Meurice Stakes Claim to Australian Juvenile Crown

Meurice may have secured top honors in the national rankings for 2-year-olds with his success in the Champagne Stakes (Aus-I) at Randwick on April 14.

A tough colt by Zeditave son Strategic, the 147th Champagne winner started a huge day for the Gai Waterhouse barn, which won three of the four group I races on offer.

Golden Slipper and AJC Sires’ Produce (both Aus-I) victories at 1,200 and 1,400 meters by AUS$900,000 Bob Ingham purchases — Forensics and Camarilla — had left the top juvenile position an open issue.

Camarilla sought to close it over the usual 1,600 meters of the Champagne.

But Meurice, a rather luckless minor placegetter in both the earlier races and the only horse to contest all three group I heats — run on successive Saturdays — in all probability sealed the deal.

Camarilla (7-10 favorite) finished third, the pair split by Belong to Me son Solo Flyer (30-1), with the margins three parts of a length and two lengths. A damp oval was the main contributor to the 1:37.69 grossing more than four seconds over the race mark.

The Elusive Quality   filly should have at least shared the wire photos with Meurice (5-1), whom she’d beaten by two lengths in the Sires' Produce.

Camarilla was badly stripped when galloped on in mid-race and then skittled when attempting to make her run early on in the stretch.

Meurice is from Espadon, a daughter of Danehill and has won three and placed in the other four of his seven starts. Waterhouse gained a 50% equity in the winner of almost $1 million late last year.

She prepared the colt for a first-up win in the Todman Stakes (Aus-II) at Rosehill before his group I assignments. From the Rodney Douglas barn in Melbourne, Meurice won and placed twice in his first three starts for owner Jonathon Munz in the spring.

Waterhouse then syndicated the half interest with three other Melbournians, unknown to Munz before Waterhouse brought them together.

“I loved this horse the first time I saw him in Melbourne and was determined to buy him,” Waterhouse said. “He is beautifully balanced and has a lovely temperament; just a perfect horse.

“He just has to be the champion 2-year old,” Waterhouse added.

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