Gai turns up the heat at trials
- August 17, 2012
Buoyed by champion Black Caviar, Peter Moody may have won the headline round against Gai Waterhouse, outstanding in the category, last season but only in a photo-finish.
Sure, Moody had more winners, 209, than Lady Gai (160) but she led the win-and-place strike rates (23.5 per cent win and 48.77 per cent place) and her Sydney autumn, streamlined by the outstanding mare More Joyous and the unbeaten two-year-old Pierro, again etched her name with the all-time greats in what was a vintage season.
Maybe racing integrity is under scrutiny but we have seen a champion, great and outstanding horses, trained to perfection and often ridden with verve and skill.
Still, the wisdom of trainers, particularly in media interviews, was very much in question. Waterhouse, of course, has never lacked confidence on or off the microphone.
The Waterhouse policy is now more centred on strike rates than runners, with barrier trials a favoured fitness aid. For instance the trainer has only had 691 starters compared with Moody’s 1034, but his win and place figures (20.21 per cent win and 47 per cent place) were exceptional.
Ironically, Mick Price, the canny Caulfield trainer, also had 691 starters for 132 winners and he promises to be a big player in the spring. His outstanding filly Samaready resumes in the Quezette Stakes at Caulfield tomorrow.
Peter Snowden may have been runner-up to Moody last season with 183 winners and 532 placings but he can do better – if the team stars aren’t shunted abroad by Darley.
On an Australia-wide basis, Chris Waller (172½) finished behind the commendable effort of Darren Weir (174) but Waller had more demanding opposition. Apart from top-liners, Waller deals in ”bread-and-butter horses” that back up every second Saturday in Sydney. In the winter months and most staying races, Waller has kept city field sizes at an acceptable level. Backing his outsiders, particularly against favoured stablemates, though, paid a better dividend than mining shares.
”Inside mail”, or the right tip in a hot race, is to the fore at present and the judgment of trainers in media interviews has been a critical issue. However, a letter to Winning Post emphasised the pitfalls in preparing a winner and should be required reading for those seeking enlightenment.
”People who complain about horses’ performances in a lot of cases [but not all] just do not understand that horses are not like motor vehicles which perform exactly the same all the time,” wrote Mick Gurn, of Pittsworth in Queensland.
”What they perceive as some wrongdoing or trickery is just not the case in reality as there are so many variables in dealing with any animal … Horses are like all others [humans included]. They are affected by everything they do, what they eat, weather conditions, aches and pains not always obvious …
”Horses cannot tell you how they feel. They are affected by the ground they race on, the ability of the jockey to steer them correctly at high speeds, luck in running and the weight they carry against competitive opposition.
”Horses can improve overnight for a number of reasons – maturity of mind and body, different training and different feeding programs, a different training location, which might suit some horses more than others, being boxed all the time versus freedom of movement with bigger yards and day paddocks.
”Another very misunderstood and underrated aspect is people yelling or just loud, aggressive language in stables, which in my opinion is why women get better results with some horses.”
Back to Lady Gai, who produced more spring stars at the Randwick barrier trials on Monday than Rosehill had acceptors on Saturday.
”It’s probably the best group of horses we’ve seen go around in quite some time.” Waterhouse wrote on her blog. ”The stars of the show would have to be headlined by More Joyous. Nash [Rawiller] told me she has never felt better but with her mission this year being the Cox Plate, you won’t see her racing for a little while yet.”
Waterhouse was also enthusiastic about Gooree’s Kabayan: ”A star three-year-old by Haradasun and he could not have been more impressive. He is set to commence in the Run to the Roses on September 1. Coolmore’s King Of Olympia blew his rivals away … Vaquera (High Chaparral x The Mighty Lions) did exactly what I expected and made an impressive finish. She has oaks written all over her.”
Thus her new season looks very good indeed.