By: Michael Lynch
Could more Victorian-trained fillies and mares be heading across the border to race in NSW this spring rather than chase the rich prizes in their home state?
Some fear it’s possible after Racing Victoria warned trainers off using products containing the compound Altrenogest (which is an element in a number of brand-name horse treatments), telling them it could potentially produce positive steroid readings.
The problem is, trainers statewide have been using the drug, which helps horsemen control the fertility cycle of fillies and mares, for some time.
Meanwhile, in NSW, stewards have a local rule that allows trainers to use the product, which stops fillies and mares coming into season during the periods of peak racing activity, as it is not deemed to be performance enhancing.
Trainers here can still use it, but to be sure that the drug has cleared their horse’s system they must stop any treatment a couple of days before they run, potentially minimising its effect. It’s a fine line they have to tread.
Winx, of course, is the best-known mare in the world but her trainer, Chris Waller, speaking on RSN radio on Friday, did not seem too concerned about his superstar coming to Melbourne to run under this new regime. He told the station he had worked her the Melbourne way of going this week and had earmarked the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington or the Caulfield Stakes as likely lead-ups to a bid for a record fourth Cox Plate.
Darren Weir says he’s the best sprinter he’s ever had anything to do with and local punters will get another chance to see Nature Strip scorch the turf at Moonee Valley on Saturday when he lines up in the group 2 McEwen Stakes over 1000 metres.
His target this spring is The Everest – if he can get into the field.
Negotiations with one slot holder over gaining a position in the race have foundered due to an inability to agree on a deal, but if Nature Strip wins as impressively as expected then pressure will intensify to find a way to get him into the field for Australia’s richest race.
Godolphin stable star Kementari went agonisingly close in last weekend’s big race, but with a stable that size there are always others pushing through as candidates for group 1 races.
Osborne Bulls is a winning machine, having scored eight times from his 11 starts.
Not surprisingly, such a record has earned him top weight in the Strathmore Community Bendigo Bank Stakes at the Valley, but Godolphin head trainer James Cummings has said that if he continues on his winning ways he, too, could chase group 1 status in Caulfield’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes later this month. A win here would surely do that.
Plenty of spring clues to be had at Rosehill on Saturday when there are four group 2 races and Waller has his usual battalion of contenders in all events.
Much interest will be on the performance of unbeaten colt The Autumn Sun, who looks a potential top liner. He resumes in the Stan Fox Stakes having won at group 1 level in Brisbane over the winter.