Chris Waller’s Royal Descent rediscovers winning touch in Group 2 feature at Randwick
ROYAL Descent ended more than two years of frustration and near-misses with a magnificent comeback win against a star-studded field at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) lived up to the pre-race hype, producing a memorable contest and outstanding runs from so many spring carnival hopefuls.
But when looking for the best run in the race — don’t look past the winner, Royal Descent.
It has been 29 months, 19 races, 10 minor placings, including six at Group 1 level, since Royal Descent last won a race — but trainer Chris Waller sprung to the defence of the sleek, near-black mare.
“She is the last horse I would ever call a non-winner,’’ Waller said. “I know that is what her form suggests but you would not get a horse that tries as hard as this mare. She has been so gallant in so many races, almost setting weight-carrying records in races like the Epsom.
“Even though she is a six-year-old now, she hasn’t had a lot of racing and she has never looked better or stronger than she does now. She is in for a good spring.’’
Royal Descent ($5.50), ridden by Hugh Bowman, overwhelmed Pornichet ($4.80) to win by one-and-a-half lengths with Messene ($11) getting through late for third, a neck away.
The Warwick Stakes, the traditional Sydney spring carnival starting point for the elite gallopers, was a race of many highlights — and one lowlight:
Royal Descent became only the second mare this century to win the race after Private Steer in 2004.
Bowman said his confidence grew the moment he was legged into the saddle prior to the race.
“I haven’t ridden Royal Descent a lot but I’ve ridden her enough to realise she was in the right frame of mind and was ready to go today,’’ Bowman said.
“She’s been narrowly defeated in so many races and to get a win, I know it’s a Group 2 but against this calibre of horse, it’s no surprise.
“We got a great run. I was always going to. Chris (Waller) had the mare in tip-top order today, although I do think she will improve with the run.’’
Sydney’s reigning premier jockey and trainer then had an interesting exchange after Royal Descent’s win.
“She is happy, she is healthy, she can gallop, and she has you (Waller) looking after,’’ Bowman said.
“And you riding her — it’s a pretty good combination,’’ Waller replied.
Waller said Royal Descent will follow a similar program through to the Group 1 George Main Stakes next month.
“The George Main is ideal,’’ Waller said. “The Epsom, for $1 million, we have to look at it but she might get too much weight.
“I said to [owner] Gerry Harvey we will use Epsom Day whether it be the Turnbull or Epsom to decide where we go, whether we go further or whether we come back for a Myer Classic.’’
Magic Millions Class 6 winner Real Time (Testa Rossa/Bure Beauty 10 gelding) made a triumphant return to the track on Saturday winning the Catanach's Jewellers Handicap (1200 METRES) at his home track at Caulfield.
Allocated the big impost of 60kgs the son of Testa Rossa looked impressive running away for a length victory. After the race his trainer Robert Smerdon said he was looking forward to the upcoming months for this lightly raced horse. Real Time can be a touch “quirky” and Robert has managed to keep his mind on the job with great success with his record now reading 5 wins from 8 starts. Hopefully we will see him at the Magic Millions again in January this time aiming for the Magic Millions Cup over 1400m.
Centre Pivot, owned 50/50 by Gerry Harvey and Segenhoe Stud, will head to the paddock at Segenhoe Stud to concentrate on next year's rich Magic Millions carnival at the Gold Coast. John Sergeant confirmed Saturday's TAB.com.au Handicap at Rosehill would be the five-year-old's final start this campaign before he will be given a let up with a view towards the Magic Millions Trophy (1800m) on January 9.
"I'd like to give him this run and then he can have a nice break, three weeks, and get ready for Magic Millions day," Sargent said.
"It's a million dollar race and should suit him."
Centre Pivot was formerly trained by Sam Kavanagh and is one of the horses at the centre of the ongoing cobalt inquiry.
Sargent took over at the start of the horse's current campaign and initially feared cobalt had damaged Centre Pivot's feet.
"Probably at the start of it, he was losing a few shoes but now his feet have come good and he obviously proved he was over any side effects at his last start," Sargent said.
"He's right on top of his game now."
Centre Pivot bounced back from a first-up flop to score a determined win at Rosehill two weeks ago and Sargent said the horse's work indicated he had continued to improve.