The feature event at Royal Randwick today, the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes, was taken out in stunning fashion by Gai Waterhouse‘s Hampton Court.
In second place was favourite First Seal, followed by Sweynesse. Prior to the race, Hampton Court was paying $17 on the fourth line of betting. First Seal and Sweynesse were at $2.15 and $2.90 respectively.
First Seal jumped very well and Jason Collett seemed intent on taking the filly to the front of the field. Tye Angland immediately cut Panzer Division sideways in a mad charge to the front of the pack in an endeavour to close off the race with serious pace early on.
Pounamu settled back a bit with a well-paced Hampton Court just in front. Panzer Division was able to get to the fore and lead early after the field had settled.
First Seal found a comfortable position about three off the lead and Blake Shinn tucked Sweynesse in just behind.
Panzer Division maintained his lead with Valentia and Press Report not far off. Then came First Seal Sweynesse with Pounamu quickly pushing up to be involved in the forward runners.
Drum Roll brought up the rear of the field and Hampton Court maintained his position at second last.
Throughout the entire race, Tye Angland ensured that Panzer Division really set the pace, no doubt hoping to shave off some finishing skills of the other runners.
At the turn Blake Shinn put the whip into Sweynesse, who responded well and began to lift. First Seal similarly began her charge, sticking close to Sweynesse in what would be an excitingly tight competition right to the post.
Unfortunately it was all for naught as Josh Parr brought Hampton Court up from the rear in a stunning display of timing. Hampton Court swept past the two favourites on the outside to score a fantastic victory.
The first lady of racing was very pleased with the result. “There’s a horse that couldn’t win a race until last week. Even the owners lost heart,” said Gai Waterhouse.
“He’s bought his ticket to Melbourne,” she stated cryptically. When asked exactly what she meant by that, Gai said that “He might run in the Derby on the first Saturday of November.
“He’s probably better over the 2400 metres.”
Josh Parr was very pleased with the ride, which seemed to exceed expectations. “We had a plan to be in the first four,” he said. “His turn of foot when he got balanced up and let rip was incredible.”
Heading into the event this afternoon First Seal was highly preferred by the punters. They gave Sweynesse a chance too, but Panzer Division was well out on the third line of betting.
Sweynesse went into this race with a perfect record of four wins from as many starts. With initial plans to race forward somewhat put aside by Paul Messara’s aggressive tactics for Panzer Division, connections are no doubt still pleased with a hard-fought third place.
A dominant victory in the Flight Stakes saw First Seal’s spring plans change to include this race. She was initially meant to head to the paddock, but trainer John Thompson seemed extremely reluctant to waste good form, and it has paid off. She’ll likely head to the paddock now in anticipation of the Autumn Racing Carnival.
Paul Messara made it clear heading into this event that Panzer Division would run a very tidy race. However, his disappointment with the wide barrier draw appears to have been justified, with Press Report pushing Panzer Division into fifth place.
2014 Spring Champion Stakes Results
|1||4||HAMPTON COURT||Gai Waterhouse||Joshua Parr||–||7||56.5kg||$16|
|2||8||FIRST SEAL||John P Thompson||Jason Collett||2.3L||4||54.5kg||$2.15F|
|3||1||SWEYNESSE||John O’Shea||Blake Shinn||2.6L||3||56.5kg||$2.80|
|4||9||PRESS REPORT||Lee Curtis||Ms Winona Costin (a)||5.8L||1||54.5kg||$51|
|5||3||PANZER DIVISION||Paul Messara||Tye Angland||13.2L||9||56.5kg||$9|
|6||6||LIE DIRECT||Steve Englebrecht||Brenton Avdulla||14.8L||8||56.5kg||$101|
|7||7||DRUM ROLL||David Vandyke||Ms Kathy O’Hara||15.1L||6||56.5kg||$71|
|8||5||POUNAMU||Allan Denham||Glyn Schofield||16.4L||2||56.5kg||$61|
|9||2||VALENTIA||Gai Waterhouse||Tim Clark||20.9L||5||56.5kg||$15|