search the site
Norwegian, a close relation of The Thoroughbred Magazing Club’s Bel Esprit 2YO filly, made a sound racing debut at Bendigo last Saturday.
Norwegian is a 2YO colt by Testa Rossa from Midnight Sun (by Western Symphony), a Stakes-winning half-sister to Song Of The Sun (Desert Sun-Song Of The Sun), the dam of our BelrnrnEsprit filly, finished third behind the promising Little Gem in a 1000m 2YO Maiden. Norwegian is owned by his breeder Robert Crabtree and trained by Robert Smerdon at Caulfield.
Little Gem ran the 1000m in a slick 57.78 secs, and while Norwegian was beaten more than six lengths, the run will do him the world of good, and he shapes as though he will be suited when the races stretched over more distance.
Midnight Sun, a grey mare like her dam Song Of Norway, won the 1999 STC Listed Winter Handicap (2400m) at Rosehill.
WE SAW IT
Four-and-a-half years ago at an ordinary Geelong meeting a horse called Al Tharb won a 1500m Class 1 (i.e., one rung above a Maiden). It was the first win for Ahmed Ajtebi, a young rider from the United Arab Emirates who came to Melbourne as an apprentice with Australian John Sadler, who had justreturned from training in Dubai.
At an extraordinary meeting in Dubai on Saturday night, Ajtebi, who is still an apprentice, had two extraordinary wins – at the World Cup meeting he was first home by 3-1/4 lengths in the Group 1 $US5million Dubai Duty Free (1777m), leading all the way (by a big margin) on Gladiatorus (B h 2005, Silic (Fr)-Gmaasha (Ire), by Kris (GB)), who paid $13 with English betting shops – there is no betting in Dubai; and in the Group 1 $US5 million Sheema Classic (2400m) he came from well back on $15 chance Eastern Anthem (B h 2004, Singspiel (Ire)-Kazzia (Ger), by Zinaad (GB to win by a nose in the last stride.
Ajtebi, now 26 or 28 according to various press reports, celebrated both wins in the manner he celebrated the Geelong breakthrough, standing high in the irons – at Geelong, stewards fined him $200; at Nad Al Sheba, the joy brought plaudits.
And so it should have, the tyro outriding some of the world’s best jockeys at one of the world’srichest race meetings. He judged the pace beautifully – from both ends of the field.
Atjebi, a camel rider as boy (he is reported to have had 200 winners from 3000 rideson camels), turned to horses on the advice of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. “He pushed me,” Ajtebi told English papers. “He said that the UAE had horses in training everywhere in the world, but Dubai had no jockeys. I told him that I had never ridden a horse in my life, but I would try.”
The young man is listed as having only two Australian thoroughbred rides, for the one win on Al Tharb (Ch g 2000, Grand Lodge (USA)-Pontal Lass, by Marauding (NZ), early in the 2004 season. Since then he has ridden up the ranks in Dubai and has had stints in South Africa and England. Last year, he had a winner at the Royal Ascot meeting before being sent back to Dubai because his visa was invalid.
Next step – and apparently not too far away – could be a new job as No. 2 to Frankie Dettori with Sheikh Mohammed’s world racing team, Godolphin. Yes, that’s the job Kerrin McEvoy left to return as top dog in Australia for the Sheikh’s Darley team.
By the way, Atjebi was no poor boy when he began his apprenticeship with Sadler in Dubai while the Australian (now Lloyd Williams’ trainer in Victoria) was training there – he turned up for the job in a Mercedes Sports. And Sadler gave him his first race ride on a thoroughbred, Junction Line at Nad Al Sheba in 2003.
“It’s just fantastic for him,” Sadler told The Age of the World Cup wins. “He certainly had an apprenticeship with a difference as he came to me with a very wealthy background but a great preparedness to be successful as a jockey. His work ethic was good, but where the difference lay was that, for the first time, Sheikh Mohammed was making sure that the locals were being involved in the racing business.”
We saw two horses stand out in the fruitless chase of Gladiatorus andAjtebi in the Dubai Duty Free: Luca Cumani’s Presvis, who came from last to finish second; and David Hayes’ Niconero (B g, Danzero-Nicola Lass, by Scenic (Ire)), who showed he is at the absolute top of his game at seven years of age with a strong fourth (although eight lengths from the winner) after successive Group 1 wins in Melbourne (the 1600m Futurity Stakes and the 2000m Australian Cup).
