Desert War Rules Again in Front-Running Rawson Win

Desert War has many popular wins on his resume, but his Rawson Stakes (Aus-I) at Rosehill on March 17 is right up there with the other 10 victories despite a poor turnout.

Clashes and near misses of similar types of grade I racing at major fall meetings in Melbourne and Sydney have detracted from many recent features.

But the old warhorse could only beat those to turn up on the day and the other half dozen could consider themselves well vanquished at the end of the regulation 2,000 meters, which he covered in 2:01.93. The time was slowed because of rain, the surface deteriorating.

Confectioner (15-1) and Railings (8-1) filled the minors, a length between them. His game 1 1/2 lengths second was the second grade I runner-up finish for Confectioner, a grandson of Sunday Silence through  Bubble Gum Fellow. He just failed to overpower Belle Bizaare in the Railway Stakes in Perth last summer.

Desert War has won $2.5 million for his owner-breeder, Eduardo Cojuangco. The Rawson was his eighth graded success and fifth at grade I.

His wins in the 2004 and 2005 Epsom Handicap (Aus-I) at a mile forced him to weight-for-age racing, where his tactical speed is a huge plus. He also attempted an Epsom threepeat but was collared at the wire by the currently benched Racing To Win.

The Rawson success is his second at 2,000 meters. Considered more of a miler, the gelded 6-year-old recorded a wire-to-wire victory in the Mackinnon Stakes (Aus-I) at Flemington last spring.

He had run third to the also sidelined Eremein, and Our Smoking Joe, in the 2006 Rawson. Trainer Gai Waterhouse has won the race four times. She also won the day’s other grade I feature with Tuesday Joy.

Desert War’s Mackinnon partner, Chris Munce, is in a Hong Kong prison awaiting his appeal against a 2 1/2-year sentence for accepting money for tips.

Hugh Bowman took over for the horses’s previous start, but they succumbed to longshot He’s No Pie Eater when defending the Chipping Norton (Aus-I) at 1,600 meters.

He again controlled the tempo from the front in the Rawson and, from the time Bowman gave the 7-10 favorite more rein nearing the final bend, Confectioner and the others struggled. Confectioner drew within a length 350 meters from the wire, but Desert War always had his measure.

The 104th Rawson winner is easily the best Australian-bred offspring by Desert King from five southern seasons at Coolmore-South.

Danehill’s Irish-bred son made an indelible mark though his triple Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) winner Makybe Diva, but she was conceived in Ireland and foaled in England.

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