Saturday’s Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) was yet another example of how quickly fortunes can rise and fall in the fluid world of racing.
Hawkes Racing had All Too Hard (Casino Prince – Helsinge, by Desert Sun) primed to blitz his lesser-performed opposition 24 hours early but the team decided on a cautious reaction to a minor ailment, withdrawing the expensive colt from the $500,000 event.
The Hawkes men had no compunction about scratching All Too Hard after the CF Orr and Futurity Stakes winner showed signs of a cold, which cost him a shot at becoming the first horse since Mahogany in 1994 to complete the Caulfield Guineas and Australian Guineas double.
“You wouldn’t have known (All Too Hard had an issue), if we hadn’t taken his temperature this morning we wouldn’t have known because he licked the bin, looked bright as a button and looked normal,” Wayne Hawkes, who trains All Too Hard in partnership with his father John and brother Michael, said.
“In human terms he has got a cold and for a $20 million colt we can’t take the risk.”
The reverse was true for prominent Victorian owner Jonathan Munz and trainer Jim Conlan, they had nothing to lose by running emerging colt Ferlax (Pentire – Legs Akimbo, by Marscay) in the Australian Guineas after wins on Victorian provincial tracks at his three starts.
Ferlax took on Group 1 company after winning in Rating 68 grade at Sale but he did beat older horses comfortably at his last run before his shot at the top level.
Stephen Baster rode Ferlax positively early in the Australian Guineas, pushing forward to find his mount the perfect position behind the leader from barrier eight in a move that would subsequently land him a 12-meeting careless riding suspension.
Baster initially attempted to steer Ferlax to the outside of the front-runner Ajeeb (Al Maher – Destiny, by Bureaucracy) at the 400 metres but had to go back to the inside to find the room required for his mount to dash home late. Ferlax quickened well to break more than a length clear before holding off a determined bid for victory from the Nigel Blackiston-trained You’re So Good (Savabeel – Lightning Spur, by Flying Spur) by a length while the Redoute’s Choice (Danehill – Shantha’s Choice, by Canny Lad) colt Sheer Talent (Redoute’s Choice – St Katherine, by Barathea) was third.
“I galloped him on Tuesday where I put the blinkers on and just sat him off a horse, an ordinary horse, but I sat him back off it and he gave me a great feel,” Conlan said.
“We’ve just got to be careful about how we place him now because this is obviously a stallion-making race and he has got a nice pedigree, he’s out of a nice Marscay mare.
“We’ve got Sydney coming up but it might even be ideal to back off him and look at maybe going to the All Aged (Stakes) or maybe even going to the Stradbroke (Handicap) while he is still going to get in okay with the weights.”
Ferlax became the 12th Group 1 winner and the 37th stakes victory for Rich Hill Stud stallion Pentire (Be My Guest – Gull Nook, by Mill Reef). The colt’s dam Legs Akimbo (Marscay – Leggings, by Tights) fetched just $800 at a broodmare auction in New Zealand in 2012 before Munz bought the mare privately earlier this year.
Dean Hawthorne Bloodstock paid $NZ180,000 for Ferlax at the 2011 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale at Karaka. The three-year-old has now earned $327,000 in four starts.