Four Group 1 races across two states in addition to the re-appearance of the country’s top ranked sprinter made for a brilliant weekend of racing and a host of high quality performances.
Which horse finished top of the pops on Saturday? The answer may surprise you.
And what of the two-year-olds? The Golden Slipper picture hardly became any clearer with the running of the Todman and Reisling Stakes.
THE NEWMARKET HCP
- Redkirk Warrior 104.8
- Brave Smash 103.8
- Merchant Navy 101.7
Second up? Not a problem. Redkirk Warrior continued his theme of running booming ratings up the Flemington straight while at the same time brushing off the trend of his previous two campaigns of dropping off a cliff second up.
This rating represented the slightest of new peaks for Redkirk Warrior, who has now topped 104 four times up the Flemington straight. Coming up the outside, by contrast to the next three best, he clocked the best overall time rating of the day.
Brave Smash has gone to a new Australian peak here, up on the 102.7 he produced when third in the Everest. He’s proving most versatile in Australia and we’re yet to see him at 1600m, where he was very effective at in Japan.
It seems he’s going to stick to the sprint trips, with the T.J. Smith next on the radar. He will have to rate higher again if he’s to beat the super consistent Redzel in that race.
Merchant Navy measured up well against the two established older horses under handicap conditions, returning a rating just short of his 102.3 peak in the Coolmore Stud Stakes. His sectionals over the final 800m were clearly the best in the race and his 600m to 200m speed was scintillating!
Given the clear track pattern on the day of ground closer to the fence being superior, there’s an argument to say that being 7-8 off the fence inside the 400m and then still well off the fence over the final 200m was the difference between him winning and losing. He’s clearly a very smart horse, but his get back run style is a definite disadvantage when racing against top class opposition.
- Harlem 103.6
- Gailo Chop 102.9
- Ventura Storm 101.7
- Almandin 101.4
Back in the early part of the spring we highlighted Harlem’s Group 1 potential, when he ran to 105 second up in the Naturalism Stakes.
Unfortunately, it took him another seven starts to live up to it!
The track on Saturday and the lane racing it produced meant luck became a key factor in a number of races and Harlem was the beneficiary of it in this race.
Conversely, Almandin couldn’t run to his full potential as he ran into a traffic jam with Harlem beating him to the runs he needed.
Gailo Chop was brave on speed, coming back off his Peter Young spike of 105.5 to finish second here.
Ventura Storm boasted a win over Humidor in the spring (best of the rest in Winx’s Turnbull), but failed to go on with it. Notably, jockey Regan Bayliss’ post-race comment that “he has acclimatized now” match up with his new Australian peak in this race.
- Kementari 104
- Pierata 101.4
- Trapeze Artist 100.9
Kementari made a mockery of any concerns over the mile and dominated the Randwick Guineas in the same way he had taken care of his rivals in the previous two runs this preparation.
He is now a clear cut Doncaster Mile favourite and deservedly so given he has just 51.5kg (5kg under WFA) in that race.
He’s well established at the 104 level now, which is approximately +1L superior to the 102 Grunt ran to win the Australian Guineas a week earlier.
Pierata rounded out a terrific few months with his second placing, fulfilling the prediction Corey Brown made after his first up run in Brisbane last November that he was a Group 1 horse in the making.
Trapeze Artist had to roll forward from the wide gate and was a sitting shot again. 1600m is probably at his outer limits in any case, but he’s returned a respectable 100.9, without getting close to his Golden Rose figure, where he sat off the monster tempo.
Ace high (100.1) continues to tick over nicely and gets the chance to come into his own next time out over 2000m in the Rosehill Guineas.
- Happy Clapper 105.5
- Global Glamour 102.8
- Invincible Gem 99.6
A new peak for Happy Clapper and a best on-ground figure of 105.5 in his Canterbury Stakes return. He was also the highest rated performance of the entire week.
His new track record translated to the time ratings, with this being the number one ranked race on the Randwick card with the best final 600m sectional rating as well.
Trainer Pat Webster noted Happy Clapper has a brilliant second up record and is now deciding whether he wants to use that 2nd up run against Winx in the George Ryder, or wait another fortnight and go into the Doncaster with his next run.
No doubt he’s back better than ever. This rating eclipsed the 104.8 and 104.9 he ran to in the George Main Stakes (2nd to Winx) and Epsom (won) last year.
Global Glamour returned her best rating since the 2016 Flight Stakes in cracking triple figures for the first time in eight starts. The All Aged Stakes would seemingly be a suitable target for her, depending on what’s left by that stage of the carnival.
Invincible Gem returned to racing in fine style, having her first start in six months.
This is not far short of her career peak, which came in last year’s Missile Stakes (101.5).
- Redzel 105
- Jungle Edge 100.1
For all the plaudits earned by Redkirk Warrior winning the Newmarket under the big weight, Redzel still returned a fractionally higher WPR mark in winning the Challenge Stakes first up.
Like Happy Clapper, he lowered the course record here and his time rating was second to only Happy Clapper on the day.
Redzel has been remarkably consistent in the past 12 months, with this being his seventh consecutive rating of 104 or better and 11th of 100 or more. You simply don’t get any more consistency than that.
This was the fourth time he’s run to 105 in his career, so that is well established as his peak rating.
So to that end, he is vulnerable in the T.J. Smith Stakes to a horse returning a ‘one off spike’ (which can happen), but he sets a very solid benchmark for the race.
Jungle Edge ran his best ever rating on Good ground (+1.5L on his next best) and within 1.2L of his career peak which came on Heavy. In fact, prior to today his six best career ratings had all come on Heavy ground.
- Estijaab 100
- Pure Elation 99.1
- Aylmerton 99
- Ef Troop 98.6
- Sister Sledge 98.6
Estijaab owns two of the top five 2yo ratings in Australia this season, but this was not one of them, with her rating falling short of her 102.3 peak.
The conundrum in trying to assess this run is asking the question of whether the Hawkes stable backed off her in the past fortnight in a bid to leave more in the tank for the Grand Final in a fortnight. They won the Slipper a few years back with Mossfun, who was beaten in the final lead-up. John’s 2007 Slipper winner Forensics was also beaten in her dress rehearsal.
So that is entirely possible.
The ones behind her here have a big jump to make if they are to figure in the Slipper, although the debut of Sister Sledge is noteworthy!
Aylmerton took a big step from his debut to gun down Ef Troop in the Todman.
The boys rated short of the girls here, which is the same as what happened last week.
Ef Troop still owns the peak 2yo performance of the season (104.3), but that was at 1110m. He regressed to 94.4 when poorly ridden in the Magic Millions and this was an encouraging return run. There’s no doubt improvement, but whether he can reach the same heights at 1200m remains a big query.
Performer is now in no man’s land after dumping Hugh Bowman here. He has to trial again, but needs a sharp turnaround – he didn’t look the likely winner of this when Bowman fell.