Most Australian horses live in the shadow of Lonhro, but when you're his kid brother it can be a real trial. Not that Lonhro would be unaware of what its like, having always chased the reputation of their dad, Octagonal.
Five days after Lonhro's wonderful career-high in the Australian Cup (Aust-I), Niello lined up with 10 other 3 year-olds in the first leg of Australia's Triple Crown. The $400,000 (Australia funds) Canterbury Guineas (Aust-I) is a night event and the 9,300 at the Canterbury oval achieved a fine atmosphere.
Octagonal is the most recent Triple Crown winner -- rounded out by the Rosehill Guineas (Mar 27) and Australian Derby (Apr 10). Zabeel's best son became the fourth in 1996, and the first since it was relocated to the fall 25 years ago.
The Ingham-bred and -owned entry was at 13-4, bettors pinning their faith in Keep the Faith, the Sunday Silence colt an even-money proposition. Purchased in training by Darley Australia for $1.2 million, Keep the Faith is from the Dayjur mare Duelling Girl and won four of seven before coming north.
Timbourina and Tsuimai were the other hopes, assessed at 11-2 and 6-1 respectively. Timbourina is by Timber Country and defeated Special Harmony in the Wakeful (Aust-II) last spring, before finishing third to her in the Victoria Oaks (Aust-I). Tsuimai, a free-running son of Thunder Gulch, displayed potential with his third to Niello in the Spring Champion (Aust-I) last October.
Tsuimai led with Keep the Faith and Patrick Payne in close pursuit. Niello's racing style is more like his dad than Lonhro and Darren Beadman had him at the back not far into the 1,900 meters.
The favorite was soon under siege in the stretch. Then Timbourina and Niello swamped the leaders inside the final furlong. The real surprise was the way Niello rushed away to win by 2 3/4 lengths from the filly. Dancing Daggers (Daggers Drawn) separated Keep the Faith from third, a farther three-quarters of a length back, Tsuimai fifth.