Daily News Wrap

6 min read

Harlem on Hong Kong path

G1 Australian Cup winner Harlem (GB) (Champs Elysees {GB}) could be set for a trip to Hong Kong later this campaign with his owners eyeing the G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup on Champions Day in April.

Co-trainer David Hayes confirmed on RSN that the 6-year-old, who made it back-to-back upset wins in the Group 1 weight-for-age race, would go to the G1 Ranvet S, on March 23, but instead of going to the G1 Tancred S. as he did last year, was likely to head to Hong Kong.

"The Tancred is in the back of our mind, but the plan at the moment is to run him in the Ranvet and run him in the Hong Kong Queen Elizabeth," Hayes said.

"He's been invited back, so provided he runs a reasonable race on his Sydney leg at his next start, we’ll probably go that way."

The Hong Kong option only became a reality during the week, when the Australia government had announced it had temporarily lifted quarantine regulations which had prevented passage of horses from Hong Kong back to Australia over the past 18 months.

Hayes said he thought difficult barriers had been costly for the hopes of fourth-placed So Si Bon (So You Think {NZ}) and seventh-placed Sikandarabad (Ire) (Dr Fong {USA}) in the Australian Cup.

He described imported stayer Muntahaa (Ire) (Dansili {GB}) as 'ring rusty' and said he would improve with racing this preparation.

"Watch for him when the races get out to a mile and a half to two miles."

Sword in limbo for now

Trainer Lauren Brennan says a pending sale will be the determining factor to whether Sword In Stone (NZ) (Redwood {GB}) heads to Brisbane for the winter carnival.

Sword In Stone hasn't raced since finishing third in the G2 Waikato Guineas last month, having missed a start in the G1 NZ Derby, and overseas interests are circling.

But while that process is taking place, Brennan plans to send Sword In Stone to a couple of races at Ellerslie over the next four weeks before targeting the G1 Queensland Derby in June.

Sword In Stone

“He is under offer and we are just waiting to hear back after completing the vetting process,” she said.

“Obviously if the sale goes through then he will be on his way, but if it doesn’t then we are looking at where to go with him next."

“I think the Queensland Winter carnival is the best option so we will work out a plan on what he has to do to get there from where we are now.”

“We would look to run him in the Rough Habit Plate (Gr.3, 2000m) and then the Queensland Derby (Gr.1,2400m) but at the moment he wouldn’t have enough money in the bank to qualify,” she said.

Bowman exit explained

Hugh Bowman has confirmed the sudden illness of his wife Christine was behind his sudden departure from Flemington on Saturday.

Bowman confirmed to stewards on Sunday that Christine required medical attention and having been advised after his ride on Osborne Bulls (Street Cry {Ire}) in the G1 Newmarket Hcp, he decided to leave for Sydney immediately, foregoing his ride on G1 Australian Cup favourite Avilius (GB) (Pivotal {GB}).

Bowman has advised that his wife's condition has improved and he is expected to resume riding this Wednesday.

Avilius was ridden by Corey Brown in Bowman's absence and he finished fifth as a $1.65 favourite.

Hayes has faith in Fundamentalist

David Hayes believes a Group 1 breakthrough is not far away for Fundamentalist (Not A Single Doubt), who secured her fifth Group 1 placing in the past nine months when edged out by The Autumn Sun (Redoute's Choice) in Saturday's Randwick Guineas.

That was the second time she had been placed behind the star colt, having finished third in the G1 JJ Atkins S. while she was also close-up against her own sex in the G1 Thousand Guineas, the G1 Empire Rose and the G1 Surround S.

Co-trainer Hayes told RSN that while frustrating to see her beaten in two top-flight races in the past week by a combined margin of 0.3l, he felt her time would come.

"Five times in a Group 1 she has just been nutted. She's a legitimate Group 1 horse. She’ll get her day, because she's honest and she fights," he said.

"She got beaten an inch last week and yesterday, she brained the horse she got beat by there (Nakeeta Jane), and yesterday, The Autumn Sun put in a Dulcify performance."

"It was just incredible that she could get beaten with the gap she had on him with 100m to go, but it was a mighty run and she ran right away from the others and she got beaten by a champion."

Hayes said the G1 Doncaster Mile on April 6 was the obvious next target while he didn't rule out a trip to Hong Kong for the G1 Champions Mile later in April.

Five horse fall

Four jockeys were taken to hospital but have reportedly suffered no serious injuries after a five-horse fall at Tamworth.

The incident occurred in a 1400m maiden when Greg Ryan's mount Son Of Dun (Dundeel), who was racing just forward of midfield, fell around 400m into the race.

It caused a chain reaction that unseated follow riders Josh Adams, Rachel King, Wendy Peel and Kath Bell-Pitomac.

Adams (leg), King (collarbone) and Bell-Pitomac (concussion) were the most seriously affected, with Ryan and Peel somehow avoiding injury in the nasty pile up.

Later in the day young local handler Cody Walker produced a top training performance with Unbiased (Medaglia D'oro {USA}) in the $150,000 Country Championships Qualifier.

"He is a ripper," said Walker, who had to strike a balancing act to keep the horse eligible for the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final at Randwick on April 6.

Under the rules of the Country Championships, horses can have no more than 20 lifetime starts to run in a qualifier and Walker held back the 6-year-old with a view to gaining a start in the rich final.

Unbiased, which is owned by Walker's parents, hadn't raced since May last year and came into Sunday's race with the benefit of four barrier trials.

"You doubt yourself all week, wondering whether or not you have them right, but when I saw him tracking up at the 600m, I said to mum he would be in the finish," Walker said. "It's a dream come through, it means a lot."