Two year olds Tenley (Reisling Stakes) and Yes Yes Yes (Todman Stakes) were explosive in their Randwick wins on Saturday, while The Autumn Sun deserved every accolade that came his way.
Their performances stole some of the spotlight from a dazzling win by Princess Posh in the Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket twenty four hours earlier. The five year old mare delivered her career best, when she beat some classy opposition in track record time.
The merit of the win would have earned her top honours in most other weeks.
The Princess has been on the scene for two and a half years, logging twenty seven starts for 8 wins and 10 placings and $566,000 in earnings.
She’s won four from eight on her home track, including two Group 3’s. “If you saw how scratchy she looks some days, you’d wonder how the hell she’s ever won a race”, said trainer Kris Lees over the weekend. “At the trot she looks terrible, at the gallop she’s fine. We’ve checked everything and can find nothing wrong”.
There was certainly nothing ailing her last Friday, when she travelled three wide with cover from the 900 metres, before zooming home to snatch victory with a sizzling last 600 metres in 33.52. “She’s one of the toughest mares I’ve ever trained”, said Kris. “She had four weeks off after a Melbourne campaign last November, and that was her first break in a long time. She enjoys her racing and training and gives no indication she’s looking for the paddock”.
Those behind her in the Newcastle sprint included Savatiano (her fourth Group placing), stablemate Invincible Gem (winner of a Gr 2 Missile Stakes and Gr 3 Spring Stakes), Lanciato who’d won the race a year earlier and Siege of Quebec (a Gr 3 winner).
Princess Posh is raced by one of the smaller Australian Bloodstock syndicates, and company director Luke Murrell clearly remembers the day he secured her for $25,000 at the 2015 Inglis Premier Yearling sale. “Buyers didn’t seem to know much about her sire Canford Cliffs “, recalled Luke. “I was was aware he’d been a very good racehorse in the UK, winning five times at Group 1. He had a quick turn of foot and could really attack the line”.
His Group 1 wins included the Irish 2000 Guineas, The St James Palace Stakes, the Queen Anne Stakes, the Lockinge Stakes and the Sussex Stakes. Many keen judges gave him a remote hope against Frankel in the 2011 Sussex Stakes, but he struck the champion at his awesome best and was five lengths in arrears when the judge called a halt. Canford Cliffs succumbed to a leg injury after the Sussex, and was retired to Coolmore Stud.
He has the distinction of winning a race on the opening day of the Royal Ascot meeting in three consecutive years.
Canford Cliffs shuttled to Victoria’s Blue Gum Farm for five seasons (2012-2016). Horse Operations Manager Chris Kent remembers him as a very pleasant horse, with a professional work ethic. He’s now permanently domiciled in South Africa, and at just twelve years of age has plenty of time in which to produce a son or daughter of similar ability to his own.
His best opportunity to sire one as good as himself, may have been lost when his filly foal out of Helsinge died soon after birth.
The owners of the celebrated broodmare paid Canford Cliffs a great compliment in selecting him as the 2014 consort for the mother of Black Caviar and All Too Hard.
Kris Lees has no doubt Princess Posh has gone to another level in the last six months, after some patchy early form.
Following a “freshen up” in the early Spring last year, she ran a good fourth in the Wyong Mona Lisa before scoring an authoritative win in the Gr 3 Tibbie Stakes at Newcastle.
Next assignment was the Gr 2 Golden Pendant in which she was a close third to Shumookh and Champagne Cuddles. She then missed a place in a very strong Angst Stakes (Gr 3), but was less than two lengths from the winner I Am Serious.
Kris gave her a quick little trip to Melbourne for two Group 3 races, and she finished third in both. The trainer opted for only one month off, because the mare is clearly happier when she’s on the job.
“Her first run back in the Triscay Stakes was a bit plain and I can’t really tell you why”, said Kris over the weekend. “She was a different mare at Newcastle and I’m hoping the run will bring her on further, because she’s going to back up in the Coolmore Classic on Saturday (March 16th) with Kerrin McEvoy on board”.
Princess Posh is coming towards the end of her tenure with Australian Bloodstock. “She’ll run in a race or two over the carnival and if her form holds up we might even look at the Tatt’s Tiara in Brisbane”, said Luke Murrell. “After that, it would be in the best interests of her owners to offer her for sale”
Another AB colour bearer whose Aussie sojourn is all but over is Brave Smash. The immensely talented stallion has put together three cracking runs this time in, including his third in Saturday’s Newmarket at Flemington.
A fifty percent ownership share in Brave Smash was sold recently, and he’ll soon be bound for the northern hemisphere. “The syndicate would love to have him at Royal Ascot this year, with a possible stopover in Dubai on the way over”, said Luke Murrell.
The sprinter has been in Australia for eighteen months, winning twice at Group 1 level (Manikato Stakes and Futurity Stakes). He was second in last year’s Newmarket and second in a Moir Stakes. He’ll be remembered for his stylish third in the inaugural running of The Everest.
Aussie race fans are pretty hard markers when it comes to assessing the Group 1 performers. You won’t hear too many knocks for Brave Smash.