Gai Waterhouse and Nash Rawiller went to Flemington racecourse's biggest day of the year on Nov. 1, with expectations of having a nice day.
Even though neither had any involvement in the day’s highlight, the group I VRC Derby, they had a live one in former group 1 winner Theseo in the main support act -- the group I Crown Mackinnon Stakes over 10 furlongs and worth Aus$750,000,
“This is a very tough horse, he can take a lot of racing,” said Waterhouse of the horse who two starts back had won the group I Epsom Handicap at Randwick over a mile and then backed up last week to run a great fitth in the group 1 $3.5million Cox Plate.
So he needed to be tough.
This time, instead of going forward and challenging for the lead like he did in the Cox Plate, Rawiller dropped him in behind the speed.
“I was under strict instruction to save him for a sprint home this week,” Rawiller said after the race. "So I sat behind the leader Arlington and I knew once I straightened up that I had a horse who would finish the race off. Which he did. Gai is a genius as a trainer. All her horses seem to just keep finding. She is the best trainer I have ever ridden for that’s for sure."
Theseo (Danewin - Ozone Sand), a 5-year-old gelding, took his earnings to $1,529,380 as he won by a nose from the vastly improved Barbaricus (Lion Hunter-Light of Erin) and last year’s Mackinnon winner Sirmione (Encosta de Lago-World Guide).
Barbaricus, who at 100-1 led and ran a massive race for third in the recent group I, 12 furlongs Caulfield Cup, sat this time directly behind the leader Arlington, but when he hit the power button at the two furlong mark, he looked the winner when he dashed two lengths clear of the pack. Theseo was momentarily held up behind the tiring Arlington who wound up seventh.
But Rawiller had a horse full of run, and when he finally saw daylight, he charged. The pair shot clear of the remaining nine runners and inch by inch Theseo wore down Barbaricus, nailing him on the line by the narrowest of margins. The final time was 2.03.84.
It was his sixth win from 24 starts. He has also run six placings and will go for a well earned spell now, returning in the fall for the $1million Australian Cup at this same track.
“I am just so happy for the group of owners with this horse,” said Waterhouse. The owners formed a syndicate after Denise Martin the head of Star Thoroughbreds, purchased Theseo as a yearling from the Magic Millions sale four years ago, for them. This was the third time over the past four years that Waterhouse had won the Mackinnon Stakes.
Barbaricus, a tough 4-year-old, has now earned $573,000 in stakes from his three wins and eight placings, while Sirmione took his purse earnings to $1,665,300.
The shock of the race was the abject failure, again, of champion New Zealand mare Princess Coup, who traveled in second last spot throughout but failed to run on finishing with the cap catchers.
She has not come up at all well in Australia this time in.
Just prior to the Mackinnon Stakes it was announced that Sheikh Mohammed’s Caulfield Cup winner All The Good had been withdrawn from the big Melbourne Cup next Tuesday after injuring himself. Godolphin had pinned their great hopes on him being their first Melbourne Cup winner but he had heat in one of his front joints after trackwork yesterday and was lame again today.
All the Good was third favorite to win the Cup following his gutsy Caulfield Cup win, which was underlined by Barbaricus’ fantastic Mackinnon Stakes effort.