If seeing is believing, North Pacific is the real deal.
The boom Team Hawkes-trained three-year-old colt produced a stunning effort to make an absolute mess of his rivals in the Group 3 $160,000 Up And Coming Stakes (1300m) at Royal Randwick.
North Pacific’s commanding effort on Saturday to romp home by more than five lengths was so impressive, it was no surprise he seemed to firm in betting for almost every big race coming up.
Immediately after North Pacific’s runaway win, TAB Fixed Odds price assessors slashed the colt’s odds for the Group 1 Golden Rose from $11 to $3.50 outright favouritism.
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For good measure, North Pacific firmed from $26 to $15 for The TAB Everest, $15 to $5 favourite for the Caulfield Guineas and $51 to $26 for the Cox Plate.
“North Pacific’s a very nice horse, he reminds me of (Doncaster Mile winner) Brutal,’’ co-trainer Michael Hawkes said.
“His demeanour is everything. He is just the coolest ‘cat’, nothing fazes him. He was like an old soldier there, even though he was a little bit green.
“He is still learning his craft. I believe he is a better horse on top of the ground, today he was just superior and his ability got him there.’’
North Pacific ($1.85 fav) gave jockey James McDonald few moments of concern, settling just off the speed before careering away from Bazooka ($26) with early leader Marsannay ($11) holding on for third.
McDonald was also searching for superlatives after North Pacific’s dynamic effort in the Heavy 10 conditions.
James McDonald was impressed by North Pacific’s dominant victory. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“The Hawkes stable have always had big raps on him, they do a wonderful job with these colts and he is no exception,’’ McDonald said.
“He oozes a lot of class, he swaggers around the arena and then canters down off the bridle, executes brilliantly and wins like that. It’s pretty nice.
“I know barrier one is a bit of a hindrance at times but I thought I’d just get him in a comfort zone and even if I was held up to the furlong, they still thought he was good enough to win.’’
Hawkes said he hopes North Pacific did enough to convince McDonald to stay with the colt through the spring carnival.
“The problem with James is that everyone wants a piece of him but I keep telling him I do have plenty of horses at home and I finally convinced him I had this horse,’’ Hawkes said.
“He is all smiles and all giggles after that win and is obviously pretty excited. He knows how we operate and he knows what is expected.
“I only gave him one instruction, ‘to keep the horse comfortable and get him into a rhythm’. The horse did the rest.’’
Hawkes suggested North Pacific may go straight to the Group 1 $1 million Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 28 without another run.
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE RANDWICK BIG BETS
VARDA CONTINUES HER OWN CRUSADE
Varda kept her winter winning streak going and upset boom sprinter Masked Crusader in a compelling clash at Randwick yesterday.
The showdown between Varda and Masked Crusader promised to be one of the races of the day and lived up to the pre-race hype with a thrilling finish to the Schweppes Handicap (1100m).
Godolphin mare Varda (pictured) scored her fourth win from as many starts this campaign when she held off the late-surging Masked Crusader, who lost no admirers in defeat.
Masked Crusader is a $17 chance with Ladbrokes for the $15 million The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 17, but jockey Tommy Berry warned punters to keep the faith with the Team Hawkes-trained sprinter.
“The winner sprinted too well for me at the top of the straight,’’ Berry said.
“My bloke took another 100m or so to get comfortable in the ground and fully in his stride. He was actually quite good in the (heavy) ground.
“I would say his last furlong (200m) sectional would be amazing.’’
Varda (left) holds off Masked Crusader in race 3 at Randwick. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Berry’s assessment was accurate with Masked Crusader the only horse to break 35sec for the final 600m of the race including a closing 200m in 11.83sec.
By comparison, Varda was able to sprint home in a final 200m sectional of 12.04sec.
Varda ($2.80), ridden by James McDonald, scored by a long neck from Masked Crusader ($1.90 favourite), with Royal Tudor ($31) another 4½ lengths away third.
Team Hawkes hasn’t decided where Masked Crusader will appear next while Godolphin trainer James Cummings is also in two minds about immediate plans for Varda.
“She has acquitted herself well this campaign, faultless in four runs,’’ Cummings said.
“We talked about it (spelling her) earlier last week.’’
AT THE TRACK WITH MATT JONES
BAD BEAT FOR PUNTERS
Some punters got stuck into drifting $1.90 pop Masked Crusader at Randwick before the comments of Tommy Berry and Sky’s Lizzie Jelfs pre-race. Berry said the boom horse would be vulnerable fresh on a Heavy 10 track and Jelfs said he was “backwards in the coat” and had “plenty of improvement in him” after the run.
