The opening day of the Championships may not have delivered the results that met with the expectations of punters, but naturally enough, the racing did produce some outstanding performances.
Happy Clapper continued to build on his career best form this preparation with a gutsy win in the Doncaster under 57kg, but it wasn’t enough to earn him top billing in our WPR charts this week.
Here’s a review of the main features from Randwick.
- Happy Clapper 106.8
- Humidor 101.1
- D’Argento 100
What a remarkable horse is Happy Clapper.
He’s rising eight now, but at career starts 32, 33 and 34 this autumn, he’s lifted his career peak on each occasion.
He came into this campaign with a best of 104.9, but bettered that with a 105.5 first up in the Canterbury Stakes.
He then went to 106.3 in getting within 0.8L of Winx in the Ryder, before edging a little further on that figure in the Doncaster, which was run at a fast pace to give all horses a chance.
He joins elite company as the winner of both big Randwick miles this season – a feat Winx achieved in her first Horse of the Year season in 2015-16. Before her, you had to go back to the Mighty Super Impose in 1990-91, which underlines the enormity of what he’s been able to achieve.
He’s a perfect example of a horse allowed to mature over time, without being over taxed. There’s no reason he can’t go on for another season yet, having just the handful of runs each campaign.
On ratings from this race, Humidor could not beat him home in this Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but like Trapeze Artist (see below), Humidor is what we can accurately describe as a ‘spike horse.’
It was always highly unlikely he would threaten in the Doncaster, but in running here, Darren Weir has afforded him the same 7-day back-up formula that brought about his career best run in last year’s Cox Plate.
He went to 109.4 in the Cox Plate, coming off a seemingly lacklustre 100.4 in the Caulfield Cup a week earlier.
Humidor has three career ratings of 104.5 or better and we anticipate he will lift beyond that range again stepping up to 2000m this weekend.
There was a lot of hype about the performance of D’Argento and there’s little doubt that barriers really cruelled his two tilts at Group 1 events over the Randwick mile this autumn.
He again had to go a long way back here and he was the lone runner from the back half of the field to make any inroads up the running.
He’s clearly a super talent.
But it must be pointed out, he still has to lift another notch yet to be in the absolute elite class.
His peak to this point is 101.8 and importantly he has gone to 100 or better in three of his past four runs. He just needs to find those couple of extra lengths to be considered a genuine G1 WFA competitor.
Kementari was never fully tested at any stage and his 97.7 rating from this race is no indication of where he sits in the big picture.
T.J. SMITH STAKES
- Trapeze Artist 108.3
- Redzel 103.6
- In Her Time 99
We had written previously of Redzel’s ultra-consistent performances over the last 12 months that while admirable, still left him vulnerable to a one-off spike.
Redzel’s established peak is 105 – short of elite level – and when a gifted (albeit inconsistent) colt had conditions made to order here, it was borne out in the result.
Trapeze Artist went to 105.5 in last year’s Golden Rose and not come close to replicating that feat since.
But in a sharp training move by Gerald Ryan, he was able to freshen him off a 28 day break to come back from the Randwick Guineas (1600m) to relish this speed test.
His 108.3 is not only a career best for him, but sends him straight to the top of the 3YO WPR charts this season. His rating is better than Chautauqua achieved winning this race over the last 3 years (105, 107.8 and 107)
It means that Gerald Ryan trained 3yo’s now own the FOUR best performances for the age group this season, with Menari having clocked consecutive ratings of 105.5 and 106.5 early last spring.
Next best among the Classic generation is Kementari, who went to 104.7 in Winx’s George Ryder.
Trapeze Artist was well found on Saturday, but he’s hardly a reliable betting conveyance.
It has been suggested he could have one more start in the All Aged Stakes, but with a stud deal in the offing, winning that would add little to his established value and would also carry the distinct possibility of him being rolled, so it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if this is the last we see of Trapeze Artist.
Redzel came off his 104-105 platform slightly here, but was still clearly best of the rest.
In Her Time’s chances were cruelled by an ill-judged ride and ugly passage in transit and the rating is best forgiven. She’s capable of much better than this as we saw from her 106.5 at the start prior and two previous performances of 104.5.
- Levendi 102.5
- Ace High 102.3
This turned into a cracking spectacle, with the first two clearing out from their rivals to stage an epic duel up the famous Randwick straight in what was a genuinely run 2400m test.
In the end, Levendi had his nose in front where it counted, denying Ace High the privilege of joining Dulcify and Mahogany as the only VRC Derby winners to complete the Derby double since this race was switched to the autumn in 1979.
They had almost six lengths to spare over third placed Tangled.
While the rating from this race is hardly vintage, it’s worth noting it is significantly better than the 99 recorded by Jon Snow in winning the race last year and very similar to the 102.8 Mongolian Khan went to win this race in 2015.
Mongolian Khan stretched his limits to 106 the following spring, which was enough to win him a Caulfield Cup.
The future for our Derby quinella is very much dependent on what type of improvement they can find next season.
Levendi’s profile is appealing. He peaked at 97.4 to win the Carbine Club in the spring and this time around went 98 (Alister Clark) and 97 (Tulloch) before peaking in the Derby.
Ace High’s only blemish for the autumn was on the wet track in the Rosehill Guineas. He showed his superiority over those horses on Saturday, but just happened to strike a horse off another different formline.
His rating here was slightly up on the 101.8 he ran to win the Derby at Flemington last November.
SIRES PRODUCE STAKES
- El Dorado Dreaming 98.5
- Oohood 98.3
There may have been a few excuses for Oohood here, but the bottom line is she fell away from her Golden Slipper spike (102.9), which left her vulnerable to the bolter getting the verdict in a tricky photo finish.
El Dorado Dreaming had shown steady improvement in each of three previous starts (70.4, 84.6, 87.5) but by any stretch, this was a quantum leap thundering down the outside to win this.
Ben Smith had waited anxiously for nine months to get an overdue Group 1 success with In Her Time and suddenly he has two in the space of a fortnight.
This kind of rating is well off what we would consider top class for two-year-olds though.
Invader went to 102 winning it last year and Yankee Rose recorded a more genuine Group 1 figure of 104.1 the year before.
The time figures and lack of margin spread (7 horses within 1.9 lengths) don’t justify this year’s race rating any higher. It came in eighth best on the day based on overall time and the break-down of the sectionals didn’t paint the picture any brighter.