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Daily News Wrap

9 min read

All-Star aim for Queen

Grant and Alana Williams and Bob Peters will be out to defend their All-Star Mile crown won by Regal Power (Pierro) in 2020 with multiple Group 1 winner Arcadia Queen (Pierro).

The mare is the only nomination for Peters and he is hopeful she can earn the full support of voters from WA.

“Of course you never know how the voting will go, but we believe Arcadia Queen is one of the best mares in the country so we’re hopeful that she will get a run in the All-Star Mile,” Peters told Racing.com.

Arcadia Queen

“We haven’t decided where she will start her preparation yet, but she’s back in work and we’ll look to trial her at home over the next few weeks, then come up with a plan to bring her over to Melbourne and build a campaign towards the All-Star Mile.

“She showed what she’s capable of during the Spring Carnival, and if she comes back in that sort of form then she’ll be very competitive in any race she lines up in. I was obviously pretty pleased with what we managed to achieve in the All-Star Mile last year, and I believe she is probably our best hope for this year’s race.

“The plan is to bring Regal Power over to Melbourne at some point too, I didn’t want to split the vote but we’d obviously love to see him defend The All-Star Mile so we’ll be relying on a wildcard to get him into the race. I won’t be picking up the phone to (Racing Victoria’s EGM – Racing) Greg Carpenter just yet though – I’ll probably leave that until a bit closer to the race.” 

September to target Flemington features

Chris Waller will play to the strength of his G1 Coolmore Stud S. winner September Run (Exceed And Excel) this autumn, with the filly set to contest the G1 Black Caviar Lightning S. and G1 Newmarket H. down the Flemington straight, a course which she is unbeaten over.

"We will probably head to the Lightning first-up with her and then head second-up into the Newmarket,” Waller told Racenet.

“She is just deadly up the straight.”

September Run

Isotope on song

Tony Gollan believes Isotope (Deep Field) is on song for next week’s R. Listed Magic Millions 3YO Guineas after the star filly finished third in a jump-out at the Gold Coast on Tuesday morning.

"I'm very happy with her, the most important thing for me was that she was able to begin and take a position and that's one thing we saw today," Gollan told SEN Track.

"It's important (in high pressure races) that you can hold your position and the most important thing for us next week is the barrier draw, if she can draw kindly from what we've seen today she can jump and hold a spot in the first three or four pairs.

"Ryan (Maloney, jockey) was happy to come back and she was able to finish off the trial really nicely. She's looking for the 1400 metres as we know and she's in great shape."

Shaquero bypasses trial

Chris Waller opted to bypass Tuesday’s jump-outs at the Gold Coast with G3 Breeders’ Plate winner Shaquero (Shalaa {Ire}) in favour of running him at the track on Saturday.

Shaquero

“Shaquero will not trial this morning and will instead race Saturday,” Chris Waller Racing posted on Twitter.

“I’ve been happy with his work over the past week and expect him to run well Saturday, proving himself the chance to make the final (Magic Millions 2YO Classic) field.”

Vale Jenny Churchill

Thoroughbred breeding industry stalwart Jennifer Churchill sadly passed away aged 87 on Sunday, January 3.

A highly-regarded journalist who had a thorough knowledge of pedigrees, she also dabbled in breeding, standing a stallion and night watching during the foaling season, while she was also a long-serving committeewoman of Thoroughbred Breeders NSW.

Course the key for Vassilator

It’s not a surprise that trainer Colin Little has aimed Vassilator (NZ) (Zacinto {GB}) at a Flemington 1400 metre race, the Listed Chester Manifold S., as he is the epitome of a track and distance specialist.

Vassilator has the unique distinction of his four career wins all being over 1400 metres at Flemington, which is again the track and distance of his next assignment on Saturday.

The son of Zacinto (GB) won at the track over 1400 metres at his last start and Little said Vassilator was a big, scopey horse who was suited by the wide expanses of Flemington.

Vassilator (NZ)

“It’s one of those things,” Little said. “He’s suited by the long run in and often there’s more pace on in races. He loves the space he can find there.”

Little said the key to Vassilator as he has aged is that he was a little easier on him in training.

“He likes that. He’s a very sound horse and he should have good longevity,” he said.

No rush for Freedman’s Rock

Anthony and Sam Freedman are keeping their sights lowered for impressive Warrnambool maiden winner Siren Rock (Lonhro), who will contest a benchmark race at Flemington on Saturday.

The gelding will be given the chance to progress through the grades with an aim to target the Adelaide carnival later in the year.

