Racing News

Snowden’s hoping ‘under the radar’ Fearless can come of age at Randwick

Son of Yulong’s Pierata attempts to land first stakes win in this weekend’s Inglis Sires’

Forecasts of an autumn carnival-style Biblical deluge and a feeling that Fearless (Pierata) has slipped under the radar has co-trainer Peter Snowden increasingly hopeful the colt can spring an upset in Saturday’s Inglis Sires’ (Gr 1, 1400m).

At first glance, the $1 million middle leg of Sydney’s two-year-old Triple Crown has the look of a classic match race between Golden Slipper (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Lady Of Camelot (Written Tycoon) and Storm Boy (Justify), the star colt who surrendered his unbeaten record to her when finishing third after bombing the start as favourite that day. 

But, just as Saturday’s Australian Cup match race between Pride Of Jenni (Pride Of Dubai) and Mr Brightside (Bullbars) went the way of Cascadian (New Approach), Snowden has a growing confidence James Harron’s colt Fearless could tear up the Sires’ script at Randwick.

Part of his hopes are pinned on some bleak news appearing on a non-metaphorical radar – that used by the Bureau of Meteorology – which suggests Doncaster Day will have a heavy track for the 12th time in 20 editions – only one of which was not rain-affected.

The BOM has gone wide with its selections, mind you, forecasting the possibility of between 25 and 90 millimetres of rain on Friday, and a chance of up to 30mm on Saturday. They’ve also been proven to be not the most reliable tipsters over the years, but they do have Sydney’s sodden autumn carnival history to vouch for them.

Fearless – bought at the lower end of the Harron Colts spectrum at $220,000 from Highgrove Stud’s draft at Inglis Classic Yearling Sale – has built a healthy profile towards the Sires’, while his stable has long been eager for him to step up to its 1400m distance.

Sharing the same second dam as quadruple Group 1-winning sprinter Starspangledbanner (Choisir), Fearless was spelled after a fast-finishing debut fourth in Randwick’s Breeders’ Plate (Gr 3, 1000m). He returned with two barrier trial wins over his more vaunted Snowden-Harron team-mate Bodyguard (I Am Invincible), before a half-length second to Prost (Snitzel) in the Canonbury Stakes (Gr 3, 1100m).

The colt’s finest hour came at his longest price when a $31 shot in the Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m). Jumping from gate 14, he went back to near last, was the second-widest runner around the turn, and flashed home in the straight to run sixth, beaten two lengths.

Never intended for the Golden Slipper, he instead stepped out at Newcastle two days earlier for a soft-kill, confidence-boosting win in a seven-horse maiden over 1200 metres, when $1.24 favourite. He won by a not outlandish 1.1 lengths, but his first-time partner Tommy Berry was eager to stay aboard for the Sires’, for which he’s drawn ideally in gate four of ten.

One of only four non-Slipper runners in the Sires’, Fearless was a $21 chance after yesterday’s barrier draw, with Storm Boy at $2.50 and Lady Of Camelot $4.50.

“I do think he’s come in under the radar a bit,” Snowden told ANZ Bloodstock News. “He’s been exposed in some good races. He ran a close second in the Canonbury, and then his Blue Diamond run was first class.

“That was his first run that way of going, he was 12-wide from the half mile on, and only got beaten two lengths. I thought his run was excellent. The second horse there came out and won the Golden Slipper, so the form holds up.

“He’s been very competitive in everything he’s gone in, and we’ve been waiting for the 1400 metres for him. He didn’t get out of second gear at Newcastle, and he’s really come on from that.

“Plus his work this morning (Tuesday) was excellent. Tommy hopped off him and was very happy with him.”

Snowden is naturally wary of the top two in the market – who’ll doubtless be among the four Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott runners around the front of the field – but with a caveat.

“Lady Of Camelot and Storm Boy, it’s hard to fault their form,” he said. “But, while this race is only a furlong further than they’ve been, at two years old that can really sort the wheat from the chaff. And being on-pace runners, they could also get tired late up the long straight.

“Plus, this heavy track could throw a big spanner in the works.”

That said, Fearless – like all in the field – hasn’t been near a heavy track, his only near-wet experience being his wins at Newcastle and in a Canterbury trial on a Soft 5 – possibly half the number that will be put up on Saturday.

