As is now expected, Winx was the star of the show in a brilliant day of racing at Royal Randwick, which also featured a high rating renewal of the ATC Oaks and a Sydney Cup to remember for one of Australia’s most popular horses.
QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES
- Winx 111
- Gailo Chop 105.3
- Happy Clapper 104.9
- Humidor 103.7
Winx delivered another world class performance here, rounding up her rivals from a settling position of last to win by another big margin against the best WFA horses Australia has to offer. It’s worth point out that she was far from ideally suited on a genuine Good 3 track and in a race where the pace was well below average by Group 1 standards. That only further highlights just how amazing she is.
There are a few numbers worth pointing out that underline her total dominance in this part of the world.
- She has now run to 109 or better on 11 occasions. In the past three Australian racing seasons, the only others to reach that mark have been Hartnell (111 in 2016 Turnbull), Francis Of Assisi (110.5 in 2016 VRC Queen Elizabeth) and Humidor (109.4 when 2nd in 2017 Cox Plate.)
- During her 25 race winning sequence, she has started at 2000m or further eight times; in six of them her smallest winning margin has been 3.5L. The exceptions were last year’s Cox Plate and the three horse field in the 2016 Caulfield Stakes.
- In her past 11 wins, she has not firmed during official betting. Saturday’s SP of $1.24 was the longest price she has started since last year’s George Ryder Stakes.
Gailo Chop continued his brilliant season with a bold front-running display. He’s run to 104.5 or better four times this season.
Happy Clapper took the short cuts home to finish third and record his best 2000m rating, in line with the peaks he had run in three previous runs this campaign. Similar to the past, his 2000m rating came up short of his shorter course numbers, but not significantly so.
Humidor was only fair in the run to the line. He’s been consistent enough hitting 101 or better in his three latest runs, but he failed to deliver the spike performances which highlighted his spring in the Makybe Diva and Cox Plate. In fact he didn’t quite reach his 2017 Australian Cup winning rating of 104.5 this campaign.
An honourable mention to Comin’ Through, who posted a career best 102.9 in getting beaten five lengths.
He’s generally been a touch short of Group 1 grade, but at this figure Chris Waller has options in finding a potential Group 1 target for him in the future.
- Unforgotten 104.5
- Hiyaam 103
Unforgotten was able to turn the tables on her Vinery conqueror Hiyaam in the quickest ATC Oaks ever run.
By Oaks’ standards, this was a high rating addition, matching the figure Bonneval ran to in streeting her rivals last year.
In the past three seasons, the only three-year-old filly to rate higher than this was English, when she placed in the 2016 TJ Smith (104.8) before going on to win the All Aged Stakes (106).
It eclipses Aloisia’s spring double as the highest rated 3yo filly performance this season.
Hiyaam showed her 102.2 rating in the Vinery was no fluke with a bold front-running display here. While such a style certainly helps to bring out her best, the pace set here was somewhat extreme, just over +14 lengths faster than she ran early in the G1 Vinery.
That pace afforded Unforgotten the ideal scenario to expend her energy more efficiently than is typically the case for a back marker and that was certainly a factor in the outcome.
That’s not to take anything way from the quality of her performance. She ran outstanding overall time, showed genuine staying talent (very rare for a Fastnet Rock offspring) and is a genuine superstar in the making!
The key point to make is that Hiyaam is every bit as promising. Going forward if she can maintain that bold front running style but pace herself perhaps 5-6L slower than she did in the Oaks, then she’ll still be rolling along at a solid speed (8-9L above standard), which plays to her strengths, but it will make it more of a challenge for horses like Unforgotten to run her down.
- Who Shot Thebarman 103.4
- Auvray 100
Since winning the 2014 Auckland Cup, Who Shot Thebarman had made 20 attempts on Group 1 races without winning another.
His six placings at the highest level made him a popular bridesmaid, but at the ripe old age of nine, he broke the drought on Saturday in a solidly run race which became a stern test of 3200m ability.
Ironically, his 103.4 winning rating on Saturday was considerably less than the 106 he recorded when second in the 2017 Sydney Cup.
Who Shot Thebarman won six of his first 10 starts when trained in NZ by Mark Oulaghan and has now won six of 41 since switching to Chris Waller in 2014.
Auvray finished just out of the placings, but gave weight away to those in front of him, which earned the second highest rating in the race with a 100.
Almandin was a solid favourite, but failed to make an impact and there is some talk the 2016 Melbourne Cup winner may now be retired.
- Alizee 101
- Prompt Response 97.4
The Godolphin filly again showed her liking for the Randwick mile and a firmer surface with a dominant display over the older mares here.
Like Foxplay a year before her, Alizee just struggled to run out the 2000m in the Vinery and relished coming back to 1600m on Saturday.
Her career peak came at the same course last October with a 102.2 in the Flight Stakes. She then went to 100.4 when third in the Thousand Guineas at her next start.
In four previous runs this autumn she had failed to crack the triple figure mark, but the step to the mile again proved to her liking.
However, it was not a vintage renewal of this race.
Foxplay ran to a similar 101.7 winning it last year, but the year before, Azkadellia returned a figure closer resembling Group 1 class with a 104.
What does standout about Alizee’s win and gives us an indication that she can go even better is the quality of her sectional ratings.
A moderate early pace meant they were never going to run fast time, but the quality and sustained strength of her final 600m, stamped by the fastest last 200m rating of any winner on the day (even faster than Winx) suggests that she had more to offer, which was inhibited by the lack of early race pace.
The older mares have mostly been very even this autumn, taking it in turns without running monster numbers and it was the same again here, where Prompt Response was ‘best of the rest’ in a 97.4, which was almost identical to her last start Emancipation winning rating.