Horse of the year farce as Racing Australia recall ballots

The nation’s peak body, Racing Australia, faces the embarrassment of being forced to recall horse of the year ballots after leaving major contenders out of a number of categories, including Australian Chanpion Racehorse of the Year-elect Verry Elleegant in her pet middle-distance range.

The ballot was sent to journalists and racing administrators last week and the two-year-old category didn’t include group 1 winners Converge and Captivant nor Ingratiating, the Blue Diamond runner-up and Golden Slipper placegetter.

James McDonald salutes on Verry Elleegant as she wins the Ranvet Stakes over 200m earlier this yearCredit:Getty

But the most glaring omissions were in the middle distance category, from a mile to 2200m, where Verry Elleegant and Zaaki, who scored the most explosive win of the season in the Doomben Cup, were missing.

Verry Elleegant was only horse to win more than two group 1 races for the season and won three of them at the middle distance range — the Turnbull Stakes, the Chipping Norton Stakes and Ranvet Stakes — as well as being the runner-up in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

She chalked up more than $3 million in prizemoney at a mile and 2000m.

Other omissions were two-time Brisbane group 1 winner Tofane, who was left out of the champion sprinter voting despite winning the Stradbroke, while Instant Celebrity, who won the Robert Sangster Stakes against the older mares, and Surround Stakes winner Forbidden Love were not in the three-year-old filly of the year voting.

Dual group 1 winner Tofane was another inexplicable omission.Credit:Getty

The Joseph O’Brien-trained Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment has been nominated for stayer of the year, even though he wasn’t eligible because he is trained outside Australia.

Racing Australia chief executive Myles Foreman was unable to explain the stuff-up when contacted about the omissions but said the process will have to be restarted.

Eduardo finally gets his Everest slot

Joe Pride has never doubted Eduardo would get back to The Everest, but he had to watch half the field be decided before The Star and Arrowfield Stud selected his two-time group 1 winning sprinter in their slot for the world’s richest race on turf at Randwick on October 16.

Trainer Joe Pride is bullish about Eduardo’s chance in The Shorts on Saturday.Credit:Getty

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Eduardo secured the slot before he is due to face a number of rivals heading to The Everest in Saturday’s The Shorts, including Lost And Running, Gytrash and Rothfire, all of whom are also using it as a starting point for their campaigns.

Pride is confident Eduardo can replicate his form from the autumn where he smashed the Randwick 1000m record beating Nature Strip in the Challenge Stakes.

“What he did last preparation beating Nature Strip was just a sign of things to come,” Pride said.

“He is not the sort of horse that needs a run. The way he has come back he will show straight away.

“I think he is the horse to beat in The Shorts because he loves 1100m and he is smart as a tack.

“He won’t be favourite but he is the horse to beat on Saturday.”

There is a chance Everest favourites Nature Strip and Masked Crusader could also line up at Randwick, while Classique Legend will wait for the Premiere Stakes in a fortnight after winning a trial on Friday.

Punters hope Zaaki isn’t in George Main entries

Warwick Farm trainer Annabel Neasham announced on Friday that Zaaki would head to Melbourne for his next start in next week’s Underwood Stakes, so pre-post punters will be hoping the star import isn’t nominated for the George Main Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.

Zaaki accounts for a fifth of the money wagered with the TAB in the pre-nominations for the George Main Stakes, which will only be refunded if he is not in the entries taken on Monday.

Cox Plate favourite Zaaki is headed to Melbourne for the Underwood.Credit:Getty

It leaves Verry Elleegant as the clear favourite for the group 1 mile and trainer Chris Waller is confident about the Zed mare’s chances after she quickened up well in a track gallop on Friday, instead of trialling after being Winx Stakes runner-up last month.

“She doesn’t need quite as much work as Winx needed [in the past],” Waller observed. “We used to take Winx for exhibition gallops, we just needed them to keep her up to the mark. Verry Elleegant is very clean-winded and she is ready to go after that gallop.”

Thompson, Carmody face possible ban for COVID breaches

Randwick trainers John Thompson and Craig Carmody have been charged with alleged breaches of Racing NSW COVID-19 policies and orders after facing stewards accompanied by lawyers on Thursday afternoon.

The pair lived in locked down local government areas but had continued to attend trackwork and race meetings for the past month.

They face charges of conduct prejudicial to the image and/or interests of racing and another of breaching Racing NSW.

The first charge is same one that saw jockey Billy Owen, apprentice Teaghan Martin and four Canberra stablehands given three-month suspensions for attending a one-off party.

Thompson and Carmody will learn their fate on Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, former jockey manager John Walter had his disqualification period for betting while he was managing Tim Clark and Josh Parr shortened by the Racing NSW appeals panel last week from six months to five.

Latino Blend, Najmaty ready to step up in trip

Paul Snowden believes Latino Blend and Najmaty will prove their group 1 mile credentials in Saturday’s Tea Rose Stakes at Randwick.

As the Princess Series steps up to 1400m, Snowden feels Saturday’s group 2 will be more in the wheelhouse of his fillies.

The Silver Shadow Stakes runner-up Latino Blend went back to the barrier trials rather than run in the Furious Stakes, where stablemate Najmaty finished midfield.

“She just needed the next trip, so we waited for this race and I think she will show she is a really Flight [Stakes] filly,” Snowden said. “Najmaty is also a filly that is going to like this longer trip, and I think she will improve again.”

Furious Stakes winner Jamaea will skip the Tea Rose to run against the colts in next week’s Golden Rose chasing a group 1 victory after twice winning at group 2 level.

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