Desert War Caps Waterhouse's Final Day Domination

Ageless warrior Desert War led the charge for the Gai Waterhouse barn as the trainer won three group I events on the final day of the four-day Randwick Fall Carnival.

Youth bowed to seniority as Desert War led from wire-to-wire to easily defeat Fusaichi Pegasus  ’ 3-year-old southern star, Haradasun, in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Aus-I) on April 14.

On either side of the AUS$600,000 weight-for-age feature, the Waterhouse stable snared the Champagne Stakes with Meurice and the All-Aged Stakes (both Aus-I) with Bentley Biscuit.

Her treble takes Waterhouse’s career group I total to 82. Her late father, Tommy Smith, trained 282.

Waterhouse and the David Hayes barn have each harvested 10 group I wins this season. Her personal best is 11 two years ago. With 13 group I races left in the Australian racing season, they are chasing the modern record of 12 set by John Hawkes in 2002-03.

Bred and raced by Eduardo Cojuangco’s Gooree Stud, Desert War’s sixth group I, at odds of 2-1, boosted his career earnings to $2,933,610.

The 6-year-old gelded son of Makybe Diva’s sire, Desert King, has won a dozen races with nine minor placings from his 38 races.

He mopes when sent for a spell, according to Waterhouse, and will chase more booty in Brisbane next month, his main target the Doomben Cup (Aus-I).

Ridden for the first time by Damien Oliver in the 156th QE Stakes, the warhorse appeared under threat when Haradasun moved to within a length under Nash Rawiller near the 200 meters. The 11-8 elect had come from 10 lengths back at the 600 meters to launch his challenge.

But in uncharted territory at his first attempt beyond the mile of his AUS$2.25 million Doncaster Handicap (Aus-I) victory five days earlier, the Melbourne colt started to race erratically under pressure

Haradasun fought on bravely although drifting out, a trait he’d shown at his previous two Sydney group I wins.

The hulking Desert War showed no mercy and the local hero’s margin at the wire was 2 1/4 lengths.

Oliver later playfully described Desert War as "lazy."

Rawiller, Haradasun’s partner, would ride Waterhouse’s other two group I winners on the day.

Spirit of Tara (70-1) headed the well-vanquished remaining eight a farther 4 1/4 lengths adrift. At 2:04.20 the time for the 2,000 meters was three seconds outside the race record on a drying track, but one still playing on the slow side.

Desert War is something of a cult hero and his win sparked wild scenes in the stands, his ovation on returning to the mounting yard fitting for such a grand warrior.

But there was more drama to be played out.

Haradasun suffered a partial collapse while being washed down, reportedly from heat stress.

Rawiller told officials  that Haradasun felt as if he was sore after the race.

Chief steward Ray Murrihy said the horse appeared to be a little ‘wobbly’ after the race.

Trainer Tony Vasil did not confirm the hosing down incident to Murrihy, but provided an insight into the colt’s leg and feet problems.

“He's like training a Ferrari on K-mart wheels”.

Most Popular Stories