Beau’s Brazen Newmarket heist

Joao Moreira endorsed Brazen Beau as a Royal Ascot contender after the glamour colt outclassed a star-studded field in Saturday’s Lexus Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.

The Chris Waller-trained superstar pressed claims for recognition as the world’s best speedster in front of a crowd of 25,016, accounting for the three highest-rated sprinters in the world in the $1 million Group 1.

Expertly handled by Moreira, the world’s best jockey in the eyes of many, the three-year-old dominated the 1200-metre event to score by 2-3/4 lengths from Chautauqua, with Terravista a further half-length back third.

Moreira, who won the Coolmore Stud Stakes aboard the son of I Am Invincible last Spring, was jetted in for the Newmarket ride and the Brazilian superstar said he gave him the feel of a horse capable of winning anywhere.

“I have no doubts about it based on the way that he won today,” the Hong Kong-based rider said when asked if he could win at Royal Ascot.

“If he brings this form anywhere, he will be competitive.”

“I would love to ride him at Royal Ascot.”

Brazen Beau showed improvement off his fast-finishing second in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) to become the ninth three-year-old to win Australia’s most prestigious sprint race in the past 18 years.

With just 52kg on his back and the Newmarket run over an extra 200m, Brazen Beau settled closer than he did in the Lightning and dashed clear when asked by Moreira inside the 400m.

The $5.50 chance powered clear, having covered the split between the 600m and 200m in 21.27 seconds, to score from Chautauqua ($3.20) and Terravista ($5.50).

Lankan Rupee, the $3 favourite, settled midfield but failed to unleash the finishing burst he displayed in the Black Caviar Lightning, labouring late to finish sixth.

“Once I just pressed the button and put him under pressure a little bit he gave me such a good, strong kick,” Moreira said.

“A furlong to go I knew I was going to win the race and quite easily because he was just attacking the line, putting all that he’s got into the race.”

Waller conceded Brazen Beau, who has now won half of his 10 starts at $1.4 million in stakes, was suited by the handicap conditions of the race but deserved every accolade that comes his way.

“Obviously he’s beaten a world-class field and he’s beaten them with a bit of contempt really,” Waller said.

“Sure it’s a handicap, but he’s a three-year-old – he’s entitled to get a few kilos off them – but in six months’ time when he’s a bit older and stronger he might beat them with the top weight.

“You don’t see that performance every day. He’s beaten some very good horses and beaten them easily.”

Waller will see how Brazen Beau comes through the Newmarket before deciding whether he has another run before being freshened up ahead of the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) at Royal Ascot in June.


Group 1 breakthrough for Meech

Journeywoman jockey Linda Meech has claimed a much-deserved first Group 1 victory, piloting the Peter Moody-trained mare Plucky Belle to an upset victory in the Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill.

In a stirring finish to the Group 1 fillies and mares’ race, Plucky Belle ($16) edged out well-backed favourite First Seal ($1.60) with Diamond Drille ($21) third in a blanket finish.

Meech, the former Kiwi horsewoman, has spent much of the past decade traipsing around country Victoria as Moody’s first-choice country rider. But since Moody has put more focus on his Sydney operations, Meech has had greater opportunities and after nearly 9000 rides, and more than 1100 winners, she has finally tasted success at the top level.

Meech didn’t think Plucky Belle had got the bob in and revealed afterwards she was only alerted to the win by her fellow jockeys.

“It’s a bit surreal actually. I thought I got beaten and one of the boys told me I’d won and I was like ‘Really’?” she said.

“I was still waiting to see the number in the right spot. It’s one of those things, that won’t sink in for a while.”

“I knew she’d run a gallant race, she went everywhere I wanted to go and took every gap and when I really asked her to kick in, she pinned her little ears back.”

Meech was particularly pleased to have got the job done for Moody, who has been the biggest supporter in her career.

“He said it was about time I rode a Group 1 winner. The good thing about Peter no matter what the race, he has the same amount of faith in me.”

The win was also a huge fillip for Moody’s Sydney forewoman Claire Cunningham, who has been a major player in the Melbourne-based trainer’s success in Sydney.

It is Moody’s first Group 1 winner in Sydney since Dissident won last year’s Randwick Guineas.


Spill thrills in Australian Cup quinella

It was a thrilling photo finish but the result didn’t matter for co-trainers David Hayes and Tom Dabernig who secured the quinella in Saturday’s $1 million Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington.

In the end it was the import Spillway who prevailed over the veteran Extra Zero by the narrowest of margins.

It provided Dabernig, who started training in partnership with his uncle Hayes at the beginning of the season, with his first Group 1 triumph.

“I’m very thankful to David and Prue Hayes for the opportunity and it really means a lot,” Dabernig said.

“Flemington is our home track and I was looking through the previous winners of the Australian Cup and have seen uncles and family members on the honour roll so for me to have trained one and to quinella the race is a huge thrill.

