Imported stayer Junoob returned to his best form to score a dominant win in the 2014 Randwick City Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Junoob was ridden close to the speed by jockey James McDonald and travelled comfortably in transit before racing away from the rest of the field when asked for an extra effort in the final stages of the race to record a most comfortable win over stablemate Opinion and The Offer.
The Haafhd gelding stamped himself as a potential Group level horse with a four lengths victory in the Might And Power Handicap (1900m) at Rosehill Gardens on February 15, but was beaten as a short-priced favourite in the Listed Parramatta Cup (1900m) at the same venue on March 1.
Trainer Chris Waller blamed the slow Rosehill Gardens track for Junoob’s surprise defeat in the Parramatta Cup and indicated that the European-bred galloper was a far better horse on a dry surface.
“He was much better today,” Waller said after the race.
“He was up there today, which was different, but that just shows that he is a versatile horse that is full of confidence.
“I thought it was a good run and obviously on a better track he is a different horse.”
Waller and connections had races like the Wagga Cup in mind for Junoob; with the leading Sydney trainer admitting after the race that he will need to rethink his future plans for the six-year-old due to the impressive nature of his win.
The Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens next weekend and the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at the same venue on April 5 are both potential options for Junoob, but Waller is wary off throwing the progressive stayer in the deep end at the highest level of racing.
“We can step-up a little bit, but it is hard with the Ranvet next week,” Waller said.
“He is realistically a win or two away from that, but you would have a think about it and then you have to look at a race at The BMW.
“It wouldn’t be me to be running him in those races as per usual and we will just wait and see.”
McDonald was on board Junoob when he recorded his impressive win in the Might And Power Handicap and the rising hoop was thrilled that the imported galloper was able to show the same acceleration in the Randwick City Stakes.
The promising jockey may not be able to partner Junoob if he is given an opportunity at Group 1 level, as he is booked to ride It’s A Dundeel in the major races during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, but believes that there is plenty to like about the talented gelding going forward.
“He showed that explosive turn-of-foot that he had when I first rode him,” McDonald said.
“He was able to race very positively out of the gates; last time he jumped quiet badly and didn’t handle the track.
“There are plenty of positive signs going forward, especially on a good track.”
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2014 Randwick City Stakes Results
|1||7||JUNOOB (GB)||Chris Waller||James McDonald||–||6||54kg||$2.25F|
|2||4||OPINION (IRE)||Chris Waller||Jim Cassidy||5L||3||56kg||$2.90|
|3||6||THE OFFER (IRE)||Gai Waterhouse||Adam Hyeronimus||5.1L||7||54kg||$8|
|4||2||BAYRIR (FR)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||5.2L||5||58kg||$15|
|5||8||MARGINS||Ben Currie||Christian Reith||9.1L||4||54kg||$31|
|6||5||TREMEC (NZ)||John P Thompson||Craig Newitt||9.3L||2||55.5kg||$61|
|7||9||VAQUERA (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||12.8L||1||54kg||$13|