Those comments would have made the punters who had Masked Crusader in treble and double bets, outlaying $10,000, very nervous. Varda put the race to bed at the 200m as the favourite ate into her lead late. After the defeat Masked Crusader went from $15 to $26 for The Everest which might be a little harsh. He did bleed from one nostril but was scoped and cleared. Berry said Masked Crusader wasn’t quite himself on the day.
“You could see him give it (barriers) a whack,” he said.
“He got his head right up the front of the gates and I asked the barrier attendant to bring him back because he couldn’t jump like that. Then he is standing on the back of the gates and not standing up at all. He’s actually throwing himself back a bit and the leaps in the air at the start.”
James McDonald was questioned about his ride on Fanciful Dream. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
STIPES GRILL J-MAC
Stewards asked James McDonald why he went back to the inside of Fanciful Dream on Athiri in the sixth at Randwick when most winners were coming down the far outside. “It felt like she (Fanciful Dream) kept wondering out so I thought I’d just go straight,” McDonald said. They also wondered why he didn’t take advantage of Athiri’s good start out of the gates. “We thought we’d be back last. She’s only got a short, sharp sprint and she sat outside the leader at Caulfield and fell in a hole that day,” he said.
END OF HIGHWAY FOR DUNN
Matt Dunn has had to give up rich The Kosciuszko and Country Championships after taking out boxes in Sydney not to mention the weekly Highway handicap which he’s “won 25 or 26” of, but it was a long-term goal. He’s got 160 horses on the books and has probably outgrown the Highways. “We’ve looked beyond that now and it’s time to use that platform to get to the next level,” he said. “It was a hard decision because they (Highways) were one of our selling points. I still think it was the right decision and the plan is not to go back to the way it was. “You can’t have everything. I went down to Sydney during the week to watch some of the horses gallop and there’s some talent there. We’ve still got more ammo.”
TRUTH ON TRACK
Defending Kosciuszko champ Handle The Truth is a juicy $8 with TAB fixed odds for the October 17 race and trainer Keith Dryden can’t see any reason why he won’t win it again. He’s about to start some harder pace work with the five-year-old and will give him two trials and a run before the $1.3 million race.
“He’s coming along really well and he’s right on target,” Dryden said.
“His work is a fraction keener than what it was last year but that’s because he’s still on the fresh side. He’s going as well as he was last time when he won it.”
Randwick racecourse manager Michael Wood told trainer Mark Newnham recently that Sydney race tracks have received the most rain since 1998. And track bias seems to be the No.1 topic every metropolitan meeting. Newnham said Rosehill has generally raced well and Randwick was fine a fortnight ago. He said Canterbury was the one track with real issues.
“Some of those Canterbury tracks where if you’re not leading you have to be on the fence running are the worst tracks because it gives very few horses an opportunity to win,” he said.
“Apart from last Wednesday (week) Canterbury has been fence on fire for 12 months and that all hasn’t been due to the weather so there’s an issue there.”
Newnham wasn’t keen on leaving the rail always in the true position and letting the jockeys work it out. He is a fan of moving some city meetings to Newcastle in the winter.
Horses to follow: Angel Of Truth (obviously loving the new stable), Masked Crusader (don’t give up), All Saints’ Eve (only gets better)
Ones to sack: Yardstick (every hope), Rulership (is he a top three-year-old?)
Ride of the day: Tommy Berry on Girls Are Ready (patient and rode the track)
Quote of the day: “Even if he was held up to the furlong (200m) I still thought he’d be good enough to win,” James McDonald said of North Pacific.
RANDWICK BIG BETS
All Saints Eve defied a big betting drift to take out the Everest Carnival On Sale Handicap (1400 metres).
The fav got the blows big time, opening $2.25 before hitting as much as $2.70 before a late rally saw it come into $2.60.
She held onto favouritism – only just – from the money horse Vitesse ($4.80-$2.80) which led and gave backers a tremendous sight but couldn’t hold out the final dive from All Saints Eve.
The pair were panels in front of the others in terms of money taken and commanded 85 per cent of the total investment.
BETS: All Saints Eve $10,000 @ $2.60, $4,000 @ $2.10
BETS: Vitesse $1,000 @ $3.60, $2,500 @ $3.20, $1,000 @ $3.20, $1,000 @ $3.10, $1,700 @ $2.90, $1,600 @ $2.80
Girls Are Ready was one of the more popular runners in today’s TAB Highway Class 3 Handicap (1200 metres).
