The Golden Rose has almost become the pinnacle of three-year-old racing in Australia over the last decade, a position that used to be the sole domain of the Caulfield Guineas. The Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington on Derby Day is the other contender.
Often, a Golden Rose field can be small but select. This year it is a race that is almost at capacity, which reflects a generation of horses that have been seen as an even bunch since we first saw them race almost 12 months ago.
The lack of standout quality was added to by the fact that Sydney saw such a wet autumn. How many juveniles, while still learning their craft, didn’t handle so many wet tracks, or had their confidence dented? There are many unknowns.
What is known, is that In Secret is a smart filly, and she’ll be trying to claim the first Golden Rose at Group 1 level for her sex.
She resumed by finishing second, splitting Zougotcha and North Star Lass, in the Silver Shadow. Those two horses have both since won, while In Secret took out the Run to the Rose, such a key pointer, in stylish fashion.
Second, third and fourth in the Run to the Rose aren’t here, so the nearest rival from that day is Fireburn, who finished four lengths in arrears. It’s a big margin to turn around, let alone those that finished behind even her.
So, where is the challenge going to come from?
It could well be at home, from within her stable. Golden Mile is the second pick in the market, coming off a big win in the Ming Dynasty on the same day as the Run to the Rose. His first-up run behind Kibou, since gone amiss, was the eye-catcher of the race, and his form is no fluke.
Similar to In Secret, it’s hard to make a case for anything to turn to the tables on Golden Mile from the Ming Dynasty.
These two Godolphin horses only had three starts between them in the autumn, so they are very much the fresh horses on the scene.
The Furious Stakes is a race for fillies that always stands up, and we see She’s Extreme and Paris Dior coming through that race. Although beaten over three lengths, She’s Extreme worked home very well on the day that played to on-pacers. A wet track is hugely in her favour, and she can certainly have an impact with that run under her belt.
Then we have the Victorians.
Jacquinot had plenty of precocious talent as a juvenile, and did well to storm home for third and sixth in the Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper respectively. His first-up win in the McNeil Stakes at Caulfield was instructive – it showed he had potentially fixed his barrier manners, but also that he had matured as a racehorse.
He gave Aft Cabin windburn in the straight that day, and that horse is now $3 favourite for the Caulfield Guineas after his runaway win last Saturday. He has to be a player.
Fast Witness and Millane don’t have the credentials of Jacquinot, but are consistent types that always run well. They appear to have a few lengths to make up in order to threaten the winners stall. Daumier was the Blue Diamond winner, but was hopeless first-up and you’d need to see him again before backing him.
There isn’t a huge amount of natural speed in the race, but the Golden Rose is usually high pressure and the size of field should ensure that at least.
She’s Extreme could be the forgotten horse, and Tommy Berry can have her camped close to the lead, if not take it up outright, just as he did when winning the Champagne Stakes on her in April.
James McDonald on In Secret will not be far away from his low draw, while Sam Clipperton on Golden Mile will likely want to be a pair back from them and eyeing off a nice trail, and Damien Lane will hope to be midfield or just off, ready to pounce.
The winner should come from those four.
Selections: 1.She’s Extreme 2.Jacquinot 3.In Secret 4.Golden Mile
The Golden Pendant for mares over 1400m is the main support feature, and we have a horse that has the biggest question mark on her of any running this weekend.
Espiona hadn’t even made her debut this time last year, but when you win a Listed race at Flemington in Cup week, let alone by near seven lengths at only your second start, people are going to set their expectations high. Thus far, she hasn’t lived up to them.
Espiona was very plain first-up in the Sheraco when jumping at $2.70, but gets a chance to redeem herself today. She was hanging out there, and good judges were suggesting she needs to go the Melbourne way again, but she stays in Sydney and with no gear change either.
It’s no mug field she’s up against either.
Nimalee won the Queen of the Turf in the autumn carnival, and was within two lengths of Zaaki first-up. Startantes won the Tatt’s Tiara in June and pleased closing splits first-up in the Sheraco. Jamaea is knocking on the door against good horses and is ready to win again, but likes a good track.
The likes of Expat and Mirra Vision are always capable of winning a race in this grade, if things pan out for them. The Queenslander Palaisipan is still improving and has great form in the right races, while Electric Girl appears to be back to her best.
Selections: 1.Startantes 2.Nimalee 3.Espiona 4.Expat
The Shannon Stakes can be something of a last-chance saloon for the Epsom Handicap hopefuls, or used as a final tune-up for those that want to go in hard-fit on the quick back-up.
Ellsberg is always hard to beat around this distance range on soft ground, although was a bit basic first-up in the Theo Marks. He gets another chance.
Some of Ellsberg’s rivals have been around the block a few times, and aren’t going to be getting much better, and that Theo Marks was a blanket finish with two lengths covering eight of them. Atishu is the other one you want to follow from that, she just never runs poorly.
Perhaps there’s another formline?
Old Flame is lightly raced and ready to step up and get some black type. Purple Sector franked his form last week behind the highly credentialed Top Ranked. War Eternal backs up from last week, plummets in weight and is one to be wary of.
Selections: 1.Old Flame 2.Ellsberg 3.Atishu 4.War Eternal