Four stayers to keep a close eye on as the autumn carnival looms near are Skymax, Spirit Ridge, Sacramento and Great House.
Skymax has just come off a win in the Australia Day Cup where he knocked off 2019 Coongy Cup winner Wolfe (JPN). Skymax was forced to make a move at the mile mark in the 2400m event. Seeing Wolfe getting it all too easy in the early stages Robbie Dolan virtually rounded the entire field to take the lead. As they turned for home on the Warwick Farm straight most witnesses would have agreed that Skymax had every reason to fade as the Japanese 5 year old put the pressure on. By the 100m mark Wolfe had drawn as close as he would get as Skymax dug deep to fight off his more senior rival. Many would put the Listed win down to the disparity in weight as Skymax carried 53kg to Wolfe’s 59kg, but Skymax did make that mid-race move which reduced his energy reserves for the last 600m. Trainer Mark Newnham said of the German import, “We have had a really good run through the summer in these types of races and he still has improvement to come.” Skymax has been racing since 21st November, having four starts this prep for two wins with races spaced out by about 3 weeks. No indication has been given publicly what the long term plans are for Skymax.
The long term plans for Spirit Ridge are well known. Trained by Mark Newnham as well, the British 5 year old is being set for a tilt at the Sydney Cup on 10th April. Fresh from a win in the January Cup on 9th January, the trainer revealed plans to take the gelding to the Manion Cup (20th March) over 2400m before the two mile torture test of the Sydney Cup. Spirit Ridge knocked off Wolfe by a similarly close margin as Skymax, but did it with 55.5kg to Wolfe’s 58kg.
Sacramento has been in racing this preparation since his 3rd at Randwick on 26th December 2020. Since then he won his next two starts over 1800m and 2000m respectively. In his most recent win Sacramento knocked off a horse called New Arrangement by 2.3L whilst carrying the same 57kg as the aforementioned. New Arrangement also raced against Spirit Ridge back on 12th December and finished 5.8L behind the British stayer, albeit over 1600m. This gives Spirit Ridge an edge over Sacramento but Sacramento is only 4 years old and logic tells us he may have more scope for improvement.
Great House had an impressive win at only his second start in Australia when he won over 2000m at Rosehill on a Soft7 surface. The win came on 30th January and using a corresponding runner (My Demetra) we can draw some formline comparisons with Sacramento. Great House beat My Demetra by 5.1L carrying 53.5kg to My Demetra’s 52.5kg. When Sacramento beat My Demetra, Sacramento carried 59.5kg to My Demetra’s 52.5kg on a Soft5 over 1800m. Given that the track surfaces are slightly different and the distance a little shorter such comparisons can’t be considered deadly accurate. However, going on the 1.5kg equals 1 length equation the two horses Great House and Sacramento would almost dead heat. NOTE: Great House was easing up from 75m out while Sacramento fought all the way to the line to grab a stubborn win.
In concluding I will say that we don’t know if these four horses will meet in the next couple of months but my preference when outlaying my hard earned is generally to have a horse that’s an on pace runner. Skymax was tardy out of the gates but eventually made the pace in his recent win. He will turn five in March, and in April he would be a force to be reckoned with if steered toward the Sydney Cup.