It took a few dramatically unsuccessful attempts for connections to realize that Australia’s former champion 3-year-old filly, Gold Edition, would be a senior superstar too, if simply allowed to run.
She did that in the Manikato Stakes (Aus-1) at Moonee Valley on Sept. 15 over 6 furlongs, leading throughout in super quick time. Her 1.10.43 was faster than Sunline ran to win the race several years ago.
Gold Edition held the fast-finishing and lightly raced Vormista (Testa Rossa-Truly) by three-quarters of a length, with Dr. Nipandtuck (Dr. Fong-Clipwings) rattling home from well back to gain third. The favorite and previously unbeaten Here de Angels had his chance but plodded home to finish sixth. He had won six of six before this, including a stunning win over Gold Edition in his last start.
But this time her rider let the iron mare have her head, and she scooted from the gates and led throughout. “Yeah, it does look like that is the best way for her to run,” said jockey Stathi Katsidis, who had first group-1 ride in Victoria on Gold Edition. It was a wonderful return to racing for the Queensland-based jockey, who had spent the past month in Singapore helping his brother Michael prepare for a world title bout in boxing. The Katsidis family is a very gifted sporting one, and Stathi was at his best on Gold Edition.
“She’s a free-running horse and that’s clearly the way she races best,” Katsidis said. Many punters would agree; they have not been happy watching her being dragged back in recent starts to find cover. Gold Edition finishes off her races over the final two furlongs at the same speed whether she is two lengths clear of the field or five lengths off the lead. So the decision was made to push her forward and see if she could run them off their legs.
And she did.
Now a 4-year-old, Gold Edition (Lion Hunter--Glimmers) seemed to hang out on the turn but Katsidis, despite his Moonee Valley inexperience, said he deliberately plotted a path away from the inside to find better ground.
“I came three (horses) off because the track has a habit of cutting up a bit on the inside late in the day,” he said. “For a while there, I was a little worried and became to think she might be in a bit of trouble when there were a few horses getting up on the inside. But in the end, she’s just done what she had to do. She is ultra tough.”
The win was Gold Edition’s 16th in 33 starts and her second at group 1 level. It took her purse earnings to AUS$2,504,000.
Her trainer, Ron Maund, missed the race because he is still in Queensland under the equine influenza quarantine. Under strict biosecurity laws, Maund is not permitted to be with horses in another state until the lockdown has been lifted. He watched the race from his lounge room while his foreman, Neil Saunders, filled in for him.
“She will have a little break now and then come back on Caulfield Cup day (in mid-October), then go straight into the Flemington carnival for the two big sprints,” Saunders said.
The other feature event at Moonee Valley was the AUS$300,000 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (Aus-II) over a mile. If ever there was a dress rehearsal for the Cox Plate (Aus-I) in three weeks, this was it.
El Segundo and Haradasun, two of the three best in the country, staged a bone-tingling two-horse war down the Moonee Valley straight – the same track where they will lock horns again when the 10-furlongs AUS$3.5-million Cox Plate is run.
In the end, half an inch separated the pair, with El Segundo (purse earnings now of AUS$1,930,000) just besting Haradasun (AUS$2,104,300) on the line. The only mare in the field, Cinque Cento, was a gallant third, two lengths away.
Both El Segundo and Haradasun are multiple group-I winners and will join the premier horse in the land, Miss Finland, in what is shaping up as a classic Cox plate this year.