Gai Waterhouse has labelled the number of scratchings in Australian races due to the wet an “epidemic” and will run race favourite Alamald rain, hail or shine in Saturday’s 2014 The Run To The Rose.
Unlike in Hong Kong where trainers are forced to run their horses, a vet’s certificate aside, once acceptances are taken, Australian racing officials have a far more relaxed position on the subject.
Waterhouse is one trainer unhappy with how many post-acceptance scratchings take place when tracks are in the Heavy-range on race day down under, and believes stewards should have a crack-down on the trend.
“In Hong Kong nobody is allowed to scratch once you accept, unless you have a medical certificate,” Waterhouse told The Daily Telegraph this week after Wednesday’s Warwick Farm meeting lost 35 horses due to the rain-affected track.
“But here we scratch at the drop of a hat. It’s become an epidemic in my opinion.
“It’s bad for racing. Let’s say we have a wet spring. Are these people going to scratch their horses every time we have a shower?
“If an owner insists they don’t want their horse to run, you can’t go against them. But we’ve become paranoid about wet tracks.”
Last weekend at Royal Randwick the meeting’s feature race, the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m), lost a host of its top stars including the Chris Waller-trained Boban and Cox Plate-bound Messene who instead face off in the $400,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) in Melbourne this Saturday.
Another feature race weekend in Sydney and another Heavy track is on the cards then this weekend at Rosehill Gardens then.
The headline event is the $125,000 Group 3 MTA NSW Run To The Rose (1200m), a crucial lead-up race for three-year-olds looking to return on September 13 for a shot at the lucrative $1 million Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m).
Favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au in The Run To The Rose odds is Waterhouse’s Al Maher colt Almalad who she has confirmed as a definite starter no matter the conditions.
Drawn in barrier five with Tommy Berry in the saddle the Group 1 winner pays $3.80 to win despite having to lump the 60kg top weight in his resuming run on a bottomless track.
Almalad is undefeated with three wins to date including the Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m) in Brisbane on June 7 when Berry first rode him.
While Waterhouse knows improvement will come later this prep as she steps the youngster up to 1400m and a mile (1600m), she is still confident the bookies have the right horse at the top of The Run To The Rose odds.
“Almalad has been a slow maturer, like Desert War and Bentley Biscuit, he’s showed me ability, but not the genius that Pierro had,” she said.
“He’s a laid-back horse, and he’ll improve dramatically over 1400m and 1600m.”
Almalad is also top fancy for the Golden Rose next month paying an equal $6 with Peter Moody’s Silver Shadow Stakes winning filly Bring Me The Maid from last weekend.
And in the Melbourne futures markets he is the horse to beat at $9, equal with fellow Run To The Rose candidate and JJ Atkins runner-up Brazen Beau, for the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 11.
Waterhouse is also happy with her decision not to give Almalad an official trial ahead of Saturday’s race, believing his fitness good enough to beat home his 11 rivals that also include recent San Domenico Stakes winner Nostradamus ($6), the John O’Shea-trained Rosebud fourth placegetter Sarajevo ($7) and James & Bart Cummings’ undefeated Group 3 winner Hallowed Crown ($8) who will relish the muddy conditions on the weekend.
“I thought to myself, ‘I can get away without a trial’, he’s not a colt, he’s a gelding, so he doesn’t have the same level of sass inside him,” she said.
To back Alamald or to tip an upset Run To The Rose result on Saturday visit Ladbrokes.com.au and access all the best markets including their Favourite v The Field where you can take Almalad at $3.80 to win, or any other runner except the favourite at $1.14!