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"World class benchmark for spring campaigns"

The release this week of the New Zealand Free Handicaps and the latest Timeform Global Rankings will give Australasian racing a class benchmark for racing over the spring.

The New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Association commissions New Zealand's chief handicapper, Dean Nowell, to frame the Free Handicaps for two-year-olds and three-year-olds, at the end of each season, and Nowell found that Alamosa (NZ) was 'the most outstanding racehorse of the (New Zealand) season.'

Nowell assigned the O'Reilly four-year-old entire 62kg, the highest ranking of the three-year-olds with AJC Derby winner Nom Du Jeu assigned 61kg, and NZ Derby winner C'Est La Guerre assigned 60.5kg, as the closest two to Alamosa.

Boundless, the winner of the NZ Oaks at Trentham, and second in the AJC Oaks at Randwick was allocated 58kg.
"His victory in the Thorndon Mile was simply brilliant," said Nowell of Alamosa.
"After being second top two-year-old last season he certainly carried on with some excellent runs and deserves his very high rating in this category. His win at Otaki at weight-for-age against the older horses was also a great effort," he added.
Since those wins Alamosa has had a change of ownership and he is now owned by the Wellfield Alamosa Syndicate, managed by Wellfield Stud's Bill Gleeson, and he was transferred to the Caulfield stable of Mick Price.
"He is a lovely horse," said Price two weeks ago.
"I watched his win against the older horses at Wellington in the Thornton Mile which is a bit like the Emirates (Stakes), it is a big field and it is a pressure race. He is a beautiful winded horse and he extended from the half-mile (800m) in that race and just kept improving for each furlong (200m).
"I felt myself just for the last furlong may or may not sort him out in the Thornton Mile and it was the best part of his race.
"The question has to be asked of him as to what sort of Australian weight-for-age horse he is. That will be the interesting question for him," he said.

Price ran Alamosa with another stable star, and Group I winner last season, Light Fantastic, in an exhibition gallop between races at Caulfield last Saturday. Neither Light Fantastic nor Alamosa was asked to do too much, going to the line under their own steam, with Light Fantastic just edging the Alamosa on the line.

Both may commence their spring campaigns in the $200,000, Group II, WFA JJ Liston Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 16th.
In which case they will clash with Weekend Hussler, who Timeform have ranked eighth equal in the world, with a rating of 130.

Curlin is top of the World Top 20 on 134, with last Saturday's Goodwood winner Duke Of Marmalade on 133, Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown on 132 with Papal Bull. Henrythenavigator has 131 with New Approach and Hong Kong star Sacred Kingdom.
Weekend Hussler shares 130 with Raven's Pass, Soldier Of Fortune, Tartan Bearer and Youmzain.

The respected form analyst, and Australia's Timeform rating complier, Gary Crispe believes that Weekend Hussler, trained by Ross McDonald at Caulfield alongside Alamosa and Light Fantastic, is the best Australian three-year-old in ten years.
Weekend Hussler has been entered for all the major spring races in the 2008 Victorian Spring Racing Carnival, the BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18th, weight-for-age Tatts Cox Plate (2040m) on October 25th and the Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 4th.

Crispe points out that Northerly in 2002 showed it is possible to win the Caulfield Cup before backing up a week later to win the Cox Plate and, in his opinion Weekend Hussler is every bit as good as Northerly.

With that world-class benchmark for the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival it will be a true measure of the other Group I performers, such as Alamosa and Light Fantastic, as they progress through their campaigns.

Our Two-Year-Olds were once again a very even lot,however
I found that IL QUELLO VELOCE was not only very consistent but did look very good in winning Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes,also I do believe that she was very unlucky in not finishing much closer in Karaka Millions race,she may even have won but would have finished much closer.
After her top male was FULLY FLEDGED winner of Ellerslie
Sires in good style.
Next in line equal are two very good gallopers in CAPTAIN FANTASTIC and VINCENT MANGANO the latter being
winner of Karaka Millions,producing a run that had to be seen to be believed,after them came SAN BERNARDINO who had a busy season and was always around the money.
Horses that took my eye for future racing were ALTERED IMAGE unbeaten in three starts to date,while KEEPER SPECIAL produced a good effort when winning Ryder Stakes last week.

Well what can I say, ALAMOSA was by far the most oustanding racehorse of the season,his victory in the Thorndon Mile was simply brilliant.
After being second top 2YO last season he certainly carried on with some excellent runs and deserves his very high rating in this category,his win at Otaki at WFA against the older horses was also a great effort.
Some drop back to next in line SPECIAL MISSION who did
very well during a busy season,her best win being of course
GROUP ONE NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Te Aroha and in a close finish beat some very handy gallopers.
After her came another filly in MARTINI RED who's best win was against the older horses at WFA at Ellerslie,this filly in time to come could be one of our better sprinters.
Then came THE POOKA winner of the 2000Guineas narrowly from ALAMOSA.
Perhaps the most promising galloper in this category was DIAMOND DECK who went amiss early in the season,she did look the goods in winning and lets all hope she comes back this season and shows her best form.

