The mares took center stage at Rosehill Gardens April 19 with the running of the group I Coolmore Classic over seven and a half furlongs - just for females.
And much to the ire of Australian owners, trainers, and punters, this year’s Aus$600,000 event was won by a Kiwi mare – Eskimo Queen (Shinko King--Cold Type), who was ridden by Mark Zahra and trained by Michael Moroney.
She had been heavily tried in pre-race betting during the week but was 20-1 by post time as the major money was for super mare Hot Danish (Nothin’ Leica Dane--Hot ‘n’ Breezy), who had won seven of her only eight starts.
Both 4-year-old mares headed the weights and both, as it turned out, dominated the race. Hot Danish jumped straight to the lead from barrier rise then her rider Tim Clark took hold of her and slowed the pace. He led until deep into the stretch until Eskimo Queen stretched out with giant strides over the final half furlong to nab the ultra consistent favorite.
Deloraine (More Than Ready--Mysterious Sound) was game as well battling gamely along the rails to just land third in front of the luckless Gallant Tess.
But speaking of luckless, nobody could begrudge the connections of Eskimo Queen this group I win. About this time last year, as a raging hot favorite to win against the boys in the group I Queensland Derby, Eskimo Queen fell. It robbed the race of a great story and her connections of major black type – and $300,000 in purse money.
Eskimo Queen, who is as tough as old hard boots, recovered. She came back to racing five months later and made her way, as one of the favorites into the $3 million Caulfield Cup. She went into the starting gates and then inexplicably laid down forcing her withdrawal from the race.
Then when resuming from a spell for this campaign, she ran into a huge check with a furlong to go winding up hard held in fifth spot.
But she wasn’t to be denied her piece of history this time around.
"She is a brilliant horse on her day and she deserves this win. Her career has been heartbreaking at times but she is on target now for the Doncaster Handicap next week and with the forecast of continued rain, I think the mile at Randwick will really suit her," claimed her trainer Moroney.
The win took her purse earnings to $848,000 and was her fourth win from 15 starts.
Hot Danish was superb in defeat and she will strip fitter and better for the Doncaster on her home track next Saturday. That race is worth $1.5 million and will be sponsored by Emirates.
Hot Danish has earned $590,000 in stakes money and she looks a gem of a chance now that Weekend Hussler and Racing To Win will not be running in the Donny.
Deloraine will be retired after her next start in a Listed event in two weeks yet will go to stud with a group 1 placing next to her name. But Zahra, who doesn’t get many 5-star opportunities in group 1 races, rode a fit Eskimo Queen superbly.
"I ride a fair bit for Mike (Moroney), he’s a fantastic bloke to work for and I was thrilled to win a Group One for him today. She was always traveling comfortably and when the inside opened up nicely and I pushed her through she really accelerated in the final 100 metres. Mike had prepared her well and she got home," said Zahra. "It was a great effort and she’ll be very hard to beat next week," jockey Tim Clark added on Hot Danish’s gutsy effort. "It was a great run, I told Anthony (Cummings) that she has never worked better than she did on Thursday and she ran right up to it," Larry Cassidy on Deloraine’s career-best effort.
The race was run in 1.33.51, over two seconds slower than Weekend Hussler in the Ryder.