“I must admit I saw Spillway and I was pretty confident and I took my eyes off Extra Zero and it wasn’t until late that I saw him join in but full credit to Extra Zero who was gallant in defeat.”

The victory also provided Hayes with his first success at the highest level since Eagle Falls won the 2010 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) and jockey Michael Walker with his first Group 1 win in Victoria.

Hayes, who is a part-owner of both horses, said Spillway would now be aimed towards next month’s $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick while Extra Zero would head to the Mornington Cup (2400m) in a fortnight.

“It was the most comfortable photo I’ve ever been in,” Hayes said.

“Spillway’s build-up has been great every time he’s stepped up and it was a terrific ride by Michael. He got a Group 1 bollocking after the first race today for going too soon but he held his run, got there inside the clock tower and if he had gone a stride earlier he wouldn’t have won.

“I really had to argue with the syndicate of Extra Zero to run him because he’s flying and I thought he’d run the same race he always does at that level.”

After settling in a midfield position, once Walker angled Spillway ($13) to the outside in the straight he let down with an impressive finishing burst before holding on to defeat the fast-finishing Extra Zero ($101) by a nose, with Happy Trails ($4F) a further 1.25 lengths away in third.

Speaking after his 15th Group 1 victory and first in Australia since 2004, Walker said the whole team at Lindsay Park deserved the credit.

“It’s not for me, it’s for David and Tom, the owners and all of our staff,” Walker said.

“I actually said to Frosty (Damian Lane) after the line that I thought he’d won it but to my horse’s credit he got there and he deserved the win.”

The Australian Cup quinella capped a double for Hayes, Dabernig and Walker, who earlier combined to win the $200,000 Group 2 Kewney Stakes (1400m) with Wawail.

But Walker’s day was soured by an eight-meeting suspension for causing interference at the 200m aboard Wawail.


Million Dollar Yearling Gives Gai G1 Glory

If today’s results are anything to go by it is no surprise that Champion trainer Gai Waterhouse is a stalwart of the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale. Under the guidance of Gai, Easter graduates today too out a Group 1 at Flemington, and both a Group 1 and Listed race at Royal Randwick.

Off the back of a convincing win in the Group 3 VRC C S Hayes Stakes at Flemington last fortnight, Wandjina joins fellow Easter graduates Shamus Award, Mosheeen, Rock Classic, Miss Finland, Al Maher and Reset on the Group 1 VRC Australian Guineas honour roll.

A $1,000,000 purchase for James Harron Bloodstock on behalf of Dr Edmund & Belinda Bateman, Wandjina (Snitzel x La Bamba) saluted ahead of Alpine Eagle and Stratum Star to become the second Group 1 VRC Australian Guineas winner in as many years to be an Easter graduate by Champion sire Snitzel.

Today’s rider Brett Prebble was quick to credit Wandjina’s regular jockey Damien Oliver, commenting “Obviously Damien did all the work on him and he was unlucky he couldn’t get off his suspension but it was my gain,”

“He’s tough and he’s fit and Gai said `make your own luck, go the front on him’,” Prebble said.

The half-brother to Wandjina by Manhattan Rain is offered as Lot 8 from the draft of Arrowfield Stud at the 2015 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale.

Cummings colt proves he’s the benchmark

Bart and James Cummings’ brilliant colt Hallowed Crown has confirmed himself as the best three-year old in the country with an emphatic victory in the Girvan Waugh Randwick Guineas (1600m) on Saturday.

Hallowed Crown ($2.90), who has only tasted defeat once in his seven-start career, spotted Caulfield Guineas winner Shooting To Win a start at the top of the Randwick straight, but when called upon late by jockey Hugh Bowman, charged over the top to defeat Sweynesse ($3.90), with Shooting To Win ($2.60) finishing third.

The son of Street Sense is becoming the breakout horse for the Cummings partnership, having now won two Group 1 races.

Global racing giant Darley recently bought a half share, underlying his potential at stud.

But his racing career is the most immediate priority and he will head to the George Ryder Stakes in two weeks’ time en route to the $3 million Doncaster Mile on April 4.

James Cummings said he had called upon the advice of his famous grandfather, now a winner of 268 Group 1 races, in planning how Hallowed Crown would overcome a tricky inside barrier.

“I spoke to Bart in the past couple of days, and he said ‘just get him off the fence’. I said ’That’s not easy, he’s drawn one in a Group 1 race, but he said, ‘it’s a six-horse field, just get off the fence’.”

Bowman delivered to the request, allowing Shooting To Win to take up the pace before sitting up outside of him.

Blake Shinn on Shooting To Win put a margin between the two favoured runners early in the straight, but Bowman never panicked. His last 100m was ultra impressive as the leader was overwhelmed, allowing Sweynesse to get up along the rail for second.

“This bloke’s a winner, he proved it again today,” the jockey said.

Another star trainer, Gai Waterhouse, also tasted Group 1 success at Randwick with her four-year-old mare Cosmic Endeavour winning the Canterbury Stakes (1300m).