls and the photo-finish to Sydney.“
The Golden races in Sydney, it’s fair to say, well and truly trump additions to the Melbourne calendar such as the VRC Australian Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) and Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m). And the harbour city is about to have another in The Everest (1200m), established by the Australian Turf Club (ATC), which – whatever you think of it and whatever its future may be – will have everyone captivated on 14 October.
Today’s Golden Rose ranks with the best editions to date. It has tremendous depth despite the appearance of the market-stifling Menari who is one of five sons of Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) contesting the race.
Menari was dominant in winning the lead-up The Run To Rose (Gr 2, 1200m) on 9 September but I’m not entirely sure he has a $2.10 mortgage on the race even if he is obviously the one too beat.
Every Run To The Rose winner – since that race secured back type in 2005 – to contest the Golden Rose has finished in the three and five horses (of the nine) have completed the double. That’s hardly a shock given their proximity and natural progression and a general lack of Victorian raiders.
Menari may well add to the list but his wide draw potentially complicates matters and I’m not sure the lead up races he’s won were necessarily stronger than those won by Merchant Navy (Fastnet Rock), Gold Standard (Sebring) or Dracarys (Snitzel).
The pace looks likely to be quick courtesy of The Mission (Choisir) and Perast (Snitzel) while the jockeys aboard some of those drawn wide, who’ve been racing forward of late, might also commit to being positive early.
Merchant Navy travels from Melbourne and while there is no precedent for a H D F McNeil Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) winner taking the Golden Rose, his trainer Ciaron Maher definitely has an x-factor; his horse is unbeaten and the form through Trekking (Street Cry) says he’s not markedly inferior to Menari.
Peter and Paul Snowden also certainly have an x-factor when it comes to three-year-old colts and stallion making races and they’re represented by Pariah (Redoute’s Choice), Dracarys and Assimilate (Sebring) – each a colt and each with a chance.
Chauffeur (Snitzel), who’s drawn seven and note he’s missed the start in races when drawn much closer in, and Shogun Son (Written Tycoon) also have wildcard chances.
History says the bet is Menari the place but that’s not much fun, is it? I think it’s a race to savour rather than spend up. The play might be to rove Menari (number 2) with the closers 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11 in trifectas (on the basis that an expected fast pace will favour the closers).
The Gloaming Stakes (Gr 3, 1800m) precedes the Golden Rose and affords the opportunity for the obvious bet with the top three looking to have a clear edge. They are Astoria (Medaglia d’Oro), Ace High (High Chaparral) and Sanctioned (Teofilo) and the performance of the latter two might further attest to the form of Gold Standard and Dracarys.
At Caulfield, I expect the Ciaron Maher-trained Aloisia (Azamour) to stake her Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) claim with victory in the opening race. She was an impressive winner at the distance at her previous fresh run before an unlucky second in the J J Atkins (Gr 1, 1600m) in Queensland. Win or (satisfactorily) lose, I’m happy to stay with her through the spring.
This race will, I fancy like the Golden Rose, set up for the closers and the 1, 2, 4 and 8 box trifecta might be a cheap but hopefully positive early speculation.
Race seven is the MRC Foundation Cup (registered as the Naturalism Stakes) (Gr 3 , 2000m) which will shed some light on later spring contests. The key question is whether the Mick Kent-trained Group One-winning mare Abbey Marie (Redoute’s Choice) can advance her Caulfield Cup (Gr 1, 2400m) claims and frank the Bonneval (Makfi) form from the Dato‘ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (Gr 2 , 1600m) which was an oddly run affair and marred, to some extent, by a riderless horse.
Abbey Marie may need some luck from an inside draw and a run-on tempo and/or pattern will be important to her prospects and those of interesting rivals – Big Duke (Raven’s Pass), Amelie’s Star (Testa Rossa) and Samovare (Savabeel). However, I fancy the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Stampede (High Chaparral) who will dominate the race from the front and he’s the bet for me.
Brave Smash (Tosen Phantom) will be out to enhance his Everest claims in the Testa Rossa Stakes (Listed, 1200m) and, I suspect, will unleash his devastating turn of foot if ridden colder than he was at Moonee Valley.
While that Moonee Valley Listed race has little fanfare, it’s interesting to note that Darren Weir also won it last year with Voodoo Lad (I Am Invincible) who went on to run second in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) while, in 2015, the winner was fellow Everest candidate Fell Swoop (Not A Single Doubt) who went on to win the Testa Rossa.
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