At Royal Randwick racecourse in Sydney Australia, March 29, save for just a quarter of an inch, that would have happened.
The scene: the group I Royal Randwick Guineas for 3-year-olds over a mile. It's a great race traditionally worth $500,000, and this year featured the best 3-year-old Australians have seen in 30 years--Weekend Hussler (Hussonet--Weekend Beauty). As usual, Brad Rawiller was on board for the ride.
He was up against 16 other classy 3-year-olds--all from Sydney and none of them had ever met him before. The Victorian champion was racing in Sydney for the very first time, and of course this meant he was running clockwise for the first time in his career of 10 starts. In Melbourne, they race counter-clockwise.
One of his rivals was outstanding Sydney 3-year-old Triple Honour (Honours List-Myrrh), who had won four of his only six starts to date. He was to be ridden by Nash Rawiller, brother of Brad.
When the big field left the barriers both horses began well and settled into good positions. Pretty much next to one another. The turf track was a little damp, and so when they turned for home, Weekend Hussler bulldozed his way into the clear from fifth spot and charged down the center of the track, presumably looking for better going. Triple Honour stayed closer to the inside saving ground. He was fourth upon cornering and by staying nearer the rails, he actually hit the front with just over a furlong to travel. Weekend Hussler, on the other hand, was changing leads and not really relishing the Sydney way of going. And, he was drifting out under hard riding to the left, but he gritted his teeth and made a dash for Triple Honour. You could sense the theatre right there.
Slowly but surely he reeled him in and the pair hit the line with just a quarter of an inch separating them.
"I looked across at Nash and smiled," Brad Rawiller said. "I said, 'I think I just got you,' and he fired straight back, 'Nope I think I hung on.' "
The result of the photo took three minutes, the race eventually being awarded to Weekend Hussler and connections of the runner-up immediately called for a re-examination of the print.
"I think on one level a dead-heat would have been the best result for us as brothers, but because I was on such a raging hot favorite and a champion, I really actually wanted to get the photo," explained Brad after the race, relieved the verdict had gone his way.
Triple Honour, the bravest of runners-ups, is the best son of his well-bred sire and English group II winner (French group I placed) Honours List, who stands at Widden Stud in New South Wales. Adding merit to his run was the fact he had never been over a mile before. Weekend Hussler has and that probably was the difference on the day.
Third home nearly two lengths back was stallion hope Arlington (Red Ransom--Savannah Success) whose little half-brother by Redoute's Choice fetched $1 million at the Magic Millions yearling sale three days ago. His run from an AJC Derby perspective was outstanding. "Super performance," agreed his rider Jim Cassidy. "Just wait until he runs over a trip. This is a good horse."
The race itself was a good race and full honors go to the first three home. Sadly for Brad Rawiller, he'll be watching races for the next few weeks as opposed to riding in them. The Victorian jockey, in his desperation to get his horse out and running at the top of the lane, was deemed to have caused some traffic problems by the stewards. “I haven’t barged out of my position, my horse just rolled being a Melbourne horse in Sydney for the first time,” Rawiller said in his defense. It fell on deaf ears.
Rawiller will start his suspension after Wednesday’s Newcastle Newmarket meeting and he will miss the group I Ranvet Stakes and group I Rosehill Guineas fixtures over the next three weeks. Luckily for him, Weekend Hussler, who now has five group I wins from 10 starts and Aus$2,117,000 in purse money, is not due to race again until late in April.
The winner is trained by Ross McDonald, who said to the media, "My horse is a champion--and luckily today he proved he is a brilliant chaser, too."
Chris Waller trains the second horse while Graeme Rogerson prepares Arlington.
The race was run in 1.36.56 on a soft track.
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