All Too Hard strengthened his already vice-like grip on next week’s Australian Guineas with a scintillating win in today’s Cathay Pacific Futurity Stakes at Caulfield.
The superstar colt, who was recently purchased by breeding giant Vinery Stud, made it two 1400-metre weight-for-age Group 1 wins in as many starts this campaign when he defeated Glass Harmonium and King Mufhasa in the $500,000 event.
It followed victory in the C.F. Orr Stakes on 9 February and was precisely what Wayne Hawkes, who co-trains All Too Hard with his father John and brother Michael, wanted to see a week out from his Melbourne Festival of Racing goal.
“It was a bit more fun today because we got the monkey off the back with the new owners last start, so it was quite enjoyable.
“It’s all right to be cocky when you know you’ve got the best horse but they can still get beaten and you like them to win.
“The Guineas looks the obvious option and he’ll be 99 percent of running but obviously we’re going to wait and see how he licks the bin and how he is in the next 48 hours.”
The son of Casino Prince and glamour broodmare Helsinge stepped into rarefied territory with the win, which took his record in Victoria to five wins from six starts with the only defeat a Cox Plate second placing.
It is the 16thtime the Orr-Futurity double has been completed, but he is the first horse since Hall of Famer Manikato – who did the double three times – to do it the year after winning the Caulfield Guineas.
“I wouldn’t put him in Manikato’s class just yet, but he’s working on it,” Hawkes said.
All Too Hard’s Futurity win was even more impressive than his soft Orr Stakes success. After jumping the best he has in his career, jockey Dwayne Dunn restrained the $1.90 favourite to find a position fifth one off the fence before letting him edge into the race rounding the home turn.
He accelerated impressively when asked by Dunn at the 300m and quickly put the race beyond doubt before careering away to score by 3-1/4 lengths.
Glass Harmonium ($18), who was also on his best behaviour at the start, poked home along the fence to grab second placing, a head in advance of last year’s winner’s King Mufhasa ($5.50).
Green Moon ($6), who was having his first start since winning last year’s Melbourne Cup, proved his Australian Cup campaign is firmly on track with a fine fourth placing.
Jockey Dwayne Dunn said he deliberately asked a bit of the horse he described as potentially the best he had ridden before he had won the first of his three Group 1s with the Guineas in mind next week.
“I wanted to open him up a little bit because he’s got to come back next week, if that is the plan, so he has a big mission ahead of him,” he said. “We wanted to see what’s there and we don’t want to be left with any stone unturned come the final.
“I put a label on him early and said he was one of the best I’ve ridden. I’ve been waiting 20 years to find something like this and it’s finally coming to fruition.”
All Too Hard’s win completed a winning treble for Dunn, who started the day with victory aboard the Dean Howard-trained Grand Emperor in the Premier Signs Plate and later scored aboard Foreteller in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes.
Story by Brad Bishop