Waterhouse and Bott send out another big juvenile winner as Hellbent colt impresses in Inglis Millennium
RedFox Racing’s bargain buy Fully Lit (Hellbent) made light of a horror draw to score another major success for his sire and extend Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott’s dizzying two-year-old run with an imperious victory in yesterday’s Inglis Millennium (RL, 1100m) at Randwick.
Jumping from gate 14 of 15, the $2.80 favourite was slightly slowly away, had to sit three wide without cover through the early stages, but kicked to the front at the 200 metres to put the race away.
He held on to win by three-quarters of a length from Tony and Calvin McEvoy’s promising colt Rue De Royale (Per Incanto), the third-favourite at $6.50, while the David Payne-trained outsider Rag Queen (D’Argento) flew home to be third at $31.
A $60,000 purchase for Tracey Rook’s nascent syndicator RedFox at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale – the same sale where a half-sister by first-season sire North Pacific (Brazen Beau) also bred by Glenlogan Park will be on offer next week – Fully Lit took his earnings to $1,293,000 by providing his stable’s first win in the $2 million Millennium’s ten-year history.
The third foal of two-time winner Sunlit (Snitzel), he also claimed the $400,000 Inglis Pink bonus for being the first home of the three runners in the race with at least 75 per cent female ownership.
The victory under Regan Bayliss enhanced Tulloch Lodge’s stunning dominance of the juvenile scene this season, in which they’ve had 11 individual winners.
Waterhouse and Bott have already claimed the $3 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (RL, 1200m) with Storm Boy (Justify), the ruling $3 favourite for the Golden Slipper (Gr 1, 1200m) on March 23
They also have the $4 favourite for the Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) at Caulfield on February 24 with last week’s Widden Stakes (Gr 3, 1100m) winner Lady Of Camelot (Written Tycoon).
Bookmakers responded to yesterday’s sizzling Millennium triumph by shortening Fully Lit to $11 for the Blue Diamond, and $21 for the Slipper.
The training partners have no fewer than five horses shorter in the market for the Rosehill feature, and before yesterday Waterhouse had commented that Fully Lit was only “about sixth or seventh” in the rankings of the stable’s juveniles. Yesterday’s win, albeit in Restricted Listed class, might have gone some way to readdressing that order.
“He’s certainly going in the right direction, that’s for sure,” Bott said.
“It was a restricted race today so we’ll sort of look at the options, whether we do tempt a Blue Diamond.
“We kept him in calculations there. He may stay here in one of the Slipper lead-ups, just keep him at home and look at one of those lead-ups and give him that opportunity to see how he does stack up against the grade. Because every time we’ve raised the bar he’s responded in a big way.”
Bott said the Millennium had emerged as an early target for Fully Lit given the strength of his all-the-way debut win by almost three lengths in an 1100-metre two-year-old handicap at Rosehill on January 20, coupled with yesterday’s race featuring in the Pink Bonus series.
“I’m so proud of the horse, the way he won today,” Bott said. “From a wide draw, he was a little bit on the back foot out of the gates but he settled well, covered a bit of ground, and it was great to see how strong he was through the line.”
Bott gave thanks for owners who’d supported the stable with two-year-olds this season, while also suggesting their success with the age group was not merely about class athletes and pedigrees.
“We’ve had some great support so I’m very thankful to everyone who’s been able to support us throughout the year, and the team at home that’s worked so hard to educate these horses,” he said. “We like to make that a big part of our stable, the education of these young ones, and it’s great to see that the results are there.”
While his trainers might assess Fully Lit as one of many of their smart juveniles, jockey Bayliss was full of enthusiasm for how far the colt could go.
“There’s no ceiling on this horse. I just think that he’s going to keep improving. It was a gutsy win,” Bayliss said.
“He stepped on terms. Even if you watch his last start, he’s quick but he’s not electrifying quick. I think he’ll be better over the six furlongs where he can find that better rhythm. He’s a tough horse and he’s done a great job. There’s not a lot of him, just all heart.
“It was a very tough win. I got more confident as the day grew on, just how the track was racing, that I didn’t need to find that fence. I was quite happy giving him a bang out, and I was so confident in the horse I was happy to sit three-deep and just get him into a rhythm.”
Rue De Royale performed strongly first-up after running second to Waterhouse-Bott’s Shangri La Express (Alabama Express) in the Golden Gift (1100m). From gate nine the colt trailed Fully Lit in running and made a strong challenge inside the home straight before possibly peaking on his run in the dying stages, and will draw benefit from the outing.
