It’s boom or bust time for rising stars
THE Rosehill Gardens meeting on Saturday is looming as a defining moment for some of the sport's emerging talent.
It's boom or bust time, this is a race day when reputations could be made or broken.
This season's promising three-year-old crop include top colts Kementari, Pierata, Trapeze Artist, Siege Of Quebec, Ace High, Brave Song, D'Argento and Assimilate, and they are all headed for a high profile showdown in the Group 2 $400,000 Hobartville Stakes (1400m).
In the feature two-year-old race, the Group 2 $250,000 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m), five unbeaten youngsters, Neutrality, Zousain, Gongs, Sizzling Belle and Estijaab take on brilliant Magic Millions winner Sunlight.
The Hobartville winner will go a long way to securing a stud career, while the juveniles are racing for favouritism in the Golden Slipper.
It's a fascinating day's racing with the Hobartville arguably even more compelling and potentially revealing the Group 1 races, the Oakleigh Plate and Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield.
This season's three-year-old crop seems loaded with exciting young gallopers - but how good are they?
Form guru Gary Crispe from Racing And Sports said his exclusive Timeform ratings shows that although this season's three-year-old group lacks established stars, it has a talent pool deep with promising horses.
"The Golden Rose, Caulfield Guineas and Coolmore Stud Stakes - what could be called the 'big three' for the three-year-olds in the spring - were won by horses that started $41, $101 and $21. They were Trapeze Artist with a Timeform rating 122, Mighty Boss (117) and Merchant Navy (120) respectively,'' Crispe said.
"This screams 'wide open division' but it doesn't necessarily mean weak division, either.
"There are more three-year-olds with a Timeform rating above 105 than in any of the preceding five years.
"Of this group, there are only four rated 120 or above and one of those is Rekindling (123 rating), the Melbourne Cup winner who was bred in Ireland to northern hemisphere time.
"If you take Rekindling out of this group, then there are three rated 120 or above compared to the average of 7.5 over the preceding five years.
"Menari leads this season's crop with a 122 rating - the lowest crop leader at this point of the season in recent years. By way of comparison, Flying Artie was the top three-year-old with a Timeform rating of 127 at the same stage last season.
"In February 2016, Exosphere was also on 127, while in 2015 Rich Enuff and Shooting To Win shared top billing on 125. Cox Plate winner Shamus Award rated 124 to lead his generation in 2014.''
Crispe said while this season's top Timeform rated three-year-old is a few pounds shy of those mid-season leaders, he is expecting some "late bloomers" to emerge during the autumn carnival.
"One of the reasons to be upbeat about the potential in this crop over the next few months is that unlike previous seasons a good number of horses that could be considered promising are not specifically sprinters,'' he said.
Kementari, the early Hobartville Stakes favourite, created a huge impression with his runaway Eskimo Prince Stakes win earlier this month and looms as even better suited when he gets to 1600m, perhaps even further.
"I've got Kementari rating 119 following his first-up win in the Eskimo Prince Stakes, recording the highest Timeform rating in the race since Spark Of Life in 2004,'' Crispe said.
"He looks like taking the step beyond 120 (Saturday) against an established 122-rated horse in Trapeze Artist, who should provide a stern test of his talents.''
Crispe said Kementari is joined on the verge of a 120 rating by the likes of Spring Champion Stakes-Victoria Derby winner Ace High (rated 118) and Pierata (116).
"Assimilate and D'Argento are among a strong group that have shown enough talent in a handful of starts to think that they too could establish themselves higher up the three-year-old pecking order this autumn, along with Siege Of Quebec who is likely to prove a better horse when we get to 1600m and beyond,'' Crispe said.
The Hobartville aside, Crispe also expects current crop leader, Menari, who is likely to resume in The Galaxy next month, Merchant Navy (120), Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign (119), who runs in the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield on Saturday, and Flight Stakes heroine Alizee (118) to underline the strength of the three-year-old form during the Sydney autumn carnival.
Crispe said this weekend shapes as a "real turning point" for the juveniles with the pivotal running of the Silver Slipper at Rosehill and the Group 1 $1.5 million Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield.
"The lead-up races to the first Group 1 two-year-old contest of the year, the Blue Diamond, have lacked a stand out performer which is evident by the betting with no runners inside $6,'' he said.
"But again, this is not to say that they are a weak crop. From a Timeform perspective they have largely been around the averages to this point. We have 57 juveniles who have already rated 100 or higher by Timeform relative to 60 at this time last year.
"This group includes 24 (42%) two-year-olds who have achieved that mark in Sydney, the best of them the 115-rated Performer.
"The Silver Slipper provided last year's Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign and this year it's being used as a launching pad for several key Slipper contenders.
"Estijaab ran a very slick 103 on debut, Gongs is two from two and rated 101 after winning at Rosehill in December, but a month earlier Neutrality ran a very slick 106 on debut. He has been off the scene since so he might be flying under the radar.
"But the horse they have to beat in the Silver Slipper is Sunlight, who rated 113 winning the Magic Millions. She is already established and looking to keep that momentum going at Rosehill.''