Two weeks after his explosive arrival on the Group One stage, Militarize (NZ) returned to Randwick on Saturday and went back-to-back – this time with a very different kind of performance in the Gr.1 Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (1600m).
Unplaced after striking severe interference in last month’s Gr.1 Golden Slipper (1200m), the New Zealand-bred colt stepped up to the big time with a powerhouse three-length win in the Gr.1 Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) on the opening day of Randwick’s The Championships on April 1.
That performance earned him $2 favouritism for Saturday’s Champagne Stakes, and he overcame an energy-sapping wide run to get the job done again.
Ridden by Joao Moreira, Militarize jumped fairly from gate six and attempted to take up a midfield position, but found himself posted three-wide without cover.
Moreira had no choice but to start pushing forward from a long way out, moving from seventh at the 1000m mark to be looming large out wide at the home turn.
In the meantime, Bases Loaded had thrown down the gauntlet to the field in a bold front-running performance, and he kicked strongly at the top of the straight.
Bases Loaded still led by more than two lengths with 150m remaining, but then Militarize pinned his ears back and went into full throttle, finishing over the top of the leader and going clear to win by a length and three-quarters.
“I had big hopes, but I didn’t think he was going to win that impressively,” Moreira said. “He was exposed out wide, had to face the breeze, covering ground, but he was the winner a long way from home. He attacked the line like he wanted to win.
“That proves that I was on such a good horse. He impressed me with the way he attacked the line. He deserved the win, because he’s such a trier, and no doubt about it – you can’t get any better.
“I think the sky is the limit for this horse. Based on how he has done it today, a mile is not a problem and I can see him even running 2000m or maybe even further. Just by the way how he travels underneath, respecting the rider. He will be such a versatile type of horse.”
Militarize has now had five starts for three wins, banking more than A$1.1 million for a powerful ownership group headed by Newgate Bloodstock and the China Horse Club, along with Sir Owen Glenn’s Go Bloodstock and a host of others. Their colours were also carried by Champagne Stakes runner-up Bases Loaded.
Militarize’s triumphs in the Sires’ and Champagne Stakes set up a clean sweep of Sydney’s two-year-old Triple Crown for expat New Zealand trainer Chris Waller, who also won the Golden Slipper with Shinzo.
“I haven’t put much thought into that (the Triple Crown), but as soon as you said it, it’s made me a little bit emotional,” Waller said. “We haven’t done anything different this year. We’ve just looked after this great crop of two-year-olds, and they’ve looked after us, haven’t they?
“Militarize was in a class of his own today, in my opinion. He was three-wide today and didn’t have any cover. Joao didn’t panic.
“The most exciting part is we haven’t pushed him yet, so we’re certainly looking forward to the spring.”
Militarize was bred by Jonathan Munz’s GSA Bloodstock Limited and is out of the British-bred mare Amerindia, who foaled Militarize at Haunui Farm in New Zealand after being sent across the Tasman to be served by Waikato Stud stallion Super Seth in the 2020 breeding season.
Militarize’s Sires-Champagne Stakes double is part of an extraordinary Group One gold rush by New Zealand-breds during the Sydney autumn carnival. They have now won nine Group One races across the last three Saturdays, with Militarize joined by Prowess, I Wish I Win, Mr Brightside, Major Beel, Pennyweka, Explosive Jack and Atishu. – NZ Racing Desk