One of racing’s great enjoyments is witnessing the start of a champion’s career.
Those who saw Weekend Hussler (Hussonet-Weekend Beauty) absolutely donkey-lick his rivals in the time-honored Caulfield Guineas (Aus-I) over a mile in Australia on Oct. 13 knew what they were watching.
“I said a month ago he was not just potentially the best 3-year-old in Australia, but the best horse,” said his trainer, Ross McDonald, before the race. After it, everyone knew he was right.
Weekend Hussler made it four wins from five starts with a stunning effort that just screamed champion. He sat back in fifth spot one off the fence in the early stages, but was bumped onto the rail -- where his rider, Brad Rawiller, did not want to be.
“When you have a ride in a big group I race, you have to do everything to give him the best run. When you are on the favorite and a horse you just know is way better than everything else in the race, you have to be even more careful,” said Rawiller. “So when he was on the fence I knew I was vulnerable, as I could have been hooked up in traffic. That is why I went early on him.”
Weekend Hussler took off three furlongs from home, stunning the crowd by circling the field in a move that took away the collective breath of the huge crowd. In four massive strides, he had raced around the leading bunch and reached the lead upon straightening.
“I had a lot of horse at that stage, and he was traveling so well. I knew it was too soon to make my run, but I just did not want to be caught if back markers made early runs. So I let him go, and he just exploded. This horse is a freak. The best I’ve ever been on.”
Weekend Hussler accelerated down the home straight, racing away to win by nearly three lengths from the hard-finishing Scenic Shot (Scenic-Daughter’s Charm), who stormed home from mid-field. Marching (Commands-Step) ran a cracking VRC Derby trial, rattling home from well back also. But the winner, having his first go at stakes level, his first go at a mile, and his first run at Caulfield, was too dominant.
He took his lifetime earnings to $660,000. His only loss was his first racetrack outing, when he ran fourth in a six-furlong maiden in early August.
To rise from that to megastar status in just eight weeks has been astonishing. But his trainer, Ross McDonald, isn’t all that surprised. “I told his owners when he was a 2-year-old that they had a potential superstar on their hands, and we were aiming at the Golden Slipper. But he went shin sore and we never got to even race as a juvenile. That may be a blessing in disguise, as he has grown into something very, very special.”
McDonald would not be drawn into where or when Weekend Hussler would race again. “I’m heading to the bar for a beer with the owners. Tomorrow we will look at him and assess things,” he said.
Weekend Hussler is owned by a syndicate of women who took ownership after their husbands bought the horse. One of them, Sue Rush, said, “We told the men not to buy into the horse when Ross offered him to them as a yearling, so they bought into him and gave the ownership to the wives as a way of making it all right. I don’t think we will be sharing any of the prize money with them.”
The only negative about the rise of Weekend Hussler as a potential global megastar is that he is, alas, a gelding.