“It was a very good run,” said his rider Chad Schofield. “We followed the winner, chased hard and will improve from the run fitness-wise.”
Second-starter Rag Queen, a Canterbury maiden winner on debut, was the main eye-catcher, flying from 13th at the 200 metres when six lengths off the lead to narrowly miss second. The filly is among the first three runners for Bowness Stud’s Rosehill Guineas (Gr 1, 2000m) winner D’Argento (So You Think).
“She was really strong late,” her rider Jason Collett said. “She is so green and raw still, so great to see the way she is finishing off. She has a lot of growing up to do but she was really strong late. She’ll be worth the wait with the engine she’s got.”
In winning yesterday’s race, Fully Lit (2 c Hellbent – Sunlit by Snitzel) became the fourth black-type victor for Hellbent (I Am Invincible), Yarraman Park’s $38,500 sire whose progeny is headed by Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) winning mare Magic Time.
Waterhouse last week said she’d be “having a good look” at Glenlogan’s half-sister to Fully Lit when she’s presented on the last day of the Classic sale on Tuesday, as Lot 750. Echoing the Fully Lit cross of Hellbent over Sunlit, the filly is from the first crop of Newgate Farm’s $22,000 sire North Pacific, who’s by another son of I Am Invincible in Brazen Beau.
She’s the third foal of Sunlit, with the previous two also at Tulloch Lodge. Aside from Fully Lit, The Novelist (Written By) – a $110,000 Magic Millions Gold Coast buy for the stable – is unbeaten in two starts, the latest being Doomben’s BJ McLachlan Stakes (Gr 3, 1000m) in December, 2022.
After a year off, Sunlit is now in foal to Zoustar (Northern Meteor).
The Millennium was marred by drama at the start, when Brett Cavanough’s longshot chance Cerons (Street Boss) was scratched after becoming fractious in the barriers.
Kelly Schweida’s Queensland raider El Morzillo (Star Witness) was strongly backed into $6 second-favouritism but could only finish ninth, while Ciaron Maher’s well-fancied Inglis Nursery (RL, 1000m) winner Odinson (Night Of Thunder, $10) made some ground up the inside first-up to finish seventh, beaten just over two lengths.
Waterhouse and Bott also saddled Yulong Stud’s $1.3 million Easter yearling buy Trunk (Snitzel), but after being supported into $8 the colt was disappointing in fading from the lead to finish tenth.
Bodyguard strikes a blow for Team Snowden
Tulloch Lodge’s hold on the two-year-old scene might not be so total after all.
Bodyguard (I Am Invincible), Peter and Paul Snowden’s powerhouse colt bought at the Gold Coast by James Harron for $1.6 million, again provided stirring justification for his price tag with a storming victory in yesterday’s colts and geldings’ Blue Diamond Prelude (Gr 3, 1100m) at Caulfield.
Fresh from his two-length win in the Maribyrnong Trial Stakes (Listed, 1000m) at Flemington on October 7, Bodyguard settled fifth, three and four wide, under Mark Zahra after jumping from gate nine, and charged home down the outside in the straight to score by half a length.
Despite easing to $4.20, Bodyguard – the most expensive purchase for Harron’s colts syndicate last year – reeled in the Phillip Stokes-trained Stay Focused (Cosmic Force, $3.40) with the winner’s stablemate Holmes A Court (Capitalist, $15), finishing a further two and a quarter lengths away in third.
The third Team Snowden starter, Blue Diamond Preview (Listed, 1000m) winner High Octane (Deep Field), had no luck. The $2.30 favourite was stuck behind rivals while running up the unfavourable inside of the straight, and wasn’t pushed out in finishing a three-length fifth.
But there could be no denying the strength of the performance of Bodyguard. While Waterhouse and Bott dominate the markets for the autumn’s two-year-old features, Bodyguard was ominously shortened yesterday by the TAB into a $6 third-favourite for the Blue Diamond Stakes – and an equal-favourite in some markets. He was also made a $13 fifth-favourite for the Golden Slipper.
The victory was also more vindication for the judgement of Mark Zahra, whose ditching of his 2022 Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winner Gold Trip (Outstrip) for Without A Fight (Teofilo) last spring was rewarded with the Cups double.
Having ridden Bodyguard in his first start, Melbourne-based Zahra had travelled to Sydney to ride him in two trials leading into yesterday’s first-up run. He had also ridden High Octane in the Blue Diamond Preview, but stuck with Bodyguard.
