Lotteria gave the Gai Waterhouse barn a grand success in the absence of stablemate Wager, the Flying Spur (by Danehill) filly withdrawn because of the wet ground. The same applied in the $560,000 Epsom Handicap (Aust-I) with Grand Armee, the Hennessy son who won the George Main (Aust-I) on opening day, Sept 25.The $3.3 million winning son of Hennessy was a pronounced Epsom favorite, but with his top weight, Waterhouse and owner Alan Bell pulled the plug 30 hours out from the race and into the second day of a non-stop downpour. Backed into an 11-2 second favorite's role, Desert War stepped up for the stable to provide Waterhouse with her third Epsom success and her third win in five group I races at the Sydney Spring carnival. Scott Seamer was the winning rider.Desert War is from the second of five crops left by the Coolmore-controlled Desert King, an Irish foaled son of Danehill and winner of his homeland Derby and 2,000 Guineas (both Ire-I). A 4-year-old gelding, Desert War is raced by his breeder, Eduardo Cojuangco, under his Gooree Stud banner.Although 3 1/2 lengths away in second, Our Egyptian Reine gave her all for the backers. The distaffer gave recorded her sixth Australian group I second. A group I winner in her native New Zealand, her $1.25 million earnings places her second only to Sunline of the Desert Sun offspring. Thunder Gulch colt Tsuimai was a mere nose away in third, the 1,600 meters run in 1:37.23.County Tyrone (11-2) completed the group I set for Danehill sons in wearing down Kris S mare Itemise to win the 142nd Metropolitan by a nose. Along with W.S. Cox Plate (Aust-I) contender Elegant Fashion, County Tyrone is the best sired by Emirates Park stalwart Danewin, a first crop member of Danehill and winner of five group I races around his close Australian Derby second.The Emirates-bred County Tyrone was the final group I winner for the late Max Lees in winning the 2002 Queensland Derby. Before providing the first to Max's son, Chris, he was runner up in the 2003 Sydney and Brisbane Cups (both Aust-I and 3,200 meters).
The only miss for the Danehill tribe came in the first group I of the day, the Spring Champion Stakes, this 3-year-old, 2,000 meters feature had fallen to his sons five times in the past 10 years. Al Maher was a 7-4 elect to make it six but could only manage fourth of nine as Savabeel provided Danehill's long-term rival Zabeel with a second success.The 7-1 chance stayed on strongly under Chris Munce to hold on by a half length from Outback Prince, a Green Desert grandson through Desert Prince. Cedar Manor (by Oregon), a stablemate of the winner, closed late for a luckless third another neck away.
Savabeel was bred jointly by Glenlogan Park and trainer Graeme Rogerson, also a part-owner, but at the time of his birth was owned by Gerry Harvey, breeder and part-owner of Flight victress Lotteria. Harvey acquired Savannah Success, a 1995 daughter of Success Express, four months before she foaled Savabeel. The New Zealand Oaks (NZ-I) winner and Lotteria's dam are among 277 owned by the retail czar. Rogerson signed for Savabeel at the 2003 Magic Millions premier, at $400,000.Danehill did gain a southern success Oct 2 as Elvstroem convincingly landed the Turnbull Stakes (Aust-II), the $500,000 Flemington weight-for-age boasting the strongest field assembled anywhere in Australasia this season. The reigning Victoria Derby (Aust-II) winner scored by 1 1/4 lengths from Mummify and Confectioner. Hug's Dancer and She's Archie staged splendid Melbourne Cup trials in fourth and fifth, the 2,000 meters in 2:00.46.Starcraft failed to complete his mission of three major New Zealand races on the way to the Cox Plate when beaten rather easily by two lengths by Central Districts galloper Balmuse in the $1 million (NZ funds) Kelt Capital Stakes (NZ-I, 2,000 meters) at Hastings Oct 2. A 5-year-old gelded son of Lord Ballina, the 20-1 winner was bred by Jim Wallace at his Ardsley Stud at Masterton. As a yearling, he was purchased for $30,000 by Kevin Myers, the Wanganui conditioner who races him with Paul Connor and Dan O'Leary. Starcraft had 'a bad hair day' according to part-owner Paul Makin and has eased a point to be a joint 3-1 favorite for the Oct. 23 Cox Plate (Aust-I) with Private Steer. The Soviet Star colt will now prep for the Cox in the Caulfield Stakes (Aust-I) Oct 9.