Ace horseman Peter Snowden celebrated another stakes win for the season with his well-bred Lonhro gelding Scarf taking out the Winter Stakes at Rosehill on the weekend.
The Darley Racing operation has enjoyed an unparalleled 12 months, highlighted by their five-from-five whitewash in the two-year-old Group 1 features, and their No. 1 trainer Snowden has prepared more winners for more prize money than any other trainer this season.
Last Saturday it was another black-type to add to the season’s achievements thanks to three-year-old Scarf saluting as the favourite in the $100,000 Listed Winter Stakes (1500m).
Ridden to perfection by Kerrin McEvoy, the improving grey was able to flash home and defeat the fast finishing Gai Waterhouse-trained Devils Arcade ($5) by long-neck, while David Payne’s Madibagold finished off the Winter Stakes trifecta a further two lengths away in third.
Saturday’s performance was a well-deserved return to form for Scarf, who had no luck in their lead-up run when ninth to Little Surfer Girl in a 1350m Handicap at the track on June 25.
“We wanted to take the bad luck out of the race and ride him positively,” Snowden said of Scarf in the Winter Stakes.
“Kerrin (McEvoy) was able to do that on Scarf and it was a very good effort by the three-year-old to beat the older horses.
“He took all the bad luck out of the race.
“It’s a good sign for the three-year-old against these older horses.”
The Winter Stakes was super-consistent Scarf’s sixth career win from 11 starts and their first black-type victory, boosting their career earnings to over $309,000.
Without denying the horse’s ability, Snowden was hesitant to label Scarf as a genuine Group horse just yet and was unsure whether a spring carnival campaign would be on the agenda next month.
“I don’t know if Scarf is a spring carnival horse,” he admitted.
“I don’t think he is quite there yet because he is still a bit quirky but it’s impossible to fault his form.
“He’ll back up in a couple of weeks in the Winter Championship Final and then we will have a think where we go with him.”
The $100,000 Winter Championship (1500m) will run at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday July 30, and Saturday’s winning hoop McEvoy believes Scarf will only continue to improve with each run.
“He is still learning and will get better,” McEvoy said.
“He is building up a good record.
“He has now six of 11 start and four of five this prep.
“He has always been a big baby but he is showing signs that he is understanding what he has to do.
“He is a progressive horse and will only get better.”
Meanwhile, the 2011 Winter Stakes result saw Snowden hit 45 black-type wins this season, a result he admits will be hard to top in the future.
“It’s been an amazing season, it’s difficult to put into words,” Snowden said.
“The two-year-olds have been fantastic, our three-year-olds like Retrieve, Erewhon and Scarf have stood up, and we have had some good older horses, particularly Beaded.
“You always try to better yourself every year but how we top this I don’t know.”
The Winter Stakes victory also saw Scarf’s sire, Lonhro, post their 13th stakes winner for the year.
“You don’t see many grey Lonhros but it’s very dominant on his dam Muffle’s side,” Snowden said.
Snowden is now equal on 25 stakes wins for the season with Waterhouse, the two battling it out for second place honours behind Chris Waller in the 2010-11 Sydney Trainer’s Premiership.
Having been narrowly defeated in the Winter Stakes, Waterhouse is already planning her revenge with Saturday’s game runner-up, Snowland mare Devils Arcade, who is also on-way to the Winter Championship in a fortnight.
“She was morally beaten really,” Waterhouse said on Saturday.
“There were a couple of other horses unsettled in the gate and just missed the start.
“It is a pity because she is one of the most honest horses in our stable and never runs a bad race.
“She will have to come back here in a couple of weeks in the Winter Championship and try to turn the tables.”