Sydney was the focus of Australian racing over the past six weeks with international winners, international winning owners and performances that trainers are hoping will allow them to take on the international stage.
In its second year the two days of The Championships at Randwick established its position on the international stage with four high quality runners from Japan, Real Impact (JPN), Tosen Stardom (JPN), To The World (JPN) and World Ace (JPN) competing along with Hong Kong representative Dominant (IRE) and the highest stake earner in British racing history Red Cadeaux (GB).
International success was immediate for the visitors earlier in the carnival when Hori’s Real Impact (JPN) came out and won the Group 1 WFA George Ryder Stakes over 1500m at Rosehill on March 28th under Sydney’s current champion jockey James McDonald.
Real Impact, who had not raced since winning the Group 2 Hanshin Cup over 1400m on December 27th, narrowly beat Criterion (NZ) with three-year-old Kermadec (NZ) third.
The quality of the win was franked when Criterion won the Group 1 WFA Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2000m at Randwick on April 11th and Kermadec the Group 1 Doncaster Mile over 1600m on the same course five days earlier.
“Criterion who had run third to Designs on Rome and Military Attack in the 2014 Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup was a dominant winner of the Queen Elizabeth,” said Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria Executive General Manager – Racing.
In the previous two editions of this race French Derby winner Reliable Man (GB) and ATC Derby winner Dundeel (NZ) had triumphed with both running to a mark of 122. Like Dundeel, Criterion had won the ATC Australian Derby 12 months earlier.
“Criterion has provisionally been given a rating of 121 for his 2.5 length win over the grand warrior Red Cadeaux (116) and both these horses are now in Hong Kong for the Group 1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday,” said Carpenter.
Criterion has also been nominated for feature races during the Royal Ascot week as he continues to forge a reputation as a genuine Group 1 performer on the international stage.
The feature sprint race of The Championships loomed as a rematch of the three highest rated sprinters of 2014, Lankan Rupee, Terravista and Chautauqua, but with the first two running below expectations on the heavy Randwick track it was left to Chautauqua to run down the talented Lord of the Sky.
“While victory gave Chautauqua his much sought after first Group 1 win, his winning performance will be well below his 2014 mark of 122 from the Darley Classic,” reports Carpenter.
On the back of his T J Smith win Chautauqua was installed as favourite for the Group 1 All Aged Stakes at Randwick on April 18th, the final Group 1 of the Sydney season.
He suffered early interference and although running home strongly could not reel in outstanding three-year-old Wandjina who led, and the winner Dissident who was up on the speed and proved too strong for the courageous Wandjina.
Leading to the race it had been announced Dissident would be making his final racetrack appearance before taking up stud duties. It was a brilliant victory for the four-year-old who retires as a five time winner at Group 1 level. He was 121 in the 2014 WBRR and won the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes earlier in 2015.
While not running to his career high mark of 121 Dissident defeated a field that included nine Group 1 winners.
Wandjina who had won the Group 1 Australian Guineas over 1600m at Flemington at his previous start produced a world class performance in defeat and he too now heads to Royal Ascot for the Group 1 Golden Jubilee (1200m) in June.
In the Doncaster Mile Kermadec, with the handicap advantage, emerged from the field to win running away from Real Impact with Royal Descent in third.
“Kermadec, with jockey Glen Boss carrying 1kg overweight, will return a performance rating of about 118 from the race, with Real Impact running to a similar mark of 118 in both his All Aged win and Doncaster performance,” said Carpenter.
The international element of the autumn was once again on display with Godolphin’s plan to send promising Group horses from Europe to Australia for their trainer John O'Shea to prepare a spectacular success.
Their results during Sydney’s autumn have been stunning with High Chaparral five-year-old Contributer (IRE) winning both the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) and Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Group 1 level.
Hartnell (GB), a four-year-old by Authorized previously trained by Mark Johnston in the UK, emerged a deserved winner of the Group 1 The BMW over 2400m. He beat To the World who was 120 in the 2014 WBRR for his second place in the Arima Kinen behind Gentildonna, where he beat Gold Ship, Just a Way and Ephiphaneia.
“Both Contributer and Hartnell have provisional marks of 117 for their efforts in the Ranvet and BMW respectively and will carry Godolphin's hopes into the Melbourne Spring Carnival later in the year,” said Carpenter.
Further international success in Sydney came when Mongolian Khan, trained at Cambridge by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, and owned by Mr Lang Lin's Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Group, completed a Derby double by winning the Group 1 ATC Australian Derby over 2400m to go with his earlier success in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland in February.
Macau based international owner Mr CC Lai had a unique day when two of his Sydney based horses in the Chris Waller stable won Group races on Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day, April 11th.
First Delectation won the Group 2 Arrowfield Sprint over 1200m for three-year-olds and second Grand Marshal (GB) won the Group 1 Sydney Cup over 3200m under the experienced jockey Jim Cassidy.
The 2015 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale was held at their Newmarket sale complex in Sydney between the two days of The Championships racedays at Randwick with three days of selling pushing Session I statistics to seven year highs from international and domestic investment in the Australian breeding and racing industry
352 yearlings from Session I were sold at an average of $290,881 and median of $200,000, all at a clearance rate of 83%, with the gross of over $100 million. 57 lots by 18 different sires were sold for $500,000 or more, well up on the 37 lots recorded at the 2014 Easter Sale.
International investment was seen from Shadwell Stud as the busiest individual buyer for the third consecutive year, purchasing 19 Lots for a total outlay of $6,615,000 across the three days of selling.
While Shadwell were the leading individual buyer, the China Horse Club bought 21 horses with various partners for $9,125,000, and Randwick trainer Gai Waterhouse signed for 23 yearlings for $6,545,000 in conjunction with different Australian and international entities.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum purchased four lots for $5,015,000, while other buyers to spend $2,000,000 or more were Coolmore Australia, James Harron Bloodstock, Asian Bloodstock Services, George Moore Bloodstock, Vinery Stud, John Foote Bloodstock, Hong Kong Jockey Club and Rosehill based Hawkes Racing.