Gai Waterhouse Diary (4/11)
On Tuesday on the course proper, Tania was not happy with Upon This Rock's work which appeared quite sluggish and not quite switched on. Young horses can often get a bit lost when having their first or second gallops on this course. I was not too concerned as I knew this filly had been pleasing the jockeys over the past two weeks. This morning she was much sharper and all thumbs were pointing to heaven. She contests the 3YO Fillies Benchmark 75 over 1400m at Randwick on Saturday, and with Blake Spriggs' claim she should be extremely hard to beat.
Upon This Rock is a Magic Millions filly purchased by bloodstock extraordinaire James Bester for owners Laurie and Christine Macrie. She is by the boom sire Fastnet Rock who certainly stamps his progeny well. They are always well grown, have great bone structure, good size and excellent disposition. Everything a trainer looks for in a neck line.
Also racing at Randwick on Saturday is a lovely 2YO filly called Cyclone Stacey. Her gorgeous breeders Carol and Bob Marshall, I have known for many years. They bought their attractive Encosta de Lago filly to this years Easter sale expecting to get good money, but she was passed in. Their nephew approached Rob and I and asked if I was interested. We discussed price and I explained that I did not have an owner at the point for such a filly. After a few minutes of negotiating the dollars and cents and they retaining twenty-five percent the filly came into Tulloch Lodge. She had a preparation, I liked what I saw, then out to the paddock she went and upon returning she has not looked back. She has now found mummies and daddies to love her and own her.
King Lionheart continues to please and will trial at Randwick on November 12. He is on the comeback trail and should be up and racing by mid December. He is a lovely gelding who has always shown great ability.
A big, goofy fellow is resuming on Saturday at Newcastle. His name is King's Admiral and being a stayer he is a bit dopey. Many of his owners have wanted to get out of him, but I have convinced them to wait knowing he is by Cape Cross. I was told his work this morning was great and he contests the C & G Maiden at Newcastle over 1400m.
Samui Lad was extremely impressive when he won last Saturday with Blake Spriggs. The owners have won medals for their patience and I was so pleased they were rewarded by his convincing victory. He worked super this morning and is down to contest either the Benchmark 80 over 1800m or the Benchmark 75 over 1500m both at Rosehill on November 13.
Smart Choice has consistently worked well since his trial ten days ago. Stacey Rawiller returns to Tulloch Lodge to ride for me and she will partner this big, lanky gelding on Saturday at Newcastle.
Today is Oaks day at Flemington. Light overnight rain has stopped the track from drying out. Mick Goodey, course curator says it seems to be even at this point. We have not had any dry days for the past week so it must be a nightmare for any course curator trying to get the best ground. I am a great advocate of grass as I like a natural surface for a horse. Even if it is slightly biased due to rain and wear and tear, I think that if the jockeys find their mouth and choose the best going they are successful. I can completely understand in very wet conditions that maybe an alternative has to be found, as Mark Kavanagh said to me a while back, several meetings would have been lost last winter at Geelong if the all weather surface wasn't in place.
With the proposed millions coming into racing due to the merger, I think the one thing both clubs should be using it for is increasing membership. I think the VRC has approximately 28 000 members and I am sure the AJC has nothing like that. People have to want to come to the races. When Brian Beattie took over as CEO of Flemington a decade ago, the facilities were not what they are today. But he had one thing in mind, to increase quality and membership, and boy did he do a good job. Whoever becomes CEO after the merger, this should be their brief. Patrons must feel the product is sellable and they have to want to be there. I don't think this happens at all with our clubs and it certainly should be addressed.
The carnival is over for the Waterhouse stable. Our last runners contested the Melbourne Cup, the Mares race and the 1800m Listed race on Tuesday. The likes of Swift Alliance, Devils Arcade and Rock Kingdom return tomorrow to Randwick. The Cup runners and Metropolitan runner Herculian Prince leave tomorrow for Cootamundra. It has been a most exhilarating and exciting time. Two Group One's and one second in Saturdays Group One Mackinnon are to the horse's credit. Melbourne this time of year is very full on and training horses is nothing like training yourself. It is an endurance test and if you do not have the stamina and pace and place yourself right you could easily fall in a heap.
I look forward to going home. You cannot beat your own bed and familiar surroundings. I love Melbourne and the warm feel I get from everyone, the challenge of the races and just the pace, it is so exciting. Autumn is our next onslaught and it won't be long before we are back again. The next few days I will spend at the races for Oaks day today and Emirates day on Saturday. I am off tomorrow to visit Peter Carrick's Grange Thoroughbreds. I love the opportunity to get around and see horses in the paddock. I have said it before but I really mean it. Rob departs tomorrow for New York to run in the marathon. I feel for him as he has worked so hard for this. He has certainly trimmed up in condition though the hematoma has slowed down his last two weeks of training considerably. Physiotherapy sessions in the pool to keep his fitness level up show he is very committed, like everything he does he does it to perfection. He is my greatest task master and I am glad he is. I wouldn't be the woman I am if not for him.
Anyone who could be disappointed with So You Think departing our shores for the Northern Hemisphere should only be delighted. What a wonderful thing for the Southern Hemisphere breeding industry. We already have the sire High Chaparral standing at Coolmore Australia. It is essential that the Northern Hemisphere can see that we are not just breeders of speedy squibs. At this point in time everyone from America to Japan to Europe think that we can only breed sprinters.
So You Think will be our flag bearer in the Northern Hemisphere. He is the dominant horse currently racing in Australia. He is big and he is handsome and he has the right credentials.
Aiden O'Brien has a task to enhance on Bart Cummings record of 5 Group 1 wins with the entire but there won't be anyone better equipped to do this than Aiden as he has shown with Haradasun and Starspangledbanner.
Think positive Australian breeders and racegoers. Let's hold our heads high when this champion of the turf graces the Northern Hemisphere with his presence.
Happy Racing, speak tomorrow.