Waterhouse stablemates to clash
More Joyous earned trackwork bragging rights over Theseo on Tuesday to confirm a weight-for-age clash against her five-time Group One-winning stablemate.
“She (More Joyous) was my best of the morning,” trainer Gai Waterhouse told trackwork watchers at Randwick.
Working over 1200 metres on the Randwick dirt track, More Joyous ran 1:15.9, closing off with a 34.9-second 600-metre sectional and an impressive 11.2 seconds for the final 200 metres.
It was a gallop worthy of a genuine weight-for-age contender but Waterhouse held off making a decision to pit More Joyous against stable warhorse Theseo in Saturday’s George Main Stakes at Randwick until a lunchtime conference with Duncan Grimley, bloodstock manager for owner John Singleton.
The four-year-old was also entered for the Bill Ritchie Handicap but a 59.5kg impost all but forced Waterhouse’s hand to target the George Main – the second programming switch in as many weeks for the mare who is now firmly established as a crowd favourite.
Maligned for her fragility as a two and three-year-old, the 2010 spring version of More Joyous is a horse with a much more robust frame and she promises to keep her winning streak going deeper into the spring as she heads towards next month’s Cox Plate.
She is now almost certain to miss next week’s Epsom Handicap to have her final Cox Plate lead-up in another Group One mile race – the Toorak Handicap – on Caulfield Guineas day.
For Theseo, it was business as usual on the track.
In his typical no-nonsense manner, Theseo was sent over 1400 metres and ran his final 600 metres in 35.9 seconds, including an 11.6-seconds 200-metre sectional.
Theseo has won twice over the famous Randwick mile with a 2008 Epsom Handicap victory and a last-start win in the Chelmsford Stakes to his credit.
His only start in the George Main resulted in a close second to Mentality before claiming the Epsom Handicap a week later – the first of his Group One triumphs.
Another George Main contender, the imported galloper Snapy Halo, is primed to improve on Saturday as he heads towards an Epsom start, according to trainer John O’Shea.
Snapy Halo has sound overseas credentials as a weight-for-age Group One winner over 1600 metres when he raced in Argentina.
“I’m confident he’ll run a positive race on Saturday,” O’Shea said.
“Getting him back on top of the ground will be the key to him making enough improvement to say he’s on target for the Epsom.”
The Bart Cummings stable, meanwhile, has given lightly-raced three-year-old Cosmonaut the all clear to contest Saturday’s Dulcify Quality.
Cosmonaut looked sharp as he worked in blinkers after he was a race morning scratching from the Gloaming Stakes last Saturday because of minor soreness.
Comeback galloper Empires Choice will represent the stable in the George Main as Cummings chases his third win in the race and his first since Shaftesbury Avenue’s success in 1990.