RACING NEWS BRIEF
Monday, 27 January 2014: Waller Imports; Bull Point; Overreach; Cauthen; San Diego; Cyril Small; Peter Mertens
WALLER’S NEW IMPORTS
Another classy import has landed in Australia to be trained by Chris Waller.
Dansili gelding Now’s The Time, a winner of a 1700m race at Longchamp for Alain de Royer Dupre, will count as one of the best bred imports to join the Waller team.
His dam is Royer Dupre’s former champion mare Pride, a daughter of Peintre Celebre who won three G1 races including the 2006 Hong Kong Cup and was second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Reliable Man, who went to stud in New Zealand last spring after winning last year’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick for Waller, has shuttled to Europe where Pride will be among the mares he will cover while standing in Germany this year.
Waller’s new imports also include Circus Turn, a Street Cry gelding formerly trained in the UK by Sir Michael Stoute for Queen Elizabeth. Stoute gave Circus Turn seven starts for two wins at Goodwood and Sandown Park.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained Bull Point has become the talk of Melbourne ahead of his southern debut at Caulfield next Saturday.
The exciting three-year-old is the horse the spring passed by as Waterhouse spelled him after his amazing effort for third in the G1 Golden Rose won by $18 million colt Zoustar at Rosehill in September when he came from five lengths last at the 600m.
Damien Oliver attracted more attention to Bull Point when he decided to take up the offer to ride him in his Melbourne campaign over the highly regarded Prince Harada from the Tony Vasil stable.
We’ll know if Oliver is a good judge after Saturday when Bull Point clashes with Prince Harada (Blake Shinn) in the Manfred Stakes.
The Gai Waterhouse stable did its best to keep the lid on the setback suffered by Golden Slipper winner Overreach in Melbourne that has ruled her out for the autumn.
The first inkling of a problem surfaced last week when Overreach was not among the Waterhouse’s entries for the Newmarket Handicap.
Waterhouse has since been coy about the extent of the filly’s problems apart from confirming that she is going back to owner George Altomonte's Corumbene Stud for another spell.
A Melbourne campaign for top Kiwi three-year-old Cauthen is in limbo after his first-up defeat as a hot favourite at Trentham on Saturday.
“If he had run up to his Melbourne spring form he would have won that easily,” said the colt’s disappointed trainer Andrew Campbell.
“Put it this way, it wasn’t the result we were looking for when he’s meant to be catching a plane.
Any plans we’ve got for him are in a bit of disarray.”
Meanwhile Inglis Classic flop Vinnie Eagle has returned to New Zealand for a short spell.
Trainer Tony Pike has reported to Sydney stewards that Vinnie Eagle had no obvious problems and in his opinion the poor performance by the previously unbeaten youngster was due to heat stress.
Peter Snowden has tabbed San Diego as his leading contender for the $500,000 Australian Guineas at Flemington with stablemate Complacent to stay in Sydney.
San Diego was runner-up in the G3 Norman Robinson Stakes at Caulfield in October before he failed in the Victoria Derby behind Polanski and Complacent.
He spelled in Victoria and is slated to run second up in the Australian Guineas after resuming in the G3 C.S. Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 15 while Complacent is set to resume in the Hobartville Stakes at Rosehill on March 1.
Still on the Guineas and Bart and James Cummings have added Eurozone, Brook Road and Shamalia as late entries for the March 1 feature.
NEVER TOO OLD
Veteran Queensland jockey Cyril Small broke an eight year drought when he rode his first Brisbane winner since 2005 at Doomben last week.
Small still boots home his share of winners out of town but a city win was a reminder of the time he was constantly in the headlines as the popular rider of Queensland star Vo Rogue.
Small rode Vo Rogue in 68 of his 83 starts and was aboard in 22 of the grand front runner’s 26 wins.
Small is now 55 and has outlasted Vo Rogue, who died in 2012 at the age of 28.
With Small’s win the question of who is Australia’s oldest active jockey riding regularly at TAB meetings is again on the board.
Canberra’s Kevin Sweeney is certainly a candidate after he celebrated his 60th birthday earlier this month.
ANXIOUS WAIT MERTENS
It will be March before popular Victorian jockey Peter Mertens gets a clear picture of when he can contemplate a return to the saddle.tens
Mertens turns 51 on March 4 and his best birthday present will be a positive report from a specialist on how the injuries he suffered in a nasty race fall at Hamilton in November have mended.
He suffered a collapsed lung, fractured right ankle and left shoulder, three broken ribs and damaged ligaments in a knee when he was speared into the turf after his mount broke down.
The injuries left him in a wheel chair for a month and he still has a knee in a brace and wears a protective moon boot on one foot.
He realizes he will need a lot of physiotherapy to regain his fitness but is adamant he is not contemplating retirement.
“At the time I thought my career would be over. I admit I was pretty worried,” he said.
“But I never had one thought about giving riding away.”
He also has a special incentive driving him to get back to riding as soon as possible.
His 16-old son Beau has begun an apprenticeship with Cranbourne trainer Michael Kent and is close to getting his clearance to ride in races.
“My last ambition is to ride against Beau and have a photo of father and son in a close finish,” Mertens said.
Mertens has ridden more than 2500 winners but his career could have ended in 1989 when he broke his neck in a fall at Pakenham that sidelined him for 14 months.