Sweet Stream Gets Rider for Melbourne Cup

(from Team Valor release)
Sweet Stream, the French-based mare who booked passage to the Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) with a convincing victory last week in the Park Hill Stakes (Eng-II) in England, will be ridden Nov. 1 at Flemington by veteran jockey Greg Childs.

"We wanted an experienced local rider and Greg Childs comes highly recommended," said Barry Irwin, president of Team Valor, which owns the 5-year-old Italian-bred mare in partnership with Hollywood motion picture producer Gary Barber of California

The 43-year-old rider has been on a tear of late, winning races in snatches this week, including the Champagne Stakes aboard the fleet 3-year-old filly Virage de Fortune. Childs is no stranger to riding top mares, as he partnered Sunline, one of the all-time great females in Australian racing history.

Trainer John Hammond does not plan to race Sweet Stream in advance of entering quarantine on Oct. 2 in Chantilly, where the mare will train in the afternoon for two weeks with a stable mate prior to being flown to Australia.

"If I could find the right race in which to run, I would prefer it," said Hammond, "but aside from a go in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, there is none, so I suppose we will create a trial just in advance of sending her into quarantine."

A late developing star, Sweet Stream shocked Paris racegoers she slipped through along the rail the length of the Longchamp stretch to nab the Prix Vermeille (Gr-I) last autumn in France under Thierry Gillet. The French rider cannot make the 53.5 kilos assigned Sweet Stream for the Cup, which is the reason a different rider was sought.

Sweet Stream has won both of her starts in 2005, coming off an eight-month layoff to beat males at Longchamp for the Prix Gontaut-Biron (Fr-III) over 10 furlongs, a trip formerly considered too short for her. She was sent to Doncaster for the Park Hill over St. Leger distance of more than 14 furlongs to test a theory long held by Hammond that Sweet Stream needed a true test of stamina to show her best.

In the Park Hill Stakes, Sweet Stream was locked in until 2 furlongs out, when Gillet was able to extricate her from a box and drive her to a 1 1/2-length victory over The Aga Khan's favored Kastoria.

"We started thinking about the Melbourne Cup last winter because the two-mile distance could well be made to order for Sweet Stream," Hammond said. "She has never been as good as she is right now. We have several options with this mare, but the owners are keen to give the Melbourne Cup a go, so off to the Land of Oz it is."