Two weeks ago Timeform rated Aussie sensation Weekend Hussler the best 3-year-old in the world. Some people raised their eyebrows at the lofty moniker, but you couldn’t ignore his astonishing five group I wins in a season.
Well, you can make that six now as Weekend Hussler (Hussonet--Weekend Beauty) took his record to nine wins from 11 starts – his past six at group I level. No horse in Australian history, other than the recognized best horse to have raced in Australia in the past 50 years – Kingston Town – had done that. Not Makybe Diva, or Lonhro, or Octagonal, or Sunline.
"He’s a freak and it was no disgrace running second to him today," quipped trainer John O’Shea, whose star galloper, multiple group I winner Racing To Win, himself one of the best milers ever seen in Australia, chased home Weekend Hussler in the $400,000 George Ryder Stakes over seven and a half furlongs in the mud at Rosehill Gardens April 19.
Third home was Patinack Farm’s stallion hope Casino Prince (by Flying Spur), who was a group I winner at his previous start.
It was Weekend Hussler’s hardest contest to date in terms of the quality of opposition, and yet it was won with ridiculous ease at weight for age level. He simply toyed with them like a big burly tabby cat would with a mouse. He sat third in a field of eight from barrier rise – a field that boasted six previous group I winners and a pair of group II winners – yet ambled up to old Desert War who led around the home turn, then exploded away.
His Australian record now reads like the champion he is. He has earned Aus$2,380,000 (approximately U.S.$2.1million) in purses and is now headed for the spelling paddock. His trainer, Ross McDonald, shocked the punters when interviewed post-race.
Weekend Hussler's collection of group I wins as a 3-year-old came in the Caulfield Guineas and Ascot Vale Stakes last spring and the Oakleigh Plate, Newmarket Handicap, Randwick Guineas and Saturday's George Ryder this fall. The wonder horse of his era and pretty much any Australian era, Kingston Town, also achieved the feat during his 3-year-old season in 1979-80 – but in different races.
McDonald, who has been saying it for over a year now, reiterated his belief in Weekend Hussler. "He's the best that I've ever trained," McDonald said. "He's got a great cruising speed, he can quicken off a fast or slow speed, he can do it on a fast or heavy track, and he's got a great motor. I think he might be (rated up there with Kingston Town) now."
Weekend Hussler (who started favorite despite the quality of the all age field) jumped brilliantly this time at his second start the Sydney way of going for Rawiller, who then eased him back behind the speed set by Stormhill and Desert War.
The imposing young star then rounded them up with consummate ease on straightening and while Racing To Win (who has earned $3.1million purse money) tracked him into the race and looked set to lay down a serious challenge, just couldn't pull any ground off Weekend Hussler, who held him at bay by 1 1/2 lengths.
Racing To Win's owner, former bookmaker and form student Trevor Stuckey, was absolutely taken by the winner and said he deserved his recent Timeform rating. "Weekend Hussler might just be the best 3-year-old in the world," Stuckey said.
Desert way ended in fourth spot while a long way back was Scenic Shot, Mentality, Stormhill and former U.S. group I winner Honor In War.When asked about a start in next Saturday's $1.5million Doncaster Handicap at Randwick over a mile, in which Weekend Hussler has been allotted 57.5kg (127 pounds), McDonald quickly dismissed the idea. "No, he's not going to Randwick. He’s done enough this time up. He's going home to Melbourne and we'll bring him back for the spring races in Melbourne," he said.