Now to the over 1600metre category,on top is NOM DU JEU
although beaten in our Derby went on to Australia and was a convincing winner of the AJC DERBY from RED RULER another of our fine gallopers.
NOM DU JEU did look good when winning this GROUP ONE event and we can all hope he carries on with same form this coming season.
Close up next only 1/2kg behind comes our DERBY winner in C'EST LA GUERRE,his victory at Ellerslie was a very easy one at that and had not missed some work may well have won in Australia as well,now that he has been sold to Australian interests his performnces will be watched closely.
MISSION CRITICAL came next,his best win was against the older horses and a wonderful tactical ride by Michael Coleman beating SIR SLICK at WFA>.
BOUNDLESS winner of our NZ OAKS at Trentham and runner-up in Sydney in their Oaks was top rated filly in this grade and deserved it.
SIX O'CLOCK NEWS could be one to follow next year,he looked okay in his races but must have good ground tp perform to his best.



Alamosa in the mix for New Zealand Mercedes Horse Of The Year

Later in the day the Mick Price trained pair, Light Fantastic and Alamosa, worked together in a much more casual display.

Light Fantastic, winner of the Cadbury Australian Guineas, gave Alamosa, a three time group one winner in New Zealand, four lengths head start turning into the straight before ambling up to be outside Alamosa for the run to the post.
Neither galloper was asked to do too much, hitting the line under their own steam, with Light Fantastic just edging the ex-kiwi on the line.

Light Fantastic is also being prepared for a first-up crack at the JJ Liston Stakes in a fortnights time, creating a much anticipated clash between two of Australia's most talented gallopers.

The former top New Zealand galloper Alamosa (NZ) (O'Reilly) is being set for the Group I WFA Tatt's Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley by new trainer, Caulfield's Mick Price.

The rising four-year-old entire, now owned by the Wellfield Alamosa Syndicate, managed by Wellfield Stud's Bill Gleeson, arrived at Price's stable for a spring preparation with the view to adding Australian black type to his already impressive New Zealand form.

Alamosa will eventually retire to stud in New Zealand as the best credentialed son of O'Reilly to-date, after his two Group I wins in the handicap Thornton Mile (1600m) at Trentham, carrying 52kg, and WFA Otaki-Maori (1600m) at Otaki, in the summer.

"I worked him on the steeple grass course on Saturday and I was really happy with him," said Price on Melbourne radio Sport 927 on Monday.

"He is a lovely horse.

"I watched his win against the older horses at Wellington in the Thornton Mile which is a bit like the Emirates (Stakes), it is a big field and it is a pressure race. He is a beautiful winded horse and he extended from the half-mile (800m) in that race and just kept improving for each furlong (200m).

"I felt myself just for the last furlong may or may not sort him out in the Thornton Mile and it was the best part of his race.

"We worked him here with Light Fantastic on Saturday morning and Dale Smith, who is not a bad judge, rode Alamosa and Craig rode Light Fantastic, and the exercise was just to finish head to head and he came back and he is just one of those horses where you just do not hear him breath.

"He is an O'Reilly horse who is not going to take a lot of work. He is a very elegant, athletic type of horse and he weighs in at just under 500kg, so he is not overly big.

"The question has to be asked of him as to what sort of Australian weight-for-age horse he is. That will be the interesting question for him.

Price said that he did not think that he needed to keep Alamosa apart from his other rising four star Light Fantastic with different owners for each horse.

"Each horse needs to be placed on its individual merits, so I have programmes set up for them as individual. There are only so many races you can place them in anyway, and Alamosa is being set for the Cox Plate and the handicap route is probably not ideal so he going to go the weight-for-age route at the moment anyway," said Price.

Both Alamosa and Light Fantastic (Danehill Dancer) will have an exhibition gallop on August 2nd.

Alamosa, out of the Centaine mare Lodore Mystic, has raced 17 times to-date, for nine wins and five places, with stakes of 4638,827.

The entire is likely to run in next month's Irish St Leger then head to Melbourne.

Williams said Efficient would have two spring lead-up runs before defending his Melbourne Cup crown compared with four lead-up runs, including the Cox Plate, last year.

"He'll return in the Makybe Diva (1600m, September 6) then go to the Turnbull Stakes (2000m, October 4). That's it," Williams said.

"I'm not a believer in this business of having to give horses seven (lead-up) runs before the (Melbourne) Cup. That's an out-dated Australian-ism.

"Aidan O'Brien is the best trainer in the world. He's trained 17 Group 1 winners already this year, and he doesn't give his horses seven (lead-up) runs."

Williams said Efficient was progressing well.

"He's in good order," he said. "He spent some time at Flemington and now he's back at our Macedon property.

"He'll spend quite a bit of time there now we've got it up and running."

Williams' other interesting Cup entrant is recent purchase C'est La Guerre, winner of last season's New Zealand Derby.

"He's a bit behind Efficient," he said. "He won't kick-off until mid-September."

- Thoroughbred News


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