The Joe Cleary-trained mare was the second most popular runner in terms of money taken behind Niccirose ($5), with the pair jumping equal favourites after the latter had been $3.40 in the morning.
Of the others, Northern Wildrose ($10-$7) had admirers once again and was third best tried, however, it held half of what the other two horses did.
BETS: Girls Are Ready $1,000 @ $5 TWICE
BETS: Northern Wildrose $2,000 x $1,000 e/w $7/$2.40
BETS: Niccirose $1,000 @ $5, $1,500 @ $4.60
Varda had good backing to beat Masked Crusader in the Schweppes Handicap (1100 metres).
The Godolphin rep only held slightly less money than the $1.90 favourite.
Varda ($3.20-$2.80) was the only one seriously tried to match Masked Crusader and the pair completely dominated the hold, commanding over three quarters of the money.
BETS: Varda $2,000 @ $3.20, $1,800 @ $2.80, $4,500 @ $2.70
BETS: Masked Crusader $4,000 @ $1.80, $2,100 @ $1.80
Favourite backers were sent packing with Torun being knocked off as a heavily tried commodity in the Ranvet Handicap (1100 metres).
Torun ($2.50-$2.10) was one of the best backed horses all day and after appearing home halfway up the straight, paddled over the final stages to allow the rank outsider in the small field (Twice As Special) to get the cash.
Twice As Special ($15-$21) was the least favoured runner in the race and held a fraction of what Torun did.
Torun was responsible for 57 per cent of the market. Quatum ($3.20-$3.70) was best tried outside the fav.
BETS: Torun $2,500 @ $2.60, $1,500 @ $2.60, $10,000 @ $2.15, $4,000 @ $2.15, $2,900 @ $2.15, $2,292 @ $2.15, $1,000 @ $2.15 MULTIPLE TIMES, $13,000 @ $2.10, $9,500 @ $2.10
BETS: Quatum $3,000 @ $3.40, $1,000 @ $3.40
Taikomochi defied the drift to prove superior in the Premier’s Cup Prelude (1800 metres).
Despite going $2.40-$3.50 on the day, Taikomochi kicked strongly when challenged by the money horse Attention Run ($3-$2.60) to get the verdict.
Such was the weight of money for Attention Run that it was backed into favouritism at the expense of Taikomochi.
BETS: Taikomochi $7,500 @ $3.50, $3,000 @ $3.50
BETS: Attention Run $2,500 @ $2.80, $3,000 @ $2.60, $2,000 @ $2.60, $1,000 @ $2.60 MULTIPLE TIMES, $4,000 @ $2.50, $2,110 @ $2.50
All the support for North Pacific was justified in the Up And Coming Stakes.
TAB customers were more than happy to take the even money in the morning for North Pacific, which was crunched into $1.85. Overall, North Pacific was responsible for nearly 60 per cent of the money in the feature.
Sitting behind the leader Yardstick ($4.60-$10), North Pacific came around the leader’s heels on straightening and exploded in the run home to score impressively.
BETS: North Pacific $5,000 @ $2 twice, $10,000 @ $1.85, $6,000 @ $1.85, $2,500 @ $1.85, $1,842 @ $2, $1,500 @ $1.85
Man Of Peace delivered a big blow to TAB when it led throughout in the Spring Preview Handicap (1400 metres).
Although a drifter from it’s opening price this morning, Man Of Peace went around as the most popular horse – and by a fair way too!
Going $3.40-$4.60 on the day, Louise Day rated Man Of Peace to perfection and held out the fast-finishing Order Again ($8.50-$6).
Pancho ($5) was very popular with TAB customers outside the winner while Danzdanzdance ($6.50) had plenty of admirers at the each-way quote.
BETS: Pancho $1,000 @ $5.50 TWICE, $4,000 @ $5, $1,000 @ $5
BETS: Man Of Peace $7,600 @ $4.60, $1,065 @ $4.20, $1,000 @ $4
BETS: Danzdanzdance $4,000 @ $6.50, $1,000 @ $6.50
Not Feint Hearted was the best move heading into the Heineken Handicap (1400 metres) and did the job for punters.
Going $4.20-$3.30 on the day, Not Feint Hearted was one of the better movers for the day at Randwick having had support since the morning.
BETS: Not Feint Hearted $3,000 @ $4.20, $1,000 @ $4.20, $2,100 @ $4, $1,000 @ $3.80, $1,800 @ $3.30
Originally published asNorth Pacific sails to top of Rose market
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