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