Gallant Criterion 5th at Royal Ascot

Criterion will likely head back to Australia and be aimed towards the Cox Plate after finishing unplaced in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on Thursday morning (AEST).

Though he was beaten, the four-year-old was far from disgraced finishing in fifth position behind the winner Free Eagle.

Trainer David Hayes, who prepares the son of Sebring in partnership with his nephew Tom Dabernig, said Criterion raced a little bit fresh during the run and it probably cost him running a place.

“Chad (Schofield) said he was throwing his head a little bit but I thought it was a good even run and he was courageous,” Hayes said.

“I was very happy with Chad’s ride, he gave him every chance from the awkward barrier.

“We’ll probably give the horse a break over here in the summer and then send him home and hopefully head towards the Cox Plate.

“We might ask Racing Victoria if they could potentially open the quarantine centre for him in August.”

After settling in the box seat for Schofield, Criterion appeared to be struggling at the top of the straight but he rallied strongly over the final furlong to hold fifth position.

In a thrilling finish, the lightly-raced Irish four-year-old Free Eagle narrowly defeated The Grey Gatsby in a photo, with a gap to Western Hymn in third.

Free Eagle’s victory was a testament to his dual Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Dermot Weld’s ability, as the son of High Chaparral was only having his fifth career start.

Both Free Eagle and The Grey Gatsby hold invitations for this year’s Cox Plate, as does the OTI Racing-owned Gailo Chop, who finished narrowly behind Criterion in sixth.


Winx Wonderful in Oaks Demolition

Super filly Winx had the favourite punters cheering and her connections celebrating when she scored a runaway win in today’s Group One Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Doomben.

In the second half of the field for much of the race, Winx came with a strong run to reel in the leaders and then race away for a three and a half length demolition of her rivals.

The filly was sent out the warm favourite after a stunning last to first win in the Group Three Sunshine Coast Guineas at Caloundra on May 16. A start earlier she made up a heap of ground when second in the AJC Oaks.

“The pressure is on when your have the favourite in a big race,” Waller told reporters. “She’s got class and a turn of foot. To have that extra gear or two certainly makes a difference.”

“Good horses make things look easy. She was very dominant,” Waller added.

The win was the fourth at group level in just 12 starts, from six overall, for the gorgeous filly. Her earnings have soared past $1 million with her Oaks triumph.

Winx was bred by the Camilleri family’s Fairway Thoroughbreds – the same breeders of champion juvenile colt Vancouver. He was raised at Coolmore Stud and sold through their draft at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for $230,000.

She is by Street Cry – sire of Aussie based stars including Shocking, Whobegotyou, Pride of Dubai and Long John as well as international champions Zenyatta and Street Sense among 89 stakes winners.

Winx’s dam Vegas Showgirl, a daughter of Al Akbar, won two races at two and trained on to win seven, including two at stakes level before being retired to stud. Winx is one of her two named foals and first runner.

Vegas Showgirl was purchased by leading bloodstock Colm Santry on behalf of Fairway at the 2008 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale from the draft of Dormello Stud for $455,000.

A winner on the Sunshine Coast during a career which netted black type in Sydney when second in a Sheraco Stakes, Vegas Showgirl is a half sister to the stakes performer Black Magic Maggie.

Boban Brilliant at Doomben

Star galloper Boban won a fourth Group One when he won Saturday’s Doomben 10,000 capping a massive day for Magic Millions graduates.

The quality sprinter-miler returned to his brilliant best to lead home fellow Gold Coast Yearling Sale graduate Charlie Boy in the feature – one of five stakes wins on the card for Magic Millions products.

Boban showed a blistering turn of foot in the straight to come from the tail of the field, between runners and on to victory in a driving finish over Charlie Boy and Generalife.

An emotional trainer Chris Waller said it was great to see the gelding back to his best declaring him a “serious horse.”

Boban was first up in the $750,000 feature and looked to be on track for the assignment with an eye catching trial win at Warwick Farm on May 11.

The win was the 10th for Boban from just 31 starts. With four Group One wins his earnings have raced to a lofty $2,140,163 – not bad considering he cost $100,000 at the 2011 Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

Bred by Tony Thomas of Greendale Lodge, Boban was sold through the Millbrook draft and purchased for connections by BBA Ireland. He is a son of A.P. Indy’s Preakness Stakes winning son Bernardini.

Another of Bernardini’s headline performers in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand champion Ruud Awakening, will go under the hammer on Wednesday at the National Broodmare Sale.

Boban is one of six winners produced by the former outstanding Kenmare mare Kenbelle – a winner of the Group One AJC Australian Oaks and Group Two Queen of the Turf Stakes. She in turn is a half sister to three stakes performers.

American Pharoah lands US Triple Crown

One of racing’s biggest droughts has been broken with American Pharoah becoming the first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown in the USA.

American Pharoah raced into history with a dominant all-the-way victory in the Belmont Stakes on Sunday morning in front of a capacity crowd of 90,000.

The three-year-old colt is the 12th winner of the Triple Crown series – the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes – and the first since Affirmed in 1978.

After being named champion two-year-old, American Pharoah had all of his rivals covered, getting home by five and a half lengths to record his seventh straight victory.

For trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza, it’s the pinnacle of their careers after enduring previous close shaves in the series.

This was Baffert’s fourth Triple Crown try, having fallen short in 1997, 1998 and 2002 while Espinoza had won the first two legs in 2002 and last year with California Chrome.

“I still can’t believe it happened,” Baffert said.

“I couldn’t be happier.”

Despite the challenge in front of him, Espinoza revealed he was bullish about his chances.

“I come here with a lot of confidence – more confidence than anywhere,” Espinoza said.

“This time I had so much confidence in American Pharoah.

“That trophy caused me a lot of stress. But the third time is the charm.”

American Pharoah joined the ranks of Triple Crown winners Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed.