With his incomparable half sister Black Caviar recently retired, All Too Hard ascended to the status of Australia's top horse in training April 27 after a dazzling late-running performance in the AUS$400,000 All Aged Stakes (Aus-I) at Royal Randwick.
The marquee event among four top-level races carded was the AUS$500,000 Sydney Cup (Aus-I) won by Mourayan. But All Too Hard stole the show with an explosive burst from midpack to overhaul front-runner Rain Affair, who looked poised for an upset in midstretch.
The 5-2 favorite, All Too Hard caught Rain Affair at the 50-meter mark to score by a half-length under Dwayne Dunn. He likely punched his ticket to England for the Royal Ascot meet, where Black Caviar won the Diamond Jubilee (Eng-I) last year.
All Too Hard covered 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs) in 1: 22.89 on turf rated as good. Fiorente, runner-up in the 2012 Melbourne Cup (Aus-I), finished third while 2011-2012 champion middle-distance horse and 3-1 second choice More Joyous finished next to last in the eight-horse field.
All Too Hard, a 3-year-old colt by Casino Prince out of Helsinge, by Desert Sun, entered with consecutive victories in Melbourne in the Sportingbet C. F. Orr Stakes (Aus-I) Feb. 9 and Cathay Pacific Futurity Stakes (Aus-I) Feb. 23, both at Caulfield. He won his fourth race at the group I level in the All Aged Stakes and improved his overall record to seven wins, a second, and a third from 12 career starts.
"To do what he's done today in pulling out all stops takes a gutsy horse," said Michael Hawkes, who co-trains All Too Hard with his father, John, and brother, Wayne."He's just an absolute athlete, he's a racehorse, and he's got a big heart.
"He's just an athlete. He's got the family, the pedigree, and he kicked some ass."
All Too Hard will join the stallion roster at Vinery Stud for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season later this year. Vinery, managed by Peter Orton, bought the colt from Norman Tinkler earlier this year.
Making only his second Australian start, former French classic winner Reliable Man upstaged Sydney Triple Crown winner It's a Dundeel in the AUS$400,000 Santos Coffee Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Aus-I), but crossed the finish line with a tendon injury to his right foreleg.
Trained by Chris Waller, Reliable Man won by 2 1/2 lengths at 12-1 odds from runner-up It's a Dundeel, the 6-5 favorite, who possibly was feeling the effects of a long campaign. Winner of the 2011 Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-I) or French Derby, 5-year-old Reliable Man left the track in an ambulance, the extent of injury yet to be determined.
"This is a bittersweet moment," Waller told the Sunday Telegraph after his sixth group I race of the season. "He's won like a very good horse, he has excellent form in Europe, and on that effort he is world class."
Under Hugh Bowman, Reliable Man dispatched front-runner Glass Harmonium in the straight and drew clear as It's a Dundeel pursued but could not catch the winner. Reliable Man was timed in 2:01.80 for 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles).
The son of Dalakhani out of On Fair Stage, by Sadler's Wells, was previously trained in France by Alain de Royer-Dupre. Waller bought the horse for a syndicate and after 24 weeks off, his runner finished sixth in the George Ryder Stakes (Aus-I) April 6 at Rosehill in his Australian debut.
Group I winner Glass Harmonium finished last in the eight-horse field, and he too pulled up with an injury.
Two races later, Bowman guided home Mourayan, who tallied his first win at the top level and halted a five-race winless skid in the 3,200-meter (about two-mile) Sydney Cup.
The 7-year-old Irish-bred by Alhaarth out of Mouramara, by Kahyasi, carried co-high weight of 58 kilograms (about 128 pounds) and outstayed nine opponents to win by three-quarters of a length at 12-1 odds from Norsqui with Aliyana Tilde a short head back in third.
Kellini, the 5-2 favorite, never threatened in a sixth-place finish.
Trained by Robert Hickmott for a partnership that includes Lloyd Williams, whose Green Moon won last year's Melbourne Cup, Mourayan finished the trip in 3:24.29.
The card also included the AUS$400,000 Champagne Stakes (Aus-I) for 2-year-olds and was won by Sheikh Mohammed's Guelph.
The game filly looked a no-hoper on the home turn but uncoiled a scintillating turn of foot and got up to win in the final stride by a nose from longtime leader Fuerza.
The daughter of Darley's current Australian leading sire Exceed And Excel was near the back of the field entering the straight as Fuerza opened a four-length lead. On Kerrin McEvoy's cue, Guelph burned into contention with a sustained rally to prevail as the 5-2 favorite.
Guelph, who is out of the Elusive Quality mare Camarilla, entered off a win in the Sires' Produce Stakes (Aus-I) April 13 at Randwick for trainer Peter Snowden. She has four wins and a second from seven career starts.