One of Sydney and indeed the country’s premier trainers Gai Waterhouse is hoping the sunny skies in Sydney stay that way and lead to a firming Rosehill track as she chases the 2014 Golden Rose win with Almaladthis weekend.
The Group 1 JJ Atkins winner over the Eagle Farm mile during the winter is one of 15 three-year-olds set to face off in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) on Saturday, Almalad paying $10 in the latest markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The Al Maher gelding drew well with gate five in this morning’s 2014 Golden Rose barrier draw but it will be the track conditions not his starting position that could get him beat in the feature.
After taking out his three opening career starts including the Group 1 in Brisbane Almalad suffered his first defeat when resuming at Rosehill on August 30 in the Group 3 Run To The Rose (1200m).
Carrying 60kg with Tommy Berry aboard he failed to handle the Heavy (9) track that day, really struggling over the final 200m and dropping right back to cross four lengths away ninth beating home just one other runner.
Still Waterhouse, who is yet to trainer a Golden Rose winner, has accepted for him to have another shot as Almalad prepares to face off against the James & Bart Cummings-trained Run To The Rose winner Hallowed Crown once again.
The Golden Rose is one of just three Sydney Group 1s Waterhouse is yet to win along with the ATC Australian Derby and the Randwick Guineas also for three-year-olds.
“Is that right? We’ll have to fix that,” Waterhouse told The Daily Telegraph on Monday.
While the win has eluded her she has prepared a number of placegetters in the race including a third with Bull Point last year behind the Chris Waller-trained Zoustar and back in 20014 with Almalad’s sire Al Maher.
“They’re very similar horses, he keeps improving as he goes along, he’s got lovely, raw ability, and a great personality, which his father had,” she said of Almalad.
Sydney may have sun shining at the moment but the Rosehill track is still rated a Heavy (8) and is tipped to be Slow at best for Golden Rose Day.
“Almalad is forward enough to win (on Saturday), it’s just a matter of getting a track to his liking,” Waterhouse said.
“He looks good, he’s relaxed, and you probably won’t see the best of him until he gets to a mile and beyond.
“But he’ll be competitive Saturday, especially if it’s drier.”
That’s the biggest concern then for Waterhouse and jockey Berry, who retains the ride on the weekend, with Almalad coming up against a couple of known mudlarks.
One of those is the firm $4.40 favourite Bring Me The Maid, Peter Moody’s Sebring filly having thrived on a Heavy (9) Randwick track last time out on August 23 to win the Group 2 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m).
That was her first run since crossing third in the Golden Slipper back in April and she came up trumps with barrier six for the Golden Rose with Luke Nolen staying on.
Berry meanwhile shoots for his second Golden Rose victory having scored his first Group 1 win in the race back in 2012 aboard the Peter Snowden-trained Epaulette.
The Sydney form on the Golden Rose contenders is hard to track this year too according to Waterhouse who knows just how badly the wet tracks can affect the results.
“Sydney’s form is upside down at the moment,” she said.
“You can’t work your horses because the tracks have been so rain-affected, and while I’m taking nothing away from the winners (in recent weeks), with the wet, the form has been a bit dubious.”
As for the Golden Rose horse to beat, she rates the favourite Bring Me The Maid as the deserving shortie in the markets.
If all goes to plan Waterhouse also said she would consider backing Almalad up next month in the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 11 and was also looking at the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) on October 25.
Check out the full Golden Rose 2014 betting markets and options online now at Ladbrokes.com.au where you can take on the favourite Bring Me The Maid ($4.40) by backing any runner except her at $1.10 to win in their ‘Favourite vs Field’ markets!