In the big battle of Sydney Cup Day 2013, ace colt All Too Hard has won the $400,000 Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) in their swansong Australian start.
Stealing the spotlight from the day’s official headline event, the Sydney Cup, the All Aged Stakes 2013 was spruiked as a showdown between mighty mare More Joyous and crack young colt All Too Hard with the former starting the punters’ pick.
It was just a small eight-horse field that faced off in the race won the past two years by superstars Atlantic Jewel (2012) Hay List (2011), Casino Prince three-year-old All Too Hard joining this elite list of All Aged Stakes winners with their fourth Group 1 success.
Winner of the Caulfield Guineas in the spring before their Cox Plate second behind fellow top three-year-old Ocean Park, All Too Hard came back in February to post back-to-back Group 1 victories at Caulfield taking out the CF Orr Stakes – Futurity Stakes double.
There were queries over their ability to win in Sydney as they hadn’t won here since last year’s Pago Pago Stakes over 12 months ago.
But they silenced their doubters in a thrilling All Aged Stakes finish to post their third Group 1 on the trot and earn a likely trip to England before being retired to serve as a stallion for Vinery Stud.
Out of the gates it was Joe Pride’s consistent galloper Rain Affair, second behind Atlantic Jewel in this race 12 months ago, who took up the early lead rolling along out front at a moderate pace.
Upon settling More Joyous, who eventually finished a disappointing seventh beating home just one other runner, was in second with Rangirangdoo third and All Too Hard tracking them fourth on the outside.
Approaching the turn for home Rain Affair maintained their lead while More Joyous tried to get off the inside and get a run.
Rain Affair retained their spot at the front until nearly the very end giving the gun All Too Hard something to chase down.
In the end though the colt was too strong, All Too Hard and jockey Dwayne Dunn surging up the centre to challenge.
Trying to get their own run, More Joyous and Nash Rawiller shuffled All Too Hard ($2.80) out of position but instead of dropping back as a lesser class horse may have the eventual winner really knuckled down and got there in the final 50 metres to defeat Rain Affair ($11) by half a length with Waterhouse’s roughie Fiorente ($51) in third – much to the satisfaction of Vinery Stud’s Peter Orton.
“What a horse,” he said happily post-win.
“We always thought he was the real deal.
“A really class race horse.
“He has done enough and he’s got nothing to prove.
“Definitely on our way to England.”
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes who trains in partnership with his brother Wayne and Hall of Fame father John Hawkes was not quite so sure Royal Ascot was a definite saying they would wait and see how the horse pulled up before making any final calls.
“They (the owners) might want to go for a holiday,” he said.
“But the horse comes first and he’s got to pull up enormous after this and then we’ll decide.
“We’ve been overseas three times to Hong Kong…we’ve got a good system.”
Hawkes did agree with Orton on just how good All Too Hard is however, unable to articulate just how big a star he rated him.
“He hasn’t raced for 60 odd days, to do what he’s done today, to pull out all the stops, what an absolute athlete and just a great horse,” he said.
“It’s been a long ride but he’s just an athlete.
“You can’t describe. He’s just got the family, the pedigree and he kicked some arse.”
He was also quick to credit his father in getting the horse to where he is now at.
“Dad’s just a genius,” he said.
“He’s good with the colts and he knows what to do.”
If the horse does go to England Dunn is very much hoping he’ll be asked along for the ride having now ridden the champion to four Group 1 triumphs.
“You gotta know this horse, you wouldn’t want to put just anyone on him,” he said cheekily.
“He’s on the way up, he’s still got improvement and I think today you’ve seen he’s a top class horse.
“There’s a lot of pressure going into these races.
“Today I thought was probably my best ride on him.
“When I asked him for a top effort he really dug deep.”
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2013 All Aged Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Royal Randwick Race 7 – 27/04/2013
|1||7||ALL TOO HARD||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||–||7||56.5kg||$2.80F|
|2||3||RAIN AFFAIR||Joseph Pride||Craig Williams||0.5L||4||59kg||$11|
|3||2||FIORENTE (IRE)||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||1.8L||5||59kg||$51|
|4||4||ROLLING PIN (NZ)||Gwenda Markwell||Christian Reith||2L||3||59kg||$151|
|5||1||RANGIRANGDOO (NZ)||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||2.3L||8||59kg||$26|
|6||8||EPAULETTE||Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||2.6L||6||56.5kg||$4|
|7||6||MORE JOYOUS (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Nash Rawiller||3.8L||1||57kg||$3|
|8||5||SMOKIN’ JOEY||Mick Price||Brenton Avdulla||4.8L||2||59kg||$61|