Darley’s head trainer Peter Snowden described the speed of the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) as “ridiculous” but he was not complaining after Commands (Danehill – Cotehele House, by My Swanee) colt Epaulette (Commands – Accessories, by Singspiel) claimed Saturday’s weight-for-age event.
Local favourite Buffering (Mossman – Action Annie, by Anabaa) and BTC Cup winner Your Song (Fastnet Rock – Zembu, by Fuji Kiseki) poured on the early pressure before Epaulette came from beyond midfield to score his second victory at Group 1 level in emphatic fashion. Sea Siren (Fastnet Rock – Express A Smile, by Success Express) ran well at her first outing in Coolmore’s silks to grab second ahead of Buffering, who held on for third.
“It was a ridiculous speed really and coming to the corner I was quietly confident he would pick up the leaders,” Snowden said. “They set it up for the backmarkers and he was Johnny on the spot.”
Epaulette won the Golden Rose (1400m) as spring three-year-old before he began his autumn preparation with a solid second to champion mare Black Caviar (Bel Esprit – Helsinge, by Desert Sun) in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick in April.
However, Epaulette disappointed Snowden and Darley with his midfield effort behind Black Caviar’s half-brother All Too Hard (Casino Prince – Helsinge, by Desert Sun) in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m). The effort forced Snowden to rethink Epaulette’s training ahead of his first appearance of the Brisbane winter carnival in the Doomben 10,000.
“We call it boot camp out there where he did a bit of jumping which was something new for him,” Snowden said. “He had a bit of down time after the All Aged and it worked wonders for him.
“I was going to keep the winkers on him but (jockey) Kerrin (McEvoy) was firm in his belief that the visor would be a better option and he pulled the right rein.”
Epaulette’s Doomben 10,000 victory left him one Group 1 short of matching his three-quarter brother Helmet’s (Exceed And Excel – Accessories, by Singspiel) tally of wins at the highest level, which will leave Darley with an interesting array of decisions at the end of the younger sibling’s racing days as the operation considers whether to stand both horses at stud.
Sadly, the Doomben 10,000 was the last outing for dual Group 1 winner Ranginrangdoo (Pentire – She Wishes, by Kenfair) after the Chris Waller-trained gelding sustained serious leg injuries before the home turn. Vets had no option other than to euthanize the grand galloper.