The second Group 1 race on the Sydney Cup Day card this afternoon as been won by Peter Snowden’s classy filly Guelph who joined an elite list of juveniles to win the final leg of the Sydney Autumn 2YO Triple Crown backing up from her ATC Sires Produce success to win the 2013 Champagne Stakes.
Won 12 months ago by super colt Pierro, this year’s $400,000 Group 1 Moet & Chandon 150th Champagne Stakes (1600m) was another cracking edition with a photo finish between the favourite Guelph and progressive colt Fuerza.
Proving one of the strongest juveniles of the season Exceed And Excel filly Guelph was Snowden’s pick for the Blue Diamond in Melbourne back in February but bad luck saw her run a disappointing ninth that day.
She hit better form in Sydney when fourth in the Golden Slipper before bouncing back to win the Group 1 ATC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) before completing a double achieved by five other two-year-olds in the past decade with a gritty win in today’s Champagne Stakes.
Guelph certainly put herself in a tough position early getting a long way back right from the jump, plans to have her up in the first half of the field from her bonny barrier six draw thrown out the window.
Best out of the gates was ATC Sires runner-up Scandiva who hit the lead before the Bjorn Baker-trained Fuerza, backing up off a distant second to fellow Champagne rival Riocetto in the Fernhill here last Saturday, moved up to hit the front.
Jim Cassidy quickly hit the button with Fuerza to take them out to a massive lead and give the rest of them, including Guelph, something to really chase.
With 600m left to travel Fuerza raced right away and held around a four length lead, Gai Waterhouse’s undefeated gelding Equator doing the chasing in second.
Round the home turn Fuerza still had a massive lead but was tiring quickly with Equator coming after it.
But then, after encountering traffic problems coming into the turn and looking unlikely to get through, Guelph showed her class storming home to dive on the outside in a massive run producing a photo finish Champagne Stakes result.
On the line Guelph ($2.50F) won by a nose getting the bob of the head over Fuerza ($26) while Equator ($20) ran a good third just a further short-head away.
Also catching the eye was the Anthony Cummings-trained Danehill Dancer colt Drago ($21) who was last out of the gates but ran a slashing fourth in just their third ever race start finishing only three quarters of a length off the winner after also running fourth in the Sires Produce.
After holding his breath over the final strides, Snowden felt great relief after watching Guelph win a race not many others would have been able to.
“A mile too far back I thought, we did intend to be in the first half a dozen,” Snowden said.
“I thought there was just too much for her to do.
“But she’s good enough to do it.
“I think what’s she’s done shows what she’s made of.
“To back up (off a Blue Diamond and then Golden Slipper campaign) and win the Sires Produce – Champagne proves her ability and toughness and she’s right up there with the best of them this season.”
McEvoy was also worried he had let Guelph get too far back early but was thrilled at her versatility to chase them down and become a dual Group 1 winner.
“It was a different sort of race, it unfolded differently to how I thought and we just ended up back in the ruck…I needed to pick up really quickly,” he said.
“She’s as game as a pebble and knows her stuff really well.
“She’s a classy filly and obviously has been nicely prepared as she knows her job.
“She’s just a pleasure to be around. She’s got a great turn of foot and is only going to get better.”
She will get her chance to prove McEvoy right when she returns in the spring, Snowden confident she will make a nice three-year-old at the end of the year.
“We’ve been very mindful about not over taxing her,” he said.
“Great family, good pedigree, she’s a tough filly and should train on.”
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2013 Champagne Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Royal Randwick Race 5 – 27/04/2013
|1||11||GUELPH||Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||–||6||54.5kg||$2.50F|
|2||4||FUERZA||Bjorn Baker||Jim Cassidy||0.1L||12||56.5kg||$26|
|3||8||EQUATOR||Gai Waterhouse||Nash Rawiller||0.3L||9||56.5kg||$20|
|4||9||DRAGO||Anthony Cummings||Michael Rodd||0.7L||13||56.5kg||$21|
|5||3||FAST ’N’ ROCKING||David Hayes||Steven Arnold||1.7L||1||56.5kg||$8.50|
|6||2||CRITERION (NZ)||David Payne||Hugh Bowman||2.1L||8||56.5kg||$5.50|
|7||5||CHARLIE BOY||Gerald Ryan||Christian Reith||3.6L||10||56.5kg||$21|
|8||7||HAVANA||Paul Messara||Craig Williams||4L||4||56.5kg||$41|
|9||12||SCANDIVA||Anthony Cummings||Peter Robl||4.4L||5||54.5kg||$8.50|
|10||10||STAR WARS (NZ)||Scott Aspery||Ms Kathy O’Hara||4.7L||2||56.5kg||$151|
|11||1||RIOCETTO||Neville & Christopher Voigt||Brenton Avdulla||10.6L||7||56.5kg||$21|
|12||6||CHAMPOLLION||Peter Snowden||Blake Shinn||11L||11||56.5kg||$61|
|13||14||SHAHAD||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||11.3L||3||54.5kg||$12|
|–||13||DIVA DEE||Anthony Cummings||Dwayne Dunn||–||0||–||–|