“It will be his third run on Saturday and that might just be enough for him at this stage,” Team Freedman's Racing Manager Brad Taylor told Racing.com.

“We will give him a freshen up. Thinking off the top of our heads, a race like the Adelaide Guineas, those races, might be nice for him at the back end of autumn.

“He is a horse we will take through the grades. We are in no rush to set the bar high, we will try and win a few more races and pick up prizemoney for the owners.

“That’s the first and foremost thing.”

No general admission

The Australian Turf Club (ATC) continues to take a strict COVID-safe approach on the advice of Racing NSW and the NSW Government Health Orders as the state continues to get a handle on the current COVID-19 situation.

Race meetings at Warwick Farm on Wednesday, Canterbury Park on Friday and Royal Randwick on Saturday will therefore be closed to general admission customers.

Australian targets 

Cambridge trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood are now looking further afield with G1 Zabeel Classic winner Concert Hall (NZ) (Savabeel).

Her trainers are now weighing up their options with the mare and a trip across the Tasman is on the cards.

“She has been really well after her win in the Zabeel Classic,” James said. “We are a little bit undecided as to what we do with her. I will most likely incorporate an Australian trip. 

“There are a number of options over there, but she will have another run in New Zealand and then work from there.”

Concert Hall (NZ)

Bosson to appeal 

Champion jockey Opie Bosson is appealing a suspension which has robbed him of two leading Group 1 rides and a chance of winning a fifth straight $1 million Doubletree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO.

Bosson was suspended on careless riding charges at Ellerslie on January 1 and his suspension began after racing on January 4 and ends after racing on January 28.

Bosson's agent Aidan Rodley said the jockey was appealing the penalty only.

Opie Bosson

He had bookings for favourites in two Group 1 races at Trentham on January 16 — Avantage (Fastnet Rock) in the JR & N Berkett Telegraph and Brando (NZ) Savabeel) in the Levin Classic and had leading chances for Matamata trainer Jamie Richards in both the Karaka Million 2YO and the Karaka Million 3YO Classic at Ellerslie on January 23.

Doors closed

Racing in both the UK and Scotland will continue behind closed doors, as new national lockdowns began at midnight on January 5. 

Cases of coronavirus are rising in both countries and their respective governments have imposed new COVID-19 restrictions. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cited the rising death toll in the past seven days and the new coronavirus variant that is widespread in the UK as the primary reasons for a third lockdown, which is expected to last until mid-February. 

The British Horseracing Authority confirmed via Twitter shortly after Johnson’s announcement that racing will continue without fans and with only essential personnel in attendance.

Vale David Thompson

David Thompson CBE, the owner, with his wife Patricia, of Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket, has died at the age of 84.

A proudly patriotic man whose numerous successful racehorses sported the stud’s red, white and blue colours, Thompson’s significant involvement in British racing and breeding began in 1975 with his purchase of Newmarket’s oldest stud farm, which was then in receivership.

The late David Thompson | Image courtesy of Cheveley Park Stud

Cheveley Park Stud is home to the six-strong stallion roster which is headed by Pivotal (GB), one of the most successful stallions of the modern era. 

Pivotal was the first homebred Group 1 winner for the Thompsons and, from a relatively humble beginning at stud, starting off at a fee of £6000 (AU$10,600) in 1997, he graduated to a high of £85,000 (AU$150,000) as his success grew. 

His 32 Group 1 winners around the world include the current French champion sire Siyouni (Fr), as well as Classic winners Sariska (GB), Saoire (GB) and Halfway To Heaven (Ire). Pivotal was also European champion broodmare sire in 2018 and 2019.

Sheppard retiring from US racing

Jonathan Sheppard, a Hall of Fame trainer whose horses excelled on the dirt, on turf and over steeplechase fences, will retire from American horse racing, but will continue to train a small stable in Ireland, he announced this week.

He has won 15 Eclipse Awards, behind only D. Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert, and his 11 individual Eclipse Award winners have included two Hall of Fame members, Augustin Stables’ Cafe Prince and Flatterer, the four-time champion, who was bred by Sheppard and William Pape, a long-time client and partner. Sheppard was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs in 1990.

Also among Sheppard’s Eclipse winners were Forever Together (USA) (Belong To Me {USA}), the 2008 female turf champion, and Informed Decision (USA) (Monarchos {USA}), the champion female sprinter the following year. Both were owned by George Strawbridge Jnr’s Augustin Stable. He also trained William T. Young’s Storm Cat (USA), a Grade 1 winner who became America’s foremost stallion in the 1990s.