His sire Pierata (Pierro) could handle it, with a heavy record of 5: 1-1-1. He won the 2018 Sydney Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) on a Heavy 9, and ran Nature Strip (Nicconi) to a nose second in the 2019 The Galaxy (Gr 1, 1100m) on a Heavy 8.

And Fearless’ dam Matildare (Rothesay) may have merely won her three races at Toowoomba, and from 1050 metres to 1200 metres only, but one was on a Heavy 8.

“This weather could throw a real spanner in the works,” Snowden said. “We’re in the dark as much as anyone. You don’t know until you try it. Pierata could get through it at least, although that mightn’t mean much on the day.”

A two-year-old Group 1 title would be most welcome for Harron, after a season of highs and lows with his juvenile colts.

Group 3 winner Bodyguard has gone for a spell following his 14th-placed finish in the Slipper, ending a campaign that promised much after the colt won his first two starts in Melbourne, but which was derailed by a Racing Victoria’s vet’s highly contentious decision to order his scratching as one of the favourites a day out from the Blue Diamond, citing lameness.

Aardvark (Capitalist) carried Harron’s colours to victory in the Talindert Stakes (Listed, 1100m) at Flemington but could then manage only seventh as second-favourite in the Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m) at the same track.

And Highness (Snitzel) won the Magic Millions Wyong 2YO Classic (RL, 1100m) at start two, before running second to Storm Boy in the $3 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (RL, 1200m) at the Gold Coast, but hasn’t been seen since.

At least there’s some hope springing from Harron for Fearless on Saturday, despite the decidedly autumnal clouds looming on the horizon.

“It’s always been the plan to target the Sires’,” he told ANZ. “We’ve always been looking for the 1400 metres with him.

“It was a nice, confidence-building run for him at Newcastle, albeit in maiden company. The weather forecast is a big factor, but hopefully he can handle the wet like Pierata could. He’s an athletic type of horse and not a big heavy horse, and sometimes they can handle it OK.

“But you just never know until you see them race on it. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing him go round, and seeing what he can do.”

Victory for Fearless would bring a third stakes-winner for Yulong’s first-season sire Pierata – and his second in eight days following Tobeornottobe’s VRC Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) at Flemington last the weekend.

Moreover, Pierata has two chances of Sires’ success, with his other stakes-winner, the Matt Laurie-trained Coleman, fronting up as a $9 chance after his superb Golden Slipper second, though he has a tricky barrier nine for Damian Lane.

Coleman was widely dismissed after his 13th placing as favourite in the Blue Diamond, and won back few admirers when third in the Pago Pago Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m). But backing up a week later in the Slipper as a drifting $41 longshot, he surged home in the straight from eighth on the turn and was hailed as the winner until Lady Of Camelot emerged from her cosseted run to dart to victory by a head.

Pierata sits third by earnings among Australia’s first-season sires, but is the only one amongst them with two stakes winners.

The nine-year-old is seventh on the two-year-old sires’ table by earnings, but rises to third on the score of stakes-winners – behind the three apiece of Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) and Capitalist (Written Tycoon). All three are level on three stakes wins.

Given the strongest market chance of upsetting the Tulloch Lodge two-horse-battle in the Sires’ are Michael Freedman’s filly Manaal (Tassort) at $6, and Godolphin’s Traffic Warden (Street Boss) at $9, after both produced eye-catching Slipper runs.

Sweet Embrace Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) winner Manaal, who has gate ten for Jason Collett, powered home along the inside in the Slipper from second-last on the turn to run a 2.3 length fifth at $41.

And Traffic Warden, dropping back in trip after winning the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m), also showed great strength in taking fourth in the Slipper at $26 after being tenth on the turn.

Traffic Warden, who has barrier three for Jamie Kah, and Anode (I Am Invincible), another Waterhouse-Bott runner, are the only leading chances proven at 1400 metres, with the latter running a narrow, fighting second behind Linebacker (Super Seth) after leading in last Saturday’s Baillieu (Gr 3, 1400m) at Rosehill. 

Storm Boy drew barrier eight for James McDonald, while Lady Of Camelot has gate six for her Slipper partner Blake Shinn.

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