Presvis (B g 2004, Sakhee (USA)-Forest Fire (Swe), by Never So Bold (GB)) would be an exciting Cox Plate entry if Cumani were to travel him with the stable’s this year’s Melbourne Cup entrant(s), and would add quality and international flavour to Australia’s weight-for-age championship with Hong Kong trainer John Moore already declaring he wants to bring Collection (B g 2005, Peintre Celebre (USA)-Lasting Chance (USA), by American Chance (USA), super winner of last week’s Hong Kong Derby (2000m, for four-year-olds) for the Plate.
We saw an ever bigger winner than Gladiatorus. Well Armed (B g 2003, Tiznow (USA)-Well Dressed (USA), by Notebook (USA)) won the Group 1 $US6million Dubai World Cup (2000m) on dirt by an amazing 14 lengths, with jockey Aaron Gryder patting the horse on the neck for the last 100m or so. It was the biggest win in the World Cup.
Back home, we saw Nash Rawiller momentarily drop his hands 20 metres from the line on third placegetter Rock Kingdom ($4.60), beaten a half-head and a nose by Metal Bender ($4.40 favourite) and Sousa ($13) in the Group 1 $500,000 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on Saturday. Stewards did, too, fining him $2000 on top of suspending him from Sunday April 5 until midnight Friday April 17 – it might not have cost Rock Kingdom (Ch g 3, Rock Of Gibraltar (Ire)-Happy Empress, by St Covet) the $325,000 first prize, but it almost certainly cost him second place (worth $100,000 to third’s $45,000), which would have changed quinella, forecast, trifecta and first four dividends.
Marquardt’s run in the Magic Night Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill was a ripper. Jockey Peter Robl snagged the filly back to last from a wide gate and, still there on the turn, she powered inside and between horses to go down by a half-head to Indian Ocean. If owner Nathan Tinkler pays the $150,000 late entry for Saturday’s Group 1 $3.5 million Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) for Marquardt (B or br f 2, Shamardal (US)-Centrefold Angel (NZ), by Centaine) she should get at least some of it back – first pays $2million, second $620,000, third $310,000, fourth $190,000, fifth $130,000 and sixth to 10th $50,000. Tinkler has spent considerably more than $100million in the past couple of years setting up the racing and breeding arms of Patinack Farm, so a breakthrough win in a feature race by one of his purchases would be welcome. Marquardt (named after the American centerfold model Bridget Marquardt) cost $100,000 at the 2008 NZ Premier Yearling Sale.
Connections of Victorian filly Rostova (B f 2, Testa Rossa-Space Talk, by Anabaa (USA)) will cough up their late entry – again it could be money well spent in a race that, now, appears to go a fair bit wider than the two favourites, Real Saga and More Joyous.
THEY SAID IT
“You’d go to war with him. He was fantastic.” Jockey Craig Williams after Niconero’s fighting fourth under extreme pressure in the Dubai Duty Free.
“She’s just a bit dour now after her last couple of runs (Group 1 and 2 wins in Sydney).” Rider Darren Beadman after Tuesday Joy’s struggling ninth in the Duty Free.
“He’s genuine, he knows how to put his head out.” Jockey Dan Nikolic on Metal Bender (B g 3, Danasinga-Jacqwin, by Bluebird (USA)), the Rosehill Guineas winner. Having also won the Randwick Guineas (1600m), horse, rider and veteran trainer Jack Denham will chase Sydney’s triple crown for three-year-olds in the Group 1 $1.6million AJC Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 11.
“He walks around with his head on the ground – he’s like an old farm pony.” Nikolic on Metal Bender’s laidback nature.
“I’ve got a good opinion of her and she’ll probably go to the Easter Cup.” Trainer of the moment Mick Price on Miss Maren, his oh-so-easy $1.65 winner of the Ethereal Handicap (2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday. And if Miss Maren (Ch m 4, Stravinsky (US)-Deebee Lady (NZ), by Brilliant Invader) does well in the Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) at Caulfield on April 11, she might go on to the Group 1 $500,000 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 25. Laser surgery on a membrane in her epiglotis has got the mare back on track this campaign.Price has had 14 winners from 50 runners this month, 92-456 this season.
WE’LL WATCH IT
Make that we’ll watch them, meaning the five Group 1 races at Rosehill on Saturday – the $3.5million Slipper is the standout, but don’t miss the $2.25million BMW (2400m), the $400,000 George Ryder Stakes (1500m), the $400,000 Queen Of The Turf (1500m) for fillies and mares and the $400,000 Storm Queen Stakes (2000m) for 3YO fillies.
The progress of Brenton Avdulla is worth some study. The Caulfield apprentice has been taken along slowly by trainer John Moloney and, now, is worth every gram of his 3kg claim in the city. March wins include Saturday’s on Miss Maren, Hushrose at Sandown and Cocinero and Miss Badoura at Moonee Valley. And, claiming his country entitlement of 1.5kg, Avdulla rode a double at Yarra Valley yesterday.
