The $161,000, Group 3, Southern Cross Stakes at Royal Randwick saw a seasoned group of Sydney sprinters opposed by an untapped talent in the form of Brutal (by O’Reilly) and ultimately rule the roost, Eckstein (by I Am Invincible) and Dothraki (by Mossman) narrowly defeating the previously unbeaten 3-year-old home.
Eckstein and Sam Clipperton (white) who was clocking his first win back at Randwick after two and a half years riding at Sha Tin, picture Stevehart.com
Sent to post a well-backed favourite of the competitive 1200-metre contest, Brutal didn’t do too much wrong in an event that witnessed the ‘new kid on the block’ positioned close to the pace — albeit travelling wide and covering a tad extra ground.
Asked to make his winning challenge halfway down in the Randwick straight, the progressive 3-year-old son of O’Reilly kept gaining ground on the early leader Dothraki, but never appeared to be doing enough to hold off the strong late challenge of Eckstein down the outside of the field.
At the winning post, the 5-year-old mare Eckstein finished best to score by a half-neck from the 8-year-old gelding Dothraki, with the 3-year-old colt Brutal finishing only a half-head adrift of the runner-up.
The trio were returned at $31.00, $12.00 and $1.95 favourite respectively.
Though Brutal tasted defeat for the first time in four starts, the youngster’s effort was full of merit and all the indications are that he is in for a notable autumn campaign. After all, the collective earnings of the first two proven Group winning sprinters across the line now exceeds $2.5 million.
Specifically, Eckstein took her race record to seven wins and five placings from 29 starts, for prizemoney now totalling $1,018,535. The runner-up Dothraki was placing for the 23rd time in a career that also features eight victories and earnings of $1,591,535.
Illustrating the performances of all three placegetters was the smart winning time of 1m09.16s, the final 600m being clocked as a slick 34.17s.
Equally eye-catching were the fast finishing performances of Lanciato (5th) and Noire (6th). In a race which seems certain to produce its share of winners over the coming weeks, the pair rattled home over the final 250 metres and also look to be on track for rewarding campaigns during a period historically known as the Sydney autumn racing carnival.
Southern Cross Stakes, photo finish picture ATC