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