All Too Hard Does It Again

ALL Too Hard might have won more than just the $400,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick yesterday – he could well have secured Horse of the Year honours.

The super three-year-old scored his fourth Group 1 win of the season, equalling the tally of It’s A Dundeel and one more than big sister Black Caviar.

But It’s A Dundeel won his four majors against his own age group, and his defeat in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes might have cost him any chance of the title.

Australian racing’s ultimate honour might then be decided between Black Caviar and All Too Hard.

Black Caviar won her only three runs for the season and was retired after her T.J. Smith triumph at Randwick earlier this month, with her perfect race record of 25 starts for 25 wins intact.

It could be enough to secure the mare her third consecutive Horse of the Year title, though All Too Hard is mounting a compelling case.

And there is more to come, with All Too Hard likely to be given his chance in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June before the colt is retired to stand at Vinery Stud in the spring.

Hall of Famer John Hawkes, who trains All Too Hard in partnership with sons Wayne and Michael, said his colt silenced the knockers once and for all in the All Aged Stakes.

“He has shut the critics up today,” Hawkes said.

“They were saying he was no good racing the Sydney way, but he showed today what a special horse he is.

“I’ve trained some champions, like Octagonal and Lonhro, and this colt is right up there with them.”

All Too Hard was backed into $2.80 favouritism to score a memorable half-length win over a gallant Rain Affair ($11), with Melbourne Cup runner-up Fiorente ($51) an eye-catching first-up third, 1 1/4 lengths away.

Champion mare More Joyous eased from $2.50 out to $3, and struggled to finish only seventh.

All Too Hard won the Caulfield Guineas and ran second in the Cox Plate last spring, but he has returned better than ever this autumn winning the Orr Stakes, Futurity Stakes and now the All Aged Stakes.

Hawkes said a decision on Royal Ascot would be made in the next few days after he has an opportunity to discuss the England trip with the colt’s syndicate of owners, which includes Gerry Harvey, Neil Werrett and Peter Orton.

“If we go, then it will probably be for the Queen Anne Stakes because he is at his best over a mile (1600m),” Hawkes said.

Online bookmaker Sportsbet pledged on Twitter to refund all bets placed on More Joyous yesterday, saying: “Comments post race suggest the champ shouldn’t have run. Not fair on punters.”

Courtesy Daily Telegraph

Mourayan delivers Lloyd Williams another triumph in Sydney Cup

LLOYD Williams, owner of the winner, Mourayan, rates Hugh Bowman as Australia’s premier jockey – and he’s probably right.

Bowman capped his best autumn carnival with a fifth Group 1 win when he guided Williams’ tough stayer Mourayan to win the $500,000 3200m marathon at Randwick.

Despite all his success this autumn, perhaps Bowman saved the best for last.

“To win a big race for Lloyd means a hell of a lot,” he said.

“I started riding for him about this time last year. I don’t ride a whole lot for him, obviously being based in Sydney, but I got down to ride this horse at my minimum weight of 53.5kg in a Melbourne Cup.

“He wasn’t quite up to the Melbourne Cup in the spring but Lloyd has obviously aimed him at this and he has carried the top weight to win, which is a huge effort.”

Williams, who wasn’t at Randwick yesterday, now has three Sydney Cups for his mantelpiece after Major Drive (1987) and Gallic (2007).

Mourayan’s win also gave the owner and his trainer, Robert Hickmott, a rare Melbourne Cup-Sydney Cup double in the same season after their win with Green Moon at Flemington last spring.

Williams’ son Nick said Mourayan’s form had worried the stable but on his father’s advice, Hickmott changed the gelding’s training routine and it sparked a return to top form.

“Dad got the team up there to change a few things with him over the last couple of weeks, including taking the blinkers off and really sharpening him up with his work,” Williams said.

“It’s worked a treat. It is a great credit to all of the team.

“Hugh was very confident before he went out on him – and what a ride! You can see why he’s the best in Australia, can’t you? He summed that race up from the first stride, he’s a great rider.

“He was the first of these European horses we bought this time around. We’ve got some great friends in him with us and it’s great to come up here and get the Sydney Cup.”

Mourayan ($12) outstayed his rivals to score by a widening three-quarters of a length from Tasmanian stayer Norsqui ($21) with Aliyana Tilde ($16) a half-head away third.

Kelinni was heavily backed in to $2.60 favouritism but seemed to have every chance before labouring to sixth.

“I wouldn’t say it was the back-up but the hard run the other day with the weight probably told,” Kelinni’s jockey Jim Cassidy said.

“I was coming off the bit 600m out, he couldn’t dash when I put the foot down.”

Bowman has had a remarkable Sydney autumn that began with a Group 1 win on Shoot Out in the Chipping Norton Stakes last month.

He then rode two major winners on Golden Slipper day with Fiveandahalfstar in The BMW and Norzita in the Vinery Stud Stakes.

Bowman won two Group 1 races again yesterday, his Sydney Cup success coming after his win on Reliable Man in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Courtesy Daily Telegraph

Reliable Man Dominates Queen Elizabeth

TRAINER Chris Waller was entitled to be effusive in his praise, describing Reliable Man as “world class” before a casual glance at the big screen prompted him to stop mid-sentence, changing his mood completely.

Reliable Man had just romped home in the Group 1 $500,000 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick yesterday when concerned jockey Hugh Bowman immediately pulled up the grey stayer and dismounted.

The former French galloper was limping noticeably and Bowman took the saddle off for the long walk back to the weigh-in scales.

Nearby, another grey, Glass Harmonium had pulled up short in his action and his jockey, Steven Arnold, was also forced to unsaddle the horse.

Racegoers offered only polite applause as the two jockeys walked back.

Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy ordered the equine ambulance take Reliable Man straight to Randwick Equince Centre for a thorough veterinary examination rather than have the winner limp back to the winner’s enclosure.

“It’s not what you want to see,” Murrihy said.

“Unfortunately, Reliable Man has suffered an off-fore tendon injury so that will require a lengthy time off the scene.

“Glass Harmonium’s injury does not seem too bad.”

Waller had already had a topsy-turvy week, escaping stewards sanction on Friday when cleared of any wrongdoing after three of his horses had tested positive to a banned substance found in contaminated feed, then yesterday he was fleetingly celebrating his sixth Group 1 victory of the season before learning of Reliable Man’s serious injury.

“This is a bitter-sweet moment,” Waller said.

“He’s won like a very good horse, he has excellent form in Europe and on that effort he is world class.”

Reliable Man ($12), winner of the French Derby two years ago, was having only his second Australian start and gave an impressive demonstration of his class when scoring comprehensively by two-and-a-half lengths from hot favourite It’s A Dundeel ($1.28) with Happy Trails ($41) a half length away third.

Bowman, who had the offer to ride It’s A Dundeel but stuck to his commitment on Reliable Man, gave his signature wave to the crowd 50m out oblivious to the winner’s injury problems.

“I didn’t realise soemthing had happened until after the line otherwise I would not have carried on like a pork chop,” Bowman admitted.

“He’s obviously a quality animal so let’s hope the injury is not career-threatening.”

Waller said he had planned to spell Reliable Man after today’s race and set him for the Cox Plate in the spring but said his only concern now was to learn the extent of the five-year-old’s injury problems.

Only two horses in the last 30 years have won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes-Cox Plate double in a calendar year Rising Prince (1985) and Might And Power (1994) but Reliable Man showed he has the necessary class and ability to complete the rare double provided, of course, he is injury-free.

Reliable Man, a rising six-year-old stallion, has now scored Group 1 wins in both hemispheres and is an extremely valuuable stallion prospect.

The Queen Elizabeth Stakes has been a bogey race for three-year-olds and that jinx continued when Triple Crown hero It’s A Dundeel was soundly baeten.

Jockey Michael Rodd said It’s A Dundeel travelled well at the rear of the field but he became concerned well before the home turn.

“At the 600m normally he is towing into the race but when they put the foot down today, he was ‘scrubbing’ to stay in the race,” Rodd said.

Trainer Murray Baker said It’s A Dundeel “had every chance”.

“He was beaten by a better horse,” Baker conceded.

Courtesy Daily Telegraph

Pierro Retired

Star Gai Waterhouse-trained three-year-old Pierro has been officially retired following his gutsy second placing in yesterday’s $2 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m).

Described by Waterhouse as ‘the best horse she has ever trained’, the son of Lonhro will now head to stud with owner Greg Kolivos yet to decide where Pierro will stand for the upcoming breeding season.

Kolivos told Racing Network this morning that he felt that Pierro had nothing left to prove.

“His run in the Doncaster was fantastic, he lost no admirers, he had to carry 57kg on a really heavy track and wasn’t disgraced,” Kolivos said.

“We thought about the Queen Elizabeth (2000m) but he had a tough run yesterday and it is only seven days away.

“He has nothing left to prove and we feel the timing is right to retire him.

“He has won five Group 1s, he could have come back and won more next season and even more after that but there comes a time when you say a horse has done enough.”

Runner up behind All Too Hard in the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) as well as finishing third in the Cox Plate (2040m), it was in Sydney where Pierro showed his true greatness winning ten of his eleven starts including five times at Group 1 level.

Champion two-year-old of the 2011/12 season, courtesy of an unbeaten run that included completing Sydney’s famous Triple Crown, Pierro also added Group 1 victories as a three-year-old in the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) and George Ryder (1500m).

Leading jockey Nash Rawiller partnered Pierro in twelve of the colt’s fourteen starts, for ten wins including the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m).

Pierro will retire with 11 career victories from 14 starts and over $4.5 million in prize money.

Waller wins third Doncaster Mile

Chris Waller won his third Doncaster Mile as Sacred Falls gunned down favourite Pierro in a thrilling finish at Royal Randwick.

Sacred Falls settled last on the fence and got a dream run through on the back of the favourite to claim the $2 million Group 1.

Pierro lost no admirers, fighting hard with the 57kg on the heavy track but in the end the impost was too much as Sacred Falls, with only 53kg, produced a superior turn of foot inside the final 100m.

“You can’t describe the feeling, I don’t think you will ever get used to it, it hasn’t really set in yet, it was an amazing ride by Tommy Berry,” Waller said.

“This horse has beaten a very good field today, obviously Pierro had a lot of weight but Sacred Falls has still done a great job.”

Sacred Falls firmed from $21 to $19 in the betting ring and won by three quarters of a length from Pierro ($3.50) with Norzita ($11) a further three quarters away in third.

Waller took over the training of Sacred Falls from New Zealand trainer Tony Pike at the start of the autumn carnival.

Sacred Falls arrived unbeaten after six starts and Waller said it was certainly satisfying to get the colt’s first win in Australia.

“I guess the thing was not to panic, he came to me six out of six, and it went pretty pear shaped but we didn’t lose confidence,” Waller said.

“I was happy with him in the Randwick Guineas but he just got shunted off the track, he was pushed four and five wide at the 1200m mark and still ran on well, I could see what I was working with, it didn’t suit to be third up in the Rosehill Guineas and he still managed to run second.

“I knew he would be cherry ripe coming back to a mile, I had the confidence to freshen him up, we used this same path with Rangirangdoo and also Shoot Out last year.”

Waller won his first Group 1 when Triple Honour won the Doncaster Mile in 2008 and Rangirangdoo gave him his second win in the famous race in 2010.

Story by Brent Zefara