By Tom Peacock in Australia
Winx out and Queen Anne comes in to focus:
Champion Australian mare Winx is finished for the season and will not run in Emirates Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.
At an impromptu press conference at Crown Casino on Friday afternoon trainer Chris Waller announced the news and when the expectant world gets to see her next is still up in the air.
“We have come up with the decision that we think it is time for her to have a break, she has done a great job, as you can see she means so much to all of us," Waller said.
"As she does to all of her fans and that is now something we are now considering.
"We see her importance in sport, we also see her importance as a horse.
"This has been her longest preparation, she has been fortunately successful in five starts.
"We think she is still going very well but we have never asked her for too much so we think now is the right time, based on her, her longevity and for all of you to continue to enjoy."
Whether Winx does indeed end up at Royal Ascot and the European summer is another decision that will be drip-fed through by the Waller camp at a later date.
Jockey Hugh Bowman toed the party line when appearing on the racing.com channel but was asked, as has been widely speculated, whether Winx would start off in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes over six furlongs rather than the mile of the Queen Anne.
“It’s a bit more of a testing 1200m than what we’re accustomed to, but it’s a long time since she’s raced over that distance,” he said, before adding: “I’d be surprised if he ran her over six furlongs at Ascot.”
Relief for Hugo Palmer:
It costs a lot to send a horse to the Emirates Melbourne Cup. The Victorian authorities do not help to soften the financial blow like some jurisdictions, and there are high entry fees not to mention the flight and accommodation. It is thought to cost six figures to get a horse to the starting gates from Britain.
So it will come as some relief to Hugo Palmer and connections of Wall Of Fire that they are now guaranteed a start with the defection of Godolphin’s Qewy.
The well-travelled four-year-old has already recouped some of the investment with an excellent second in the Herbert Power Stakes and is a best-pricd 12-1 with Sky Bet.
Wall Of Fire is not the easiest of customers who usually makes his way through from the back but quite a few experts Down Under seem keen on his chances.
Although last year’s Cup fourth Qewy had looked back on song with a win in this week’s Bendigo, trainer Charlie Appleby is erring on the side of caution.
“He knows he’s had a race, and I think the Cup will just come a bit soon for him,” Appleby told the Godolphin website. “It’s only six days between the two races.
“Hopefully we can consider another race for him in Melbourne this trip, provided he is back on top form.”
It is also looking more positive for Thomas Hobson, who was promoted to number 24 of 24 in the order of entry. You can still get 18-1 with bet365.
Willie Mullins’ contender would be in danger of the winner of Saturday’s Lexus Stakes jumping past him but the New Zealand horse, Jon Snow, who is high up in the weights, must pass the vets to be allowed to run due to a concern about his feet.
Carnival starts on Saturday:
The Spring Racing Carnival, which stretches across four days through this week, kicks off on Satuday with Victoria Derby Day. There are four Group Ones on what is regarded as the best card of the year in Australia.
After wins from the likes of Side Glance and Ruscello in recent years, disappointingly there are no British runners this time around and precious few recognisable names in action.
There were also no Australian sprinters at Royal Ascot in June, so perhaps the most interesting development would be a handsome victory for one of the promising three-year-olds in the Coolmore Stud Stakes, a race that has been a springboard for the likes of Brazen Beau and Sepoy.
Godolphin, who are not short of European sprinters with the likes of Harry Angel and Blue Point, have a strong hand headed by likely favourite Viridine. However, there seems a bit of a buzz about the David Hayes representative Catchy.
Every time I have seen racing this week, Peter Gelagotis has had a winner and the trainer is regarded as a bit of a shrewdie. His Illustrious Lad appeals in the finale, the Group Two TAB Multiplier Stakes.
Tiberian is a chance find:
Perhaps the lowest-key of the European challengers is Tiberian, whose trainer Alain Couteil has not been among the trainers doing endless rounds on the media circuit.
Tiberian, who has gone through the ranks at Deauville, is one of the most unusually bred horses you will find. His father, Tiberius Caesar, is a ‘teaser’ to help with the breeding process at the Haras du Logis stud and a visit to cover the mare Toamasina was something of a reward for his sterling efforts through the year.
The resulting colt impressed the stud’s management so much that he was sent into training and his father has been able to step off the substitutes’ bench, as it were.
Darren Dance, whose Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock invested in Tiberian, said: “His sire has only had three horses to race and two of them have won. I think last year he covered 18 mares.”
Tiberian is not on the stud’s stallion roster and the cost of using him is simply to send manager Julian Ince a few bottles of champagne.
“I think it was five dozen bottles but it’s now gone up to 10 dozen,” Dance said.