Sydney Cup win for Jay Ford after nine years in the Group 1 wilderness

Day 2 of The Championships at Royal Randwick only got better for the Chris Waller stable when Shraaoh (by Sea The Stars) scored a brave win in the $2,000,000, Group 1, Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) following the emphatic victories of Verry Elleegant and Winx in the two previous Group 1 events run earlier on the same Royal Randwick card.

Contested by a full field of 20 runners, Shraaoh and Jay Ford took full of advantage of a low weight and a trouble-free passage in the two-mile feature to lead home fellow Irish import Venture Masque (by Monsun), with Glory Days (by Red Giant) coming in third.

Jay Ford steers Shraaoh to ictory, photo

Waller took his number of Group 1 victories into triple figures with the Queen Elizabeth Stakes victory of Winx just over half an hour beforehand, and then supplied Sydney hoop Jay Ford with a return to the Group 1 winning ranks after a near 10-year absence from success at the very top level.

The name of Jay Ford, of course, is synonymous with the unforgettable international sprinting career of Takeover Target and the popular Sydney rider found himself back in the limelight with an accomplished ride on the dour stayer. 

“It’s very satisfying for myself personally,” said Ford after the win. “I’ve ridden the rollercoaster a long time in Sydney.”

Ford continued: “I used to ride a very good horse [Takeover Target] and then he disappeared. Things have been up and down since then.

“I’ve had bits and pieces of opportunities. I’ve come close a few times since. I’m just thankful I can ride light and I do ride a lot for Chris.

“I had a couple of those things in my corner and we were fortunate enough that we got the job done.”

Ford salutes on Shraaoh, photo

Ford added: “It’s a reality check. I can’t complain. I used to ride a very good horse. I’ve had good success since. I’ve won numerous stakes races but another Group 1 has eluded me since Monaco Consul nine years ago.

“I’m just happy to prove to myself more than anything that I can still compete and get the job done. I had a wonderful horse underneath me to help me.”

In reference to the winner's performance and the manner in which this year’s Sydney Cup was run, Ford claimed: “He travelled well. Almost too well. It was a very muddling, on and off tempo. He always travelled strong throughout. I think the one-week back-up certainly worked for him. 

“From the half mile he was always travelling and I was just pinching runs along the fence. I just needed a little bit of room at the right time and we were able to push ourselves into the clear. He was very game to the line.”

Ford was also keen to give thanks for the opportunity he received from champion trainer Chris Waller.

“It is always good to repay him with a win like this. He supports me greatly. I’m always grateful of the opportunities he gives me. It’s nice to get a result on a big day for him.”

After his third Group 1 win of the day, Chris Waller declared: “It has been a memorable day. I think there is a good chance I won’t forget this day.”

Raced by a syndicate put together by Australian Bloodstock, Waller provided some additional background on Shraaoh after his valuable success.

“He was identified from England by the people behind the horse and I thank them very much. They’ve entrusted me to set him for it. 

“He won first-up [in November] over 2800m. That gave us the confidence to know he was capable of winning a race like this. 

“You hope they come up. The team in the Northern Hemisphere said he was twice the horse on a dry track and he proved that today.”

Shraaoh was winning for the second time in Australia when landing the Sydney Cup. The imported 6-year-old has now won four of his 19 career starts and $1,583,198 in prizemoney — only $263,698 of it however before today’s success.

Shraaoh scored by a long-neck. Runner-up Vengeur Masque finished one-and-a-half lengths ahead of the minor placegetter Glory Days.

Starting prices on the race where $12.00 Shraaoh, $31.00 Vengeur Masque and $17.00 Glory Days.

Shraaoh clocked 3m22.06s for the 3200m journey, the final 600m sectional being recorded as 35.56s.

An interesting sideline of the race is the fact that the great German staying source Monsun not only sired the runner-up Vengeur Masque, but is also the damsire of the winner Shraaoh. The same stallion sired three Melbourne Cup winners in four years including Fiorente, the forebear of today’s opening race winner Power Scheme.

Sydney Cup, photo finish picture ATC

What the beaten jockeys said:

James McDonald (The Taj Mahal): “He travelled up well. He just didn’t let down.”

Damian Lane (Sound): “He just pulled too hard. I got into a lovely spot at the first corner but he got overracing and I had to go around. I thought he ran well considering.”

Glyn Schofield (Patrick Erin): “He ran well. He showed no speed early but he finished well.”

Jason Collett (Red Cardinal): “Was quite keen most of the way, wasn’t able to finish off.”

Brenton Avdulla (Big Duke): “He ran honest. From gate 20 he had to go back, the speed of the race was slow and probably a drying track doesn’t suit him but I thought he still ran credible.”

Robbie Dolan (Sir Charles Road): “He didn’t get much luck from the barrier. Caught out three deep most of the trip. Travelled into it okay coming to the bend and then he just got tired.”

Craig Williams (Yogi): “He set himself a task by leaving the gates so slow so he’s got the majority of the field in front of him, all bar one or two. Got on the back of the eventual third horse along the side but he failed to really quicken up like I know he can do at his best but he has returned to scale missing two shoes so that could be his excuse today.”

Tommy Berry (Brimham Rocks): “He just went too keen which didn’t allow him to finish off.”

Kerrin McEvoy (Dubhe): “He was sluggish out of the gates. He never travelled at all. I was forever trying to get him onto the bridle and he stayed on okay home but not quick enough through the first part.”

Jamie Kah (Midterm): “I was happy with him, he just pulled a bit too hard early and probably wants it a bit wetter than that.”

Corey Brown (Glory Days): “Ran terrific. Just a little bit honest for two miles. She sat up on the bridle really solid. Gave me a good kick, I thought I was the winner at the top of the straight but took a bit of wind out of her sails by pulling.”

Kathy O'Hara (Zacada): “The race probably wasn’t run quite genuinely enough for him. I didn’t get him to really switch off underneath me and they just dashed home too quick for him.”

Glen Boss (Gallic Chieftain): “He ran his race in real patches. He gave me a lovely ride then at at the 1000m when I needed him to be there for me he wasn’t there for a furlong and a half. That ultimately cost me a lot of spots but he was okay.”

Sam Clipperton (Rondinella): “Cracking run. For a four-year-old mare to be in a tough staying event over 3200m it was a good effort. Probably not quite ready for that but watch out for her in the spring.”

Tim Clark (Semari): “She had a nice trip, probably just didn’t run the two miles today.”

Michael Dee (Top Of The Range): “Just pulled too hard the whole way. I still thought his last 100m was good.”

James Innes Jnr (Rodrico): “Ended up in a lovely position. Bounced quick, ended up a couple of pairs back on the fence. Travelled up well, I thought he was going to run a sneaky race but what he had on the bridle was what he had off.”

Andrew Gibbons (Doukhan): “Super effort. Full credit to Kris to keep the horse up racing competitively in a Group 1 as a 10-year-old. My job was easy, to give him a gem of a ride. He tried his guts out and is a genuine stayer.”