Class and consistency and a step up in distance combine to give Osborne Bulls the opportunity to add a well-deserved G1 to his record in Saturday’s G1 All-Aged Stakes at Randwick.
The All Aged is the final G1 race of the autumn in Sydney and while it won’t be Osborne Bulls’ (Hugh Bowman) last chance to win at the elite level, his three G1 second placings from his past three starts suggest he is capable of making it his first.
The son of Street Cry flashed home behind In Her Time in the G1 Lightning Stakes, did the same against Sunlight in the G1 Newmarket and then found himself in the wrong part of the track when runner-up to Santa Ana Lane in the G1 TJ Smith Stakes two weeks ago.
Acknowledging that his horse had been beaten by top-class sprinters in each race, trainer James Cummings said Osborne Bulls had nevertheless run well enough to be considered a worthy member of the top bracket, despite regarding the horse as an out-and-out sprinter, he said the 1,400m holds no fears.
“You can’t be unhappy with his form in shorter races this time in and he’s had three starts at 1,400m, including the G1 Sir Rupert Clarke, and he’s won at this trip,” Cummings said.
“In my mind he’s a six-furlong horse who I’m pushing out to seven furlongs.”
Neither is Cummings concerned over the going for Saturday’s race or the horse’s condition.
“It’s fair to say he’s won more races on the dry, but more prizemoney on the wet,” he said.
“I think he might be fractionally better again this week than when he went into the TJ Smith and I believe he looks well-placed in a race that has been won by some very good G1 sprinters, including some of its recent winners, so there’s every reason to think he’ll run well.”
Osborne Bulls will be accompanied in the All Aged Stakes by the Charlie Appleby-trained D’bai (Kerrin McEvoy) whose appearance is reminiscent of that of his stablemate Jungle Cat who won the G1 Rupert Clarke on his Australian debut at Caulfield last spring.
The winner of six of his 24 starts, D’bai is a last-start winner in G2 company when first-up at Meydan having been placed in good quality G2 races at Newmarket and Doncaster before that.
Having taken advantage of the comparative abundance of 1,400m Stakes races in Australia, Appleby has a good insight into what it takes to win one at G1 level in this country.
“At six furlongs he is competitive at Stakes level, but not at the top level,” he said.
“There are some nice options for him over that trip in Australia, but we don’t have such an array of those races here in Europe.
“The reason for coming is the race is the right trip and the race style will suit him.”
Zakouski could take a big leap in class after he featured among 20 entries for Wednesday’s Craven Stakes at Newmarket.
The Charlie Appleby-trained colt beat the well-touted Headman on his only juvenile start on the all-weather in November and is the general third-favourite for next month’s Qipco 2000 Guineas back at Headquarters.
Appleby said: “We will go for a trial and whether that is the Craven or the seven-furlong conditions race they have at the Craven meeting, I’m not sure.
“He has wintered well, but he has completely different profile to (Breeders’ Cup winner) Line Of Duty in that he has only had one run and is completely inexperienced.
“A lot of water needs to go under the bridge before he is a Group horse. He is doing everything asked of him.
“We’ve put him in the Guineas for a reason, but he has got to turn up in a trial first.
“I can’t fault him and he is pleasing us what we are seeing, but he has got to test his mettle now in a trial.”
Zakouski is not the only Godolphin-owned contender, with Saeed bin Suroor’s Group One winner Royal Marine also entered despite disappointing outing at Meydan in January.
Aidan O’Brien has the option of running Vertem Futurity Trophy third Western Australia, while his son Joseph has entered No Needs Never, a Dundalk Listed winner last year.
Winx is all set for her anticipated swansong in the Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes this weekend, despite providing a touch of pre-race drama after her final gallop.
Chris Waller’s all-conquering mare will bid for her 33rd successive victory – and 25th Group One – when she runs in what is expected to be the last race of her record-breaking career at Randwick on Saturday.
The seven-year-old pride of Australia caused connections brief consternation, though, when she kicked out at railings – leaving a hole in an advertising sign – after her Rosehill track exercise on Thursday.
She then had to be cleared by veterinary checks, and a statement was later posted on the Racing New South Wales website – allaying any fears of injury.
It read: “Racing NSW official veterinarian Dr James Mizzi and stable veterinarian Dr Ross Alexander this morning conducted a detailed lameness examination of Winx following the mare kicking out in the mounting enclosure at Rosehill Gardens and her hind legs making contact with a sponsor sign attached to a gate.
“Dr Mizzi & Dr Alexander have reported that Winx was free in her action and no abnormalities were detected. As a result the mare has been passed fit to start in Saturday’s Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes.”
It was a moment of concern her trainer could happily have done without, but Waller believes Winx’s behaviour also proves her well-being.
He said: “As you can see, she’s a horse – they’re unpredictable – but she’s very well, very fresh, very bright, ready to go.
“Obviously it’s a big morning with a lot of cameras and people everywhere – and they can get a bit fresh from time to time.
“She’s certainly ready to explode is probably the better word of this morning.”
Waller had taken Winx’s earmuffs off after her gallop, under regular big-race jockey Hugh Bowman – a move that might have contributed to her fractious manoeuvre in front of a large media contingent in Sydney.
“I shouldn’t have taken the earmuffs off this morning,” he said.
“I just wanted to take them off so you could all see her without the earphones. But as soon as I did, she could hear the clicking and the clacking – so I probably shouldn’t have done that.
“I was just trying to do the right thing by everybody to see her for what she actually is, behind the mask so to speak. As you saw, she’s very fresh – but she’s safe and ready to go.”
Looking forward to Saturday’s race, he added: “Hopefully it’s a fairytale ending.”
Provided by Press Association Sport