There looks to be little standing in the way of Gai Waterhouse’s remarkable young sprinter Squamosa securing their second win for the season at Gosford on Friday, the Group 1 performer having drawn ideally for their Takeover Target Stakes assignment.
Not A Single Doubt colt Squamosa showed their potential right from the get go last year winning their opening three race starts in fine style.
Following a brave half-length victory over Masquerader in the Group 3 Run to the Rose (1300m) in the August of 2010, Waterhouse gave the colt their chance at early Group 1 glory saddling Squamosa up in the $1 million Golden Rose (1400m).
It was a thrillingly close finish, Squamosa coming within a neck of winner Toorak Toff in the Rosehill feature before being turned out for a spell.
Waterhouse was over the moon with Squamosa’s first-up run this year, the colt returning to the spotlight with a flawless five length victory in the Listed June Stakes (1100m) on a Heavy (8) Randwick track three weeks ago.
Jim Cassidy was aboard for Squamosa’s effortless June Stakes success, the hoop tipping the winner as a superstar in the making.
“To get on any of them is great, but to get on this bloke, he is a Group 1 sprinter without a doubt,” Cassidy said after the race.
“He was explosive….he is not right yet but it will be pretty frightening when they get him fit.”
Tomorrow Squamosa will start the odds-on favourite in the $100,000 Listed Takeover Target Stakes (1200m) with jockey Nash Rawiller to get a gun run when he re-unites with the exciting galloper after drawing barrier three for the Gosford feature.
“Squamosa is coming off a fantastic win in the June Stakes and having drawn ideally in barrier three we would have to think he is clearly the horse to beat on Friday,” Star Thoroughbreds owner and operator Denise Martin said.
“They say in racing nothing ever surprises a racehorse owner.
“You get to expect the unexpected in racing but he should be extremely hard to beat.
“He is a superb colt, we are delighted with what the colt is achieving for his owners.
“Right from the time he came into training with Gai there was always a feeling the colt had considerable ability.”
That undeniably awesome ability has, to date, won connections over $430,000 in prize money with Squamosa sure to add to this significantly during the spring with plenty of elite level targets on the horizon.
Waterhouse originally planned to give Squamosa a Group 1 campaign this winter, however there were a few setbacks during his preparation including the wet weather in Sydney denying him the chance to workout.
“The plan originally when he came back into work earlier in the year was to have the colt ready for the Stradbroke (Handicap),” Martin explained.
“We have always felt that after his first preparation he was capable of winning at Group 1 level.
“With the number of cancelled barrier trials in Sydney in recent months and the extensive wet weather which has hit Sydney over the last couple of months we quite literally ran out of time to have him prepared.
“The best course of action then was to allow the colt to have two easier assignments in the winter being the June Stakes and the Takeover Target Stakes then have a brief let up of two to three weeks after Friday.”
For his second run as a three-year-old, Squamosa will face a tougher class of competition than he did in the June Stakes with the likes of Sue Grills‘ defending champion Border Rebel, Kris Lee’s Flying Spur eight-year-old Motspur and the Peter Snowden-trained Skytrain all proven performers out for an upset.
Martin, however, remains bullish over Squamosa’s claims and believes he will rise to the occasion as naturally as he destroyed his rivals first-up.
After a brief spell following Friday’s race, Squamosa will be bought back for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival where his first major aim will be the $500,000 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in late September.
There is also the chance Waterhouse will head overseas with Squamosa next year for the 2012 Royal Ascot carnival in England.
“He would need to win at Group 1 level (in Australia) before Royal Ascot became a genuine plan,” Martin said.
“He is a Group 1 winner in waiting we believe.
“All the jockeys who have ridden him throughout his career have commented he can reach Group 1 status and that is our aim with him.
“If he were able to win at Group 1 level during his four-year-old season either in the spring or in the autumn, hopefully the spring, then I think Gai would definitely consider Royal Ascot on the radar for sure.”
Star Thoroughbreds have enjoyed plenty of success both on the track and off with a number of their turf champions continuing on for a decorated career at stud including 2008 Golden Slipper winner Sebring and five-time Group 1 champion Theseo.
“Squamosa is our star on the rise for now,” Martin said.
“He is a stud prospect, a lovely looking horse with beautiful balance, very strong and possesses explosive acceleration.”
In a connection to Squamosa’s first chance for a Group 1 win in the Manikato, last year’s Manikato Stakes saw John McNair’s gallant galloper Hay List also break his Group 1 maiden.
While Hay List has been sidelined with a leg infection since being scratched from last month’s Doomben 10,000, McNair is still keenly preparing a number of his other stable hopes including two that will take on Squamosa in the Takeover Target on Friday.
McNair has accepted six-year-old Royal Discretion and seven-year-old My Vegas, who share the sire Royal Academy, for the race but concedes they will be racing for a place at best with Squamosa in the line-up.
Of the pair McNair most fancies the chances of My Vegas, who finished third to Border Rebel in the Takeover Target Stakes 12 months ago.
“He is similar to the way he was before last year’s race if not better,” McNair said.
“But I wish Squamosa wasn’t there, I think we are all running for second.
“He is a well above average horse.”