Trainer Robbie Griffiths has organised for The Thoroughbred Magazine Club’s 2YO filly by Bel Esprit from Song Of The Sun to be sent from pre-training to his Cranbourne stables. The filly is expected to be picked up at Eliza Park early next week.
The impressive filly has continued to work strongly for Eliza Park’s pre-trainer Sue Ellis, who has had the filly striding along at three-quarter pace. Sue has sent us a video of the filly working in company at Eliza Park.
The filly arrives at Cranbourne in wake of the good news that her sire Bel Esprit produced his first Group 1 winner when Bel Esprit won the Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) last Saturday at Morphettville.
It’s a long road to a Group 1 win, and one most trainers never travel. Ben Janiak has been there, as a strapper and part-owner with father-trainer Joe Janiak and Australia’s fairytale horse, Takeover Target.
Ben Janiak, 26, took the first step on his own with his debut winner, Padgino, in a lowly rating 0-67 race, the Hume Event Hire Handicap (1000m), on opening day of the Albury Gold Cup carnival yesterday.
Padgino (B g 7, Perugino (USA)-Ribhinn (Celtic Spirit (NZ)) paid $45 on the NSW TAB, blowing most punters out of the quadrella in the first leg and blowing Janiak away.
“This is my first winner. This is only the second horse that I’ve started,” he said, not wanting to talk about the other. “It was no good – we’ll leave that out.”
Janiak can thank a super rails hugging ride from Albury jockey Brendan Ward for the win, Padgino coming from last at the top of the straight to nab the leader, Ivory’s Image, on the line.
“I’m a full-time trainer now,” said Janiak, who has four horses in work. “I’m based in Canberra. Dad’s got his own stable in Coffs Harbour (stables he bought with Takeover Targets’s earnings) and I’m on my way in Canberra. I’ve been on my own now probably nine months, and (I have) all outside owners.”
Padgino’s owner is Victorian businessman Phil Sly, the big backer of successful trainer Leon Corstens at Romsey, north of Melbourne.
Takeover Target was stabled at Corstens’ stables when Joe (and Ben) Janiak last brought him to Melbourne, and Ben said he met Sly on a trip to New Zealand with NZ Bloodstock. “He asked me if I wanted the horse, and I said I’d take it on.”
Padgino campaigned unsuccessfully in Perth in the spring after a handful of Victorian country wins and was having his first run since Melbourne Cup day when he was ninth of 10 at Ascot. Yesterday was his 46th start, his sixth win. He earned $6500, and he has a career earn of $58,910. Takeover Target (B g 9 Celtic Swing (GB)-Shady Stream, by Archregent (Can)) has won 19-37, including Group 1s at home and abroad, and has earned more than $5.5 million. He cost only $1400 at a dispersal sale.
Ben Janiak has been part of the Takeover story since he took time off his job as a brickie’s labourer to help his father with the horse for his maiden win, at Queanbeyan in April 2004.
Ben said he had learned from watching his father and from travelling the world with Takeover Target, but he said he would not be going on the nine-year-old’s planned farewell tour (his fourth) to England for this year’s Royal Ascot meeting. “I can’t get away. I’m too committed to where I am at the moment,” he said. “The ball is starting to roll for me.”
When Ben got his licence, Joe said: “I’m proud of him and I hope he has success. He knows all about the hardships involved in training and if he needs it, I’ll help him as much as I can.”
The new winner’s comment yesterday? “I hope I don’t have to wait as long as he did for a Group 1 horse, but I’m just trying to build the stable up and get a little bit more quality in the joint – your name needs to be in the paper to get that quality.”
Download the ASCOT quaddie
Download the ROSEHILL Big6
I have received a comprehensive report on our Bel Esprit filly from Sue Ellis at Eliza Park. She has been very complimentary of the filly’s progress in pre-training and I have organised a float to pick up the filly next week (from Monday, March 30).
Sue has the filly striding three-quarter pace, which gives her a good grounding for a heavier workload once she arrives at Cranbourne. I will continue with that sort of work for a week or so, to allow the filly to settle back into the stable environment, and then her workload will pick up to a gallop in two to three weeks time.
She should be ready for a trial in five or six weeks, although I will be guided by how she is handling the extra work before I make a firm decision. She is a tall, leggy filly, and although she showed good speed when last in work, I feel she will be a filly that will improve once she gets over some ground.
If Enver Jusufovic, born from Bosnian and Slovenian parents, had a dollar for every time he was asked to repeat or spell his name, he would own a string of racehorses, not be training them.
