By Bren O'Brien
Far from disheartened by a day of almosts on Saturday, Aquis Farm are eyeing Group 1 glory this spring with their star fillies Fundamentalist (Not a Single Doubt) and Sunlight (Zoustar).
At Caulfield, Aquis owned two Group 1 placegetters in third-placed Siege of Quebec (Fastnet Rock) in the Toorak Handicap and runner-up Fundamentalist in the Thousand Guineas.
Meanwhile at Randwick, Aquis owner Tony Fung was on hand as Trapeze Artist (Snitzel), the horse Aquis had selected to run in their slot, ran second in The TAB Everest.
"It was one of those days." - Aquis CEO, Shane McGrath
"It was one of those days," Aquis CEO Shane McGrath told TDN AusNZ. "We knew the horses when you've got them with the Group 1 trainers, you expect them to run well. We were pretty happy."
Aquis did experience one success on Saturday with Sunlight, who is owned by a syndicated headed by Mr Fung's wife Loretta.
Trainer Tony McEvoy revealed after Sunlight won the G3 Thoroughbred Club S. that the Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner and Golden Slipper S. placegetter would now head to the G1 Manikato S. at Moonee Valley on October 26.
"Tony is the master with those fillies," McGrath said. "Once she hit the front she was never stopping."
"He's keen to go to the Manikato next start. She’ll meet Houtzen there and that will be exciting for the camp to have two of the best sprinting fillies head-to-head."
McGrath was suitably impressed by Sunlight's win on Saturday, considering she was nearly two months between runs after a couple of setbacks.
"Tony is the master with those fillies. Once she hit the front she was never stopping." - Shane McGrath
"I thought she was brilliant yesterday and she put that writing on the wall with that trial at Cranbourne. Tony was telling me it was the fastest trial at Cranbourne since Bel Mer's trial leading into the Robert Sangster. It was Group 1 work and I thought she raced right up that yesterday," he said.
"She's tough, she's quality, she's got a big heart and she's got a wonderful action as well. She seems to be so economical in the run, which appears to be her major asset."
Myer aim for Thousand Guineas runner-up
McGrath revealed the Lindsay Park trained Fundamentalist would likely head towards the G1 Myer Classic after being narrowly beaten by Amphitrite in the Thousand Guineas.
"Three-year-old fillies have a great record in recent times with the light weight. That's probably the most likely program for her." - Shane McGrath on Fundamentalist's Myer plans
"Her last start in the Flight, she didn’t get a crack at them and it was a better run than it looked. We genuinely went into the race, although she was 100-1, with confidence that she could run well and she did," he said.
"She'll most likely go to Moonee Valley for the Group 2 fillies' race (PFD Food Services Fillies Classic) on Cox Plate day and against her own sex there she should be more than competitive."
"We'll have a look at the Myer after that. Three-year-old fillies have a great record in recent times with the light weight. That's probably the most likely program for her."
McGrath and Mr Fung were at Randwick on Saturday, hoping Trapeze Artist could get the job done for Aquis as a slotholder as well as for the owners Bert Vieira and his family, who have endured a difficult time after Bert's wife Gai Vieira was critically injured in a serious road accident last month.
"We set out to pick a horse out to win it, and we went early with him," McGrath said. " I had a good chat with Bert afterwards, even though he's disappointed, his horse has run super. Tye (Angland) gave him a great ride and he's got a lot to look forward to."
"I suppose the conditions didn’t suit him as well as well as the winner but take nothing away from Redzel."
Everest challenges in Hong Kong
McGrath said for all the success The Everest had generated over its first two years, it was still struggling for cut through in Hong Kong, where Mr Fung is based.
"I think we need to get people's heads together and figure that out because they are too close a trading partner and jurisdiction for us to be alienated from at the moment." - Shane McGrath
He said the current impasse surrounding Australia horses heading to Hong Kong for quarantine was causing significant issues in both the promotion of Australian racing and the options for horses like Trapeze Artist.
"The elephant in the room keeps rearing its head with this quarantine issue. Trapeze Artist is going to be inoculated and I think they'd love to take him to Hong Kong, but they won’t get him out of there," he said.
"I think we need to get people's heads together and figure that out because they are too close a trading partner and jurisdiction for us to be alienated from at the moment."
McGrath said he doubted the race would reach prominence in Hong Kong until the quarantine issue was addressed.
"Tony was here and he sampled it first hand and he loved it and was thrilled to be a part of it," he said. "But for all the publicity that the race is getting, it hasn't hit the headlines in Hong Kong."
"There was 12 pages of racing for the local racing yesterday and nothing regarding The Everest and that's probably reflecting the situation with the quarantine, I think that's something for everyone to keep an eye out for."