New Zealand’s Tofane (NZ) wins the final Group 1 of Sydney’s 2019/20 season

It was almost fitting that the Sydney Autumn Carnival and the final Group 1 of the 2019/20 season in the harbour city was brought to a close at Randwick last Saturday, April 18th, 2020, in dramatic fashion.

The close finish of the Group 1 All Aged Stakes with Tofane outside winning over Pierate inside, photo finish picture ATC
The close finish of the Group 1 All Aged Stakes with Tofane outside winning over Pierate inside, photo finish picture ATC

The New Zealand-bred Tofane (NZ), trained by ex-pat New Zealander Mike Moroney and ridden by New Zealand jockey Opie Bosson, won the A$480,000, WFA All Aged Stakes (1400m) with an enthralling last stride win over Pierata and Tommy Berry. The former duel Group 3 winner Tofane showed tenacity and strength to claim the win literally in the last stride.

The traditional Sydney six meetings of elite racing over the autumn were conducted without crowds as Covid-19 social distancing restrictions prevented racing patrons from attending both Rosehill and Randwick racetracks. Bosson was in Sydney from his home base of New Zealand while Melbourne Cup winning trainer Moroney was in Melbourne unable to travel to Sydney for the meeting.

Bosson had successfully ridden in earlier lead-up meetings including winning on Te Akau Shark (NZ) in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes over 1600m at Randwick back on February 29th. He had returned home to New Zealand in-between meetings mid-March and made a quick return to Sydney just before the 14 days of self-isolation rule was imposed on all travellers entering Australia.

The subsequent time away from his family was made worthwhile with the final season victory on Tofane.

Pierata and Berry had cornered with Tofane and Bosson outside in fourth and fifth sharing the middle of the track. Fasika and Brenton Avdulla were inside. The early leader White Moss was quickly left behind and the three were line astern at the 300m. By the 200m Pierata was leading and looked likely to win in his final race start before a stallion career.

However, Bosson’s Ocean Park mare had other ideas with her own breeding credentials more important. Tofane proceeded to claw back Pierata’s margin with every metre and just when there were no more to race over she had her nose in front.

They had left the rest behind with Pierata (Pierro) 2 1/2L ahead of Fasika (So You Think) and Avdulla keeping third. Super Seth came late for fourth.

The time was 1.21.63 on the Good 4 track with the final 600m in 36.51.

The win was Moroney’s second All Aged Stakes after Tivaci won in 2017. it was also his 51st Group 1 victory while it was Bosson’s 10th Australian Group 1 win and his 76th overall.

“We decided after her spring campaign that we would only target Group 1 races this autumn," said Moroney on the phone after the success.

“I told her owners she would get beaten in a few, but I know she will win one.

“This is a great result and we will put her away now and set her for The Everest in the spring.

“Opie has ridden on and off for me over the years back in New Zealand and even when we were winning premierships we did not have a lot of luck together.

“He does most of his riding for Te Akau Racing and we know he is a world-class jockey but this is our first Group 1 win together," he said.

“The draw helped her today, she got into a beautiful spot and followed the horse to beat. It was a real dog fight down the straight,” said Bosson.

“I was not sure if I won or not, I did not find out until I saw the screen when I got back.

“I go back on Tuesday (April 21st) and then we have to have a bit of a discussion to see whether we move the family back to Australia or not, I have got a few things to sort out first,” he said.

Tofane, by Ocean Park out of the Galileo mare Baggy Green, was winning for the fifth time from 14 starts and with three placings her earnings are now A$803,220.