Another weekend of brilliant two-state Group race action and a host of outstanding performances naturally followed.
Here is a glimpse of the most notable runs at Randwick and Caulfield over the weekend.
Aloisia 104 – Thousand Guineas
This stands out as being clearly the best three-year-old performance in Australia on the day.
Casual observers might look at the overall time and note it was slower than the other two 1600m races, but race quality is about far more than overall time. There are a whole lot of other factors we use to benchmark race quality and sectionally Aloisia was outstanding.
She was home seven lengths faster than Mighty Boss and 2.7L faster than Tosen Stardom, carrying more weight than both relative to WFA. Among other things, these indicators identified it as a particularly strong performance and superior to the other two Group 1 winners at the trip.
This was a massive improvement from her previous 96.4 peak as a 2YO (1600m) and normally that is some cause for hesitation, but her dominant 1.3L margin over a well performed and in-form Shoals and 2.1L over Alizee (even allowing for that filly being below her best) is a strong reference to support the high quality measures on the clock.
Shoals went ahead to 101.8 from 101.2 and was simply beaten by a better filly on the day that exploded to a new peak.
Alizee rated 100.4, down from 102.2, but even if she repeated her Flight win, it would have only seen her finish 2nd.
Aloisia has suddenly emerged as a serious top class prospect and the clear benchmark for next month’s VRC Oaks.
A case for the Cox Plate?
Prior to the Oaks, we think she’s a filly that could run very well in the Cox Plate. Placings are well and truly up for grabs behind Winx and her 104 rating with the prospect of being better suited in a race over 2040m (compared to 1600m) would set her up her as a prime candidate to finish 2nd or 3rd.
Yankee Rose may be fresh in our mind after she ran 3rd in last year’s the Cox Plate before failing in the Oaks, however prior to that there is a compelling history of 3 year old fillies coming through the Cox Plate to win the VRC Oaks.
In 2008 Samantha Miss finish 1.2L 3rd in the Cox Plate before going on to score a dominant 3.5L win the VRC Oaks. In 2006 Miss Finland was an incredibly unlucky 2.8L 6th in the Cox Plate before she went on to win the VRC Oaks by 2.3 lengths.
Going back further in history, in 1992 Slight Chance ran 3rd in the Cox Plate before winning the VRC Oaks. In the same year, Burst ran 10th in the Cox Plate and finished 3rd to Slight Chance in the Oaks.
In 1976 Surround completed the double, winning both the Cox Plate and VRC Oaks.
In 1989 Tristanagh was 7th in the Cox Plate, went on to win the Wakeful and then won the VRC Oaks. Concerns about the Cox Plate burning out a top 3-year-old filly seem to be based more on theory than fact.
Aloisia’s 104 rating on Saturday places her right in the class of the likes of Samantha Miss and Miss Finland and superior to Yankee Rose who only had a 102.2 rating peak at 1600m or further.
Aloisia still has to run to that level again to confirm her talent, but there are some good pointers to suggest that running in the Cox Plate is a very realistic and appealing option for her.
Mighty Boss 102 – Caulfield Guineas
The Mission didn’t lead but they still went incredibly fast in this race early – 10L faster than the fillies in the Thousand Guineas.
The time was fast, but they were entitled to do that in the context of the fast pace.
For Mighty Boss, 102 was a massive spike on his previous best of 92.
After looking the likely winner, Kementari returned 101.5, which is up from 98 last start and his previous 100 peak as a 2YO. So he went well, but was just beaten by a totally unexpected improver.
Catchy (99.8) rated down from 101.8 last start and may have just found the very fast high pressure 1600m outside of her preferred zone.
Tosen Stardom 102 – Toorak
He had shown Group 1 potential in Australia dating right back to his second to Contributer in the 2015 Ranvet Stakes. Since coming full time to Australia last spring, he had only been sparingly raced. Darren Weir worked his magic here and being able to get him fully fit, he rounded up his rivals over the 1600m here in a tidy effort under the 57.5kg.
This rating is still short of where he needs to be if he’s to run a place in a Cox Plate (see Gailo Chop below), but he does have scope to lift further on this given some of his past performances and 2040m will hold no fears for him.
Gail Chop: 105 – Caulfield Stakes
This is a new peak for the patched up import, up from his previous best of 103, emanating from the Underwood Stakes at his previous start. It puts him at the head of the queue in terms of those vying for second behind Winx in the Cox Plate.
Johannes Vermeer turned in a real eye-catcher his Australian debut with a 104.5 and he may well improve with the run.
He is set to back up in the Caulfield Cup. Previously he has won on eight and 11 day back-ups, so it could have been a deliberate plan by Aidan O’Brien and part-owner Lloyd Williams to manufacture his campaign like this.
The 104.5 equates to 108.1 at the weights in the Caulfield Cup (he has 54.5kg), which puts him right at the pointy end of leading prospects for the race.
Redzel 105.2 – Everest
This is consistent with his previously established peak of 105, which he has now gone to in every start this campaign.
Vega Magic ran to 103.2, which is down on his 107 and 106.5 ratings this preparation …no doubt due to the ride/circumstances. It was a horror watch for his backers.
The blinkers went on Brave Smash and he went to a new peak of 102.7.
Despite the assumption of a likely frantic tempo, The Everest ended up a very evenly run race relative to the quality of the field and not taxing for leaders at all.
Big Duke 103 – St Leger
This is an equal career peak and he’s making great progress this prep. He still needs to lift to 105 or a bit more to be a Melbourne Cup contender, but he’s headed in the right direction.
In Her Time 104.5 – Sydney Stakes
This is equal to her big first up win. This race was strong on the speed measures and compared favourably to The Everest.
In Her Time’s Stradbroke conqueror Impending turned in a terrific first up run, steaming home from the back with a terrific sectional rating to record an overall 104, which is a slight improvement on his previous best from both last year’s Golden Rose and the Stradbroke.
Happy Clapper 96.7 – Craven Plate
This was massively down on his 104.8-104.9 form this prep. The race ended up being very slowly run, with a big sprint home.
The decision by Blake Shinn to take a tight hold of Happy Clapper from barrier 1 and continually drift back in the field to a position where he was 6 lengths off the leader at the 800m left him with an enormously difficult task.
This race was so slowly run over the first 1200m-1400m that the overall time rating in this G3 race was not even of decent Maiden standard. Happy Clapper’s individual time rating was 17 lengths slower than he ran winning the Epsom Handicap at his prior start.
As it turned out, Happy Clapper ran home in a “Winx like” last 600m sectional rating (his early speed rating much slower than her’s though) so it’s impossible to say he was disappointing. You couldn’t have expected much more from the horse given where he was positioned in such a slowly run race.