Guts. Courage. Grit. Determination. They were all in evidence in an epic renewal of the $600,000, Group 1, Sky Racing Rosehill Guineas (2000m) run at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney that witnessed The Autumn Sun (by Redoute’s Choice) enhance his imposing race record by recording his fifth Group 1 victory at just the colt’s ninth career start.
Asked to race beyond a metric mile for the first time in his brilliant career, The Autumn Sun displayed another quality which had not previously been raised in discussions involving the mighty colt. Put to the sword in a middle-distance slog on a significantly rain-affected surface, the top-quality son of Redoute’s Choice came to win his race not once but twice, holding off the sustained challenge of Kiwi rival Arrogant (by Ocean Park) after a compelling dog-fight over the final 200m.
At the end of a time honoured 3-year-old feature that was run in a time of 2m07.28s which clearly illustrated the demanding nature of the conditions, The Autumn Sun ultimately got home by a head, with the runner-up Arrogant finishing a further two-and-a-quarter lengths clear of the minor placegetter Chapada (by Bullet Train).
Further illustrating The Autumn Sun’s feat is the fact that very recent Group 1 New Zealand Derby winner Crown Prosecutor could do no better than ninth, finishing close to 13 lengths in arrears of the winner after making the running in the 2000m event.
The Autumn Sun and Kerrin McEvoy start to prevail over Arrogant (NZ) and Craig Williams, picture Sportpix.com.au
Asked for his initial assessment of the contest immediately after the triumph, winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy said: “It was only steadily run and J-Mac [James McDonald] was up front on the Kiwi, the winner of the Derby over there, and I was wary of how easy he was getting it.
“So we slipped forward from the half mile. I moved into it nicely and I hit the front and thought ‘I’m here, I had to commit again’.
“He hit the front early enough really and we were just in a case at the furlong where I had a slight advantage. He showed an enormous amount of grit because he wasn’t really liking that ground — it’s a real heavy track — and he has proved to me today that he prefers a nicer surface.
“I got strict instructions, no heart attacks today. It wasn’t a heart attack at the 600m but it was a bit at the 100m.
“He’s a real gritty colt and his record suggests that. He toughed it out at 2000m, his first try at the trip, and he toughed it out really well.”
McEvoy concluded: “To his credit, he was able to hold the second horse off. He didn’t really like the really heavy track. Once he saw that other horse he went again. He’s a top colt and his record shows that… It’s nice to be part of his career.”
In his analysis of what had just taken place, winning trainer Chris Waller was also keen to recognise the role managing co-owner John Messara played in the win.
“Mr Messara is a good sportsman, and that’s why the horse was here racing,” remarked Waller.
“There was concern earlier in the week whether he should be running on a heavy track, because he’s still young and not a horse that’s fully matured. It’s through his sportsmanship that we brought him here and he’s a very good horse.”
On the performance itself, Waller observed: “That was a good test the last 200m. The inside horse was laying all over him, but he just didn’t lie down. He’s a really tough horse. We were really testing him today over 2000m and only a champion comes out like he’s done and he’s done it.
“I could see as soon as they went 400m it was going to be a really tough staying test and that’s the way it worked out. Just look at the margins they’ve come home in — it was pretty close from winner to second, but behind that there were some really tired horses.”
Owned in partnership by Arrowfield Pastoral Pty Ltd and Hermitage, The Autumn Sun has now won eight of his nine career starts and $3,489,121 in prizemoney. Asked about the colt’s future, Waller responded by stating: “That’ll be up to the owners to decide whether he goes to stud. I get the importance of the horse’s value.”
The Autumn Sun was returned the $1.40 favourite, the runner-up Arrogant at $26.00 and the minor placegetter Chapala also at $26.00.
One wager on the race saw a punter bet $150,000 at $1.42 on The Autumn Sun with tabcorp.com.au.
Kerrin McEvoy, picture Sportpix.com.au
Rosehill Guineas, photo finish picture ATC
What the beaten jockeys said:
James McDonald (Crown Prosecutor): “Probably needs to be ridden with cover to relax better.”
Damian Lane (Surely Sacred): “Very happy with him, just peaked on his run late in the heavy ground, but he’ll be better for that.”
Blake Shinn (Aramayo): “I thought he ran well, was sort of behind The Autumn Sun throughout, followed him to the bend, he stuck on well, I think he will appreciate the step up in trip for the Derby.”
Opie Bosson (Vernanme): “Got a soft cosy run, but he was the first one beat.”Craig Williams (Arrogant): “I was very happy with him, he had the right profile, especially on the ground conditions today, the winner was favourite for a reason. He’s a really good horse, I think he idled a bit in front, the eventual winner, but my horse really made a race of it. Very proud of his effort.”
Damien Oliver (Chapada): “Good run, just got a little bit held up coming around the turn, but I thought he ran really well.”
Hugh Bowman (Dealmaker): “Consistent run from a consistent horse.”
Sam Clipperton (Purple Sector): “Was not a bad run, he just doesn’t handle the track, but I think he’s got a bit of quality about him.”
Jason Collett (Costello): “Lovely Derby trial.”
Brenton Avdulla (Yulong Tavion): “He had every chance, he gave me a good ride, just couldn’t quicken with them, but he actually finished his race off okay.”
Michael Walker (Ablestock): “Didn’t handle the track, but a bit outclassed.”
The Autumn Sun and Kerrin MvEvoy prevail over Arrogant (NZ) and Craig Williams inside, picture Stevehart.com.au