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Gai Waterhouse’s promising two-year-old Almalad has raced into JJ Atkins 2014 contention following their easy first-up win in Sydney over the weekend.
The Al Maher gelding retained their undefeated status when beating home stable mate Sports Edition by a big three and a half lengths in the $85,000 TAB Early Quaddie 2YO Plate (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Waterhouse prepared the trifecta too with Ravenwitch a further one and a quarter lengths away third.
It was Almalad’s their first appearance in nearly five months before which they won their debut at Gosford on December 27.
While only lightly raced and yet to be tested in better company, Waterhouse believes Almalad perfectly capable of matching the season’s top juveniles at elite level next start.
“He showed great ability when he won his only start at Gosford back in December but he needed to run and win today to get ready for the J.J. Atkins,” Waterhouse said post-win on Saturday.
The youngster then will be accepted for the $500,000 Group 1 JJ Atkins (1600m) running at Eagle Farm Racecourse in Brisbane on Stradbroke Handicap Day, June 7.
The JJ Atkins will certainly be a true test of Almalad’s ability as not only are they racing interstate for the first time against better company, but they also go up from 1200m to the mile.
That’s a distance leap though Waterhouse is not worried about at all.
“The step up in distance won’t worry him,” she said.
“This is a young horse with a big future.
“I’ll have him on the float first thing to go to Queensland.”
Also impressed with Almalad’s win was teenage apprentice jockey Winona Costin, 19, who enjoyed her first Sydney Saturday victory in the race.
“He jumped really well, then travelled up nicely with the blinkers on,” Costin said of the $2.10 favourite.
“Then when he came out at the top of the straight he was always going to go past his stablemate so I just nursed him for a little bit then when I let him go he had a great turn of foot.”
It seems Waterhouse’s excitement ahead of the JJ Atkins is emulated by the bookies too who have Almalad sitting as the $6.50 second favourite to win in the pre-field markets.
Latest JJ Atkins odds remain led by the Chris Waller-trained Brazen Beau.
They’ve retained their favouritism despite the I Am Invincible colt going down as the beaten favourite when runner-up behind upset winner Time For War in the Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1350m) at Doomben on Saturday.
Gerald Ryan’s Snitzel colt Time For War, who improved dramatically on their last start 10th behind Brazen Beau in the Group 2 Champagne Classic (1200m) to win the Sires, is at $9 to back up with a JJ Atkins win.
BRC Sires’ Produce third placed Looks Like The Cat sits between them at $7.
The local Husson colt is prepared by Tony Gollan who celebrated the Doomben 10,000 quinella with half-brothers Spirit Of Boom and Temple Of Boom on the weekend.
The BRC Sires Produce has produced seven of the past 10 JJ Atkins winners with Sizzling (2012) and Pressday (2010) the only two to achieve the double.
Waterhouse also has a high opinion of the horses that ran second and third behind Alamlad in Saturday’s race, and believes improvement will also come from sixth over the line Mumbai Rock.
“Sports Edition is a very nice type, a lovely big, strong burly type and he ran really well for his first start in a race, as did Ravenwitch,” the Hall of Fame trainer said.
“Even Mumbai Rock is going to improve, they are all promising types.”
First acceptances for the JJ Atkins 2014 close this Wednesday so stay tuned.
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