Wu Gok is a $2.60 favourite for the feature Winter Cup at Rosehill on Saturday.

Waller and Sydney crop on right track as Rosehill outshines Brisbane

June 12th 2020

Track conditions are the major considerations on the eastern seaboard today with the saturated Rosehill Gardens having the most appeal on the score of jockey talent plus Chris Waller posing two intriguing possibilities.

It may be carnival time in Brisbane but the turf there is under siege like never before and took another hit on the Stradbroke program last Saturday.

Down south at Mooney Valley today the surface has been described as “80 per cent right” after renovations so what eventuates after five or six races is anybody’s guess.

Yes, Rosehill will be heavy but horse players can be assured the rough passage will be handled by astute navigators.

The Eagle Farm ground last Saturday was regarded as concrete rather than grass: too hard following a period of dissatisfaction with the surface while the Stradbroke was the scene of whip abuse by South African veteran Robbie Fradd on Tyzone, the winner by 0.2 lengths.

Fradd was later fined $500 for breach of the rule prior to the 100 metres. While the number of strikes wasn’t recorded in the stewards’ report it’s surprising a protest didn’t eventuate on the grounds of an unfair advantage on a margin so minor. Being a group 1 race, the penalty seemed light although the prize money chop to $203,000 to the winner probably necessitated leniency.

Good, bad and ugly rides even from champion jockeys are always a possibility but with restrictions due to COVID-19 Brisbane hardly has a vintage group currently which makes Rosehill so appealing with the benefit of Hugh Bowman, James McDonald, Kerrin McEvoy, Nash Rawiller, and Glen Boss, hotly pursued by Brenton Avdulla, Tim Clark, Tom Berry, and Rachel King, with others on the verge of the category.

The best ride will win the Winter Cup (2400 metres) promising another epic example of Wallerism, the mass representation for the trainer with five out of the eight in the field yesterday while at Eagle Farm he had seven out of the 12 acceptors in the Tattersall’s Cup over the same journey.

Again this monopoly is unique in Australian turf history. Long ago I claimed a world record for Waller’s longer-priced candidates beating shorter-priced stablemates.

Today’s Rosehill staying test lacks a known pacemaker. We wait with bated breath for official tactic changes to see whether a sacrificial lamb puts speed into the race. Surely Bowman (The Lord Mayor), McDonald (Yulong Prince) and Rawiller (Carzoff) will be left to their own devices and not be under the influence of riding instructions formulated by stable map-makers.

Waller’s Wu Gok ($20), under Adam Hyeronimus, beat a herd of generally shorter-priced stablemates last start in the Lord Mayors Cup over the wet 2000m at Rosehill two weeks back at his first start after a spell, a feat rarely achieved at the journey. Carrying the “mudlark” tag the gelding has to extend another 400 metres today humping three more kilos to 59.5kg. He was $2.60 favourite yesterday, under the odds for mine.

Maybe Waller doesn’t have the same influence with two-year-olds but gets excellent results cuddling late-season youngsters with Captivare, purchased for $1.4 million as a yearling, promising to be an example having his first race in the opener.

Captivare has been educated in three recent barrier trials by Bowman, who handles the more experienced Andermatt for James Cummings against him while Boss pilots the Waller youngster.

Only Bowman knows how good Captivare is going: he extended briefly on him in a couple of trials and what he felt is the answer. On trials another two-year-old, Oh Say, making her debut against him is faster.

What makes a young horse bring so much money while Rothfire, impressive scoring in the JJ Atkins at Eagle Farm last Saturday, was picked up for only $10,000? Captivare could answer the question today.

-Max Presnell, The Sydney Morning Herald