Jusufovic – “call me EJ” – is far from a household name in racing, but around the strong “horsey” area of Cranbourne, he is popular and well respected. After a time working for trainer Greg Eurell, Jusufovic, who has a sense of humour as dry as a Mallee dam, has made his living out of breaking-in and pre-training horses for others, but all along he has harboured lofty training ambitions.
Jusufovic trained his first winner in 1994 (Pride Of Nicholas at Stony Creek) when he held an owner-trainer licence, but in 2002, he left Eurell’s employment to take out his own professional licence. While he made an immediate impact with city winners Beach Box, Jacques and Brief Eruption, he has found it a struggle to attract the clientele needed to support a self-sufficient professional operation.
After moving into spacious and well-appointed stables vacated when Nigel Blackiston moved in Flemington in 2005, Jusufovic, while training a small team of his own, has mainly earned his living as a specialist pre-trainer for fellow Cranbourne-trainer Robbie Griffiths, and it is through that relationship that Jusufovic’s luck has turned.
One of Griffiths’ clients, bloodstock agent Tim Stewart, rewarded Jusufovic’s good work with the pre-trainers by sending him a horse to train. A big, tall, immature son of the disappointing stallion Hemingway (by Spectrum) and the Marauding mare Enchant arrived at Cranbourne in the winter of 2008. The colt was an orphan, raised by a foster mare after his mother died three days after giving birth in September 2006. While grateful of getting the horse to train, Jusufovic could easily have been forgiven for thinking he was getting a “hand-me-down” horse with little future.
“I broke him in, and he went nicely, but he went sore, so I had to spell him for three months. I wasn’t holding high hopes at all,” Jusufovic said. “As it turned out, the break was the best thing for the horse, as he matured and developed.”
The youngster returned to the stables in the summer and under his new name, Briefed, showed immediate talent. Jusufovic also discovered that the colt’s half-brother, I’m Elite, a son of Bel Esprit, and also very tall and late maturing, was showing great ability in Perth, winning a succession of trials in brilliant fashion. (I’m Elite won a $40,000 3YO feature at Pinjarra on March 1).
Jusufovic’s expectations of Briefed grew and after the leggy colt impressing in his work and trials. Briefed made his debut on Wednesday at Sale, where the strapping 2YO powered to the line for an easy debut win (2YO Maiden.1210m). He landed a plunge, firming $5.50 into $4.40.
“He had three jump-outs at Cranbourne and performed well in all of them. We were confident he’d run well,” Jusufovic said. “I was a little apprehensive but when Mark (jockey Mark Flaherty) told me before the race that he expected him to win, my confidence grew.”
Briefed will now be set for a mid-week metropolitan race at Sandown, where the big spacious circuit will suit the long-striding horse. “I’d like to get him over some more ground, as I think it will suit him,” Jusufovic said.
With his confidence at a high, Jusufovic is keen to bolster his team with some well-bred stock, especially in this depressed yearling sale market, and he was active at the recent Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, buying colts by Fusaichi Pegasus and Rock Of Gibraltar. “It was good buying for colts at that sale, and I am breaking in the Fusaichi Pegasus colt, and he really is impressing me,” the trainer said.
Hemingway (B h 1998, Spectrum (IRE)-Welsh Love, by Ala-Mana-Mou), unbeaten in two starts in England before injury finished his racing career, stood for five seasons at Chatswood Stud, Seymour. His initial fee was $8250, but dropped to $5500 for the next four seasons. For the past two springs, the bay stallion has stood at Bullarook Park Stud (formerly the old Glen Appin Stud), at Avenel, at a fee of $3300, and in 2008 covered a healthy book of 68 mares.
Hemingway is a half-brother to Miss Andretti’s unheralded sire Ihtiram (by Royal Academy) and another successful sire Second Empire (by Fairy King). He is also closely related to the champion filly Salsabil (by Sadler’s Wells) and her half-brother, good sire Marju (by Last Tycoon). Hemingway has produced only 84 named foals, but he has the excellent result of 30 individual winners from 48 starters.
Briefed has come along just at the right time for his sire, and his trainer.
THEY SAID IT
“The Melbourne guys work doubly hard as the guys in Sydney,” said Glen Boss, comparing jockeys’ work ethic in his new southern base to those in Sydney.
Boss is cocky again, having broken a big race drought that lasted for all of 11 months when Typhoon Tracy (B/br f 3, Red Ransom (USA)-Tracy’s Element (by Last Tycoon (Ire)) won the $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill. As expected, he stood up in the irons straightaway and waved his whip with gusto.
The rider had a big and busy few days with a double at Ballarat on Friday afternoon and a treble at Moonee Valley at night, the Coolmore win at Rosern