“I said to Peter, ‘Do I have to ride a certain one here?’ And he said, ‘Just stick with Bodyguard’, and he knows more than me,” Zahra said.
“His trials were OK, I wouldn’t say amazing. I said after his last one he trialled good, could’ve trialled better, but the difference is – raceday vibe, good atmosphere, he was up and about. One [whip strike] around his bum and he was away.
“He had it won a long way out. It was a good victory.”
Peter Snowden praised Zahra’s choice to stay wide on Bodyguard in his first try around a Melbourne bend, calling it “a perfect ride”.
“First time at Caulfield with Sydney horses, if they get on the wrong leg, you’ve just got to coax them around the corner,” Snowden said. “But when you’re buried away inside and can’t see air, it takes longer for them to change stride.
“But he’s a very professional horse this bloke, it was good to see what he did late.”
Snowden said Holmes A Court had “run terrific”, while High Octane had “never got out of three-quarter pace” and would “keep for another day”.
Bred by Emirates Park, Bodyguard is the first foal of unraced mare Tumooh (Fastnet Rock), a daughter of Golden Slipper winner Mossfun (Mossman). Tumooh’s second foal, a colt by Capitalist (Written Tycoon), was sold to Busuttin Racing for $300,000 by Emirates Park at the Gold Coast last month.
After missing to Tassort (Brazen Beau) in 2023 and in a return cover by I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) last year, Tumooh was covered by Justify (Scat Daddy) last November.
One race after Bodyguard’s victory, the Clinton McDonald-trained Hayasugi (Royal Meeting) pushed her Blue Diamond Stakes claims by becoming the first filly since Fontiton (Turffontein) in 2015 to complete the Blue Diamond Preview-Prelude double.
Though easy in betting again, as she was when narrowly winning the Preview (Gr 3, 1000m), Hayasugi ($8.50) stormed down the outside from eighth of the 15 runners on the turn to win the Prelude (Gr 2, 1100m) by the barest of margins from gallant Adelaide raider Kuroyanagi (Written Tycoon), the well-supported $5.50 second elect.
Anthony and Sam Freedman’s Matisse (Microphone) was an eye-catching swooper for third, from 13th on straightening, after also taking bronze in the Preview.
Hayasugi’s time in beating her 14 rivals was 1:03.66, fractionally slower than Bodyguard’s 1:03.64 in a nine-runner field, and on a track upgraded after his win from a Good 4 to a Good 3.
Still, McDonald said the run under Jamie Kah was full of merit, with Hayasugi likely to be better suited by the 1200 metres of the Blue Diamond Stakes.
“She’s one of those fillies that’s just tough,” the winning trainer said. “She cops anything you throw at her and you saw today she had that horse on her inside pushing her off the track [on the turn].
“She was good enough to balance up and find the line like that, so I thought there was a lot of credit to the win, and I know there’s still improvement to come.
“We’ve been pretty soft on her and let her come through naturally and she’s only had one gallop since her last start, and she’ll tighten up beautifully going to 1200 [metres].
“It was a great ride by Jamie. She was so confident before the race. We all were actually, we just couldn’t believe the price. I thought I must be a mug, but anyway, God bless the bookies. It’s been a good day.”
Bred by veteran boutique breeder Mike O’Donnell of the lower Hunter Valley’s Fairhill Farm, Hayasugi is an early star for Victorian farm Leneva Park’s British stallion Royal Meeting (Invincible Spirit), who now has one winner – of two stakes races – from five runners.
Bought for $47,5000 by James Bester and Shane McGrath along with Cara Mok at the 2022 Inglis Australian Weanling Sale, Hayasugi is the fourth foal out of the unraced China Road (Commands), a mare handicapped by having only one ovary. Having missed on five matings since bearing Hayasugi, China Road was covered by Jacquinot (Rubick) last November.
“She’s got such a phenomenal temperament, she was the pick of the yard today and she’s still got improvement to come,’’ Shane McGrath said.
“She got a bit lost around the turn but once she picked herself up she really let down like a nice filly so if we can draw a gate in the Blue Diamond, she’s going to give it one hell of a shake.’’
Bester added: “A lot of the credit for this filly must go to Shane McGrath, he’s the one who found her and dragged me down to see her to ask what I thought but he did all the hard work.
“This filly is very, very good. She did a lot of things wrong today but when she let down, wow, she just exploded and she just has this great will to win.”