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Trainer Chris Waller has a confirmed Caulfield Cup 2019 contender with the back-in-form Brimham Rocks scoring an upset win in the Naturalism Stakes to earn the ballot exemption into next month’s $5 million classic.
Before the Group 3 $160,000 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) on Ladbrokes Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes Day, Waller’s Fastnet Rock six-year-old Brimham Rocks was 75th on the Caulfield Cup order of entry with 52kg.
The gelding was the bridesmaid of last spring finishing second four time son the trot including in the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) when beaten a nostril flare, and narrowly missed out on a run in Flemington’s Melbourne Cup.
He had a flat autumn with a host of disappointing runs, none more so than his dead last when 20th behind Shraaoh in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) over the two miles.
Brimham Rocks had two unplaced runs first and second-up in the Rowley Mile (10th) at Hawkesbury and then the Chelmsford Stakes (9th) before returning to the winners’ stall in the Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield.
It was the import’s first win in over 700 days with Brimham Rocks previously a maiden down under, his last victory being at York in October of 2017.
“He’s certainly earned it but I’m sure Chris is really happy just to see this horse return to form,” Waller’s stable rep Johanne Taylor said post-win.
“He was certainly convincing today.
“He’s a horse that I think has a lot of upside to him and whether Chris wants to give him another run, I don’t know if it’s completely necessary, but the options are there if Chris wants to.
“I think on what we saw today, he’s fit and well and we know the trip isn’t an issue for him.”
Given a gun ride from jockey Michael Walker, Brimham Rocks settled towards the middle of the Naturalism Stakes field that was led around by the Lindsay Park-trained Sikandarabad.
With the Volkstok’n’barrell putting the pressure on the front-runner, the pace quickened approaching the turn and it was a tightly packed field at the 400m.
On the home straight Walker began his run down the outside with Brimham Rocks ($21) who took the lead 100m out from the line, pulling clear to defeat his stablemate So You Win ($12) by one and a quarter-lengths.
“I had a really nice run,” winning hoop Walker said post-race.
“He’s a good out and out stayer and I knew Chris would have him fit for today and ready to go.”
Rounding out the Naturalism Stakes trifecta three lengths back for third was the pacemaker Sikandarabad.
The favourite Super Titus from the Lindsay Park stable had a luckless run for eighth after box-seating in fourth before missing the run on the fence and getting squeezed out.
Brimham Rocks has now secured a spot in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) back at the track over the mile and a half on October 19.
He is out to be the first horse since the classy mare Jameka (2016) to do the Naturalism Stakes – Caulfield Cup double.
When asked if Brimham Rocks was a genuine hope for the Caulfield Cup, Walker said “definitely”.
“He’s had a few runs now,” the hoop added.
“He [Waller] doesn’t like having horses in it for the sake of it,” she said.
“We’ve had horses here we thought would have been suited, but for reason it hasn’t gone our way.”
2019 Naturalism Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||7||BRIMHAM ROCKS (GB)||Chris Waller||Michael Walker||–||9||55kg||$21|
|2||13||SO YOU WIN||Chris Waller||Dean Yendall||1.25L||2||54kg||$12|
|3||5||SIKANDARABAD (IRE)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Michael Dee||3L||5||56.5kg||$3.90|
|4||3||GALLIC CHIEFTAIN (FR)||Archie Alexander||Damian Lane||3.75L||4||57kg||$26|
|5||14||WOLFE (JPN)||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Ms Linda Meech||3.95L||3||54kg||$7.50|
|6||4||STEEL PRINCE (IRE)||Anthony Freedman||Clayton Douglas||4.05L||7||57kg||$7.50|
|7||2||NEUFBOSC (FR)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Dwayne Dunn||4.35L||11||58kg||$26|
|8||11||SUPER TITUS (GB)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Craig Williams||4.45L||1||54kg||$3.60F|
|9||9||ETYMOLOGY||James Cummings||Ben Melham||4.95L||8||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$8.50|
|10||6||VOLKSTOK’N’BARRELL (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||Brett Prebble||5.7L||6||56.5kg||$19|
|11||10||LORD FANDANGO (GER)||Archie Alexander||Ben Allen||10.7L||10||54kg||$61|
|–||16||VALAC (IRE)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Stephen Baster||–||0||–||–|
|–||15||SUPERNOVA (GB)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||James Winks||–||0||–||–|
|–||1||MUNTAHAA (IRE)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Jamie Kah||–||0||–||–|
|–||8||SELF SENSE||David Brideoake||Daniel Stackhouse||–||0||–||–|
|–||12||MAURUS (GB)||John Thompson||Ms Rachel King||–||0||–||–|
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