Friday, December 1, 2023

New kid on the block! The best moment of the NSW racing season

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It was a memorable racing season across New South Wales and it even came down to the final few days with Aaron Bullock winning the Australian jockeys’ premiership.

Our Sydney-based editorial team has joined forces and ranked their best 10 moments and, boy, there were some big ones!



■ Give us your opinions and best moments in the comments section below.

10. J-Mac’s ride on Spangler in the Provincial-Midway Championships

One of the best rides you will ever witness was what James McDonald produced to get the Kris Lees-trained Spangler home in this year’s running of the Provincial-Midway Championships Final. From barrier 15, James McDonald somehow managed to have his mount find the rail, travelling midfield. McDonald rode the rail, saving every inch of ground aboard Spangler before easing across the heels of True Crime and from there the pair stole the show as the grey kicked away to win in dominant fashion.

9. Haggas and Marquand again in Dubai Honour’s Queen Elizabeth romp

It was shaping as a race of the ages with local champ Anamoe set to clash with the English raider Dubai Honour, coming into the race off a Ranvet Stakes demolition job. But similar to what we witnessed with Haggas’ former star Addeybb and Verry Elleegant in 2021, it was the overseas raider coming out on top with Marquand saluting for a third time in the weight-for-age race from as many rides. Dubai Honour and Anamoe locked horns at the 300m mark but in the end it was a one act affair with the English horse running away late to take out Sydney’s premier middle distance trophy. In what would be the final run of Anamoe’s career, he would stick on to run third behind a fast-finishing Mo’unga.

8. Aaron Bullock’s incredible season

Despite rarely riding lighter than 57.5kg, Aaron Bullock had one of the greatest seasons as a jockey, booting home 207½ winners to claim the National Jockeys’ Premiership. It came down to a race between Bullock and Queensland’s premier rider, James Orman, who even rode at Toowoomba last Saturday following his book of rides at Eagle Farm. But 13 winners across the final four days of the season saw Bullock wrap up the Australian Jockeys’ Premiership for the first time.

7. Apprentices’ battle – Lloyd v Gibbons

One of the more stacked apprentice crops to come through the Sydney ranks in modern memory and it provided a thrilling battle for the title with it coming down to the last day between Zac Lloyd and Dylan Gibbons. Gibbons was four clear at the start of July but the red-hot form of Lloyd saw him wrestle that back and take a lead of three win going into the final metro race of the season and he was able to lock it up with a win aboard handy three-year-old Insurrection. When was the last time you saw apprentices finish second, third and fourth in the Sydney jockeys’ premiership which is a testament to seasons the young men had. Tyler Schiller, last season’s winner and third behind Lloyd in 2022/23, was also able to become the first apprentice in 15 years to win a Sydney Group 1 when he paired with Mariamia in The Galaxy. Only three weeks later, Gibbons matched his mate and rival when claiming his maiden Group 1 aboard Explosive Jack in the Sydney Cup.

6. Changing of the guard: I Wish I Win flies home to win the TJ Smith

This signalled the official changing of the guard in the sprinting ranks with I Wish I Win and Giga Kick fighting out the finish in the TJ Smith Stakes. For a second it looked as though the old champ Nature Strip could be in for his fourth win in the race but he just couldn’t go with the new kids on the block over the final 200m. It was The Everest champ Giga Kick and I Wish I Win who came with the runs late to battle it out but it was the latter coming out on top. Trained as a sprinter for his autumn campaign after a spring culminating in a Golden Eagle win, I Wish I Win had put the writing on the wall via the Black Caviar Lightning and Newmarket Handicap but saved his best for grand final day when coming from last to take out Australia’s premier autumn sprint.

5. Mr Brightside goes back-to-back in the Doncaster

The horse that delivered Ben and JD Hayes with their first Saturday metropolitan, stakes and Group 1 winner was back for history in search of a second straight Doncaster Mile. Set to carry 5.5kg more than what he did in 2022, history was against Mr Brightside, but the reigning champ was too tough as he held off a fast finishing My Oberon and Nugget. Only Happy Clapper, Winx, Sacred Falls, More Joyous and Sunline carried more than what Mr Brightside did to victory and he became the 10th horse to win the race in consecutive years. It delivered Zac Purton with his third victory at Group 1 level for the autumn after he got the late call up to ride Mr Brightside.

4. Anamoe’s four Sydney Group 1 wins

Anamoe’s success at Group 1 level throughout the 2022/2023 season has only been equalled or bettered by three horses since the Group and Listed system was introduced in 1979/80, those being Winx twice, Kingston Town and Weekend Hussler. Four of his six Group 1 wins came in Sydney, kicking off with the Winx Stakes and George Main Stakes in the spring before returning in autumn to win the Chipping Norton Stakes and George Ryder Stakes. His swansong came via the Queen Elizabeth Stakes when running a gallant third to English raider Dubai Honour. Anamoe is now preparing for his first season at stud at Darley’s Kelvinside property where he commands a $121,000 service fee.

3. Chris Waller’s 2YO Triple Crown

Champion trainer Chris Waller dispelled the myth about his ability to get the big results with juveniles once and for all when he completed a stable clean sweep of Sydney’s two-year-old Triple Crown. Waller claimed his maiden Golden Slipper with Shinzo prior to Militarize taking out the Sires’ Produce Stakes/Champagne Stakes double. There was a strong deal of international flavour added to it with world class hoop Ryan Moore saluting aboard Shinzo while the Joao ‘Magic Man’ Moreira paired with Militarize in his Group 1 double.

2. Major Beel delivers Gai’s final Group 1 piece with the Australian Derby

Racing Hall of Famer Gai Waterhouse is on the honour roll for almost all of Australia’s majors but the Australian Derby was the one race that has eluded her during her remarkable career. The $51 outsider Major Beel changed that with a gutsy all-the-way win in the three-year-old classic. It was the only Australian major she had not won up until that point and the way in which Major Beel did it was fitting — tough as nails.

1. New kid on the block – Giga Kick wins The Everest

Giga Kick and Clayton Douglas — the most inexperienced trainer with the youngest horse in the field trumped the world’s best sprinters in the 2022 edition of The Everest. Snapped up late in the piece by slot owner James Harron, the unbeaten sprinter was regarded as a left field selection having ticked off his maiden at Sale only months earlier. The $15m sprint looked Nature Strip’s ($1.80) for the taking following the scratching of Lost And Running on race morning but with 53kg and Craig Williams on his back, the three-year-old Giga Kick was too powerful. He joined Yes Yes Yes as the second three-year-old to win the race despite technically still being two until the following Wednesday.

Top 5 NSW Jockeys’ Premiership (metro)

1. James McDonald (96)
2. Zac Lloyd (76)
3. Dylan Gibbons (72)
4. Tyler Schiller (61)
5. Nash Rawiller (53)

Top 5 NSW Trainers’ Premiership (metro)

1. Chris Waller (139)
2. Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott (71)
3. James Cummings (70)
4. Ciaron Maher & David Eustace (43)
5. Bjorn Baker (40)

Top 5 NSW Jockeys’ Premiership (statewide)

1. Aaron Bullock (207 ½)
2. Ben Looker (118 ½)
3. James McDonald (117)
4. Dylan Gibbons (112 ½)
5. Tyler Schiller (111)

Top 5 NSW Trainers’ Premiership (statewide)

1. Chris Waller (178)
2. Kris Lees (129 ½ ½ ½)
3. James Cummings (120)
4. Annabel Neasham (106 ½ ½)
5. Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott (106)

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