If anyone can take a horse from midweek company to a group 1 win it is Gai Waterhouse and she did just that when Romantic Touch led all-the-way to win the $500,000 Group 1 Patinack Farm J.J. Atkins (1600m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Romantic Touch struggled at his first two starts but Waterhouse changed tactics on the gelding two starts back, allowing him to run along in front, and the results have been more than impressive.
The son of Northern Meteor won a Warwick Farm maiden on 1 May then backed that up three weeks later with a seven length romp at Canterbury and it was then that he booked himself a start in Saturday’s group 1.
Ridden by Nash Rawiller, Romantic Touch jumped well from the barriers and Rawiller quickly pushed him to the lead and, it seems, that was the winning move. The pair had a slight breather in the mid stages then after entering the straight, Romantic Touch fought on strongly from the 200m mark to hold his rivals at bay.
The end result was a half length win over Zoustar (Cassidy) who enjoyed a lovely run in behind the speed but couldn’t bridge the gap when asked. The end result also saw Northern Meteor quinella the event.
A short head away in third was Paximadia (McEvoy) who sat second in the race but also couldn’t pull Romantic Star back in. The overall time was 1.36.54 with the last 600m run in 35.81.
“He is very athletic,” Rawiller said. “There have been a few signs that he has had enough this time in, so to come out and do what he did is a good effort from a really good horse on the way up.
“He makes his own luck. We did a bit of early work to establish the lead, I didn’t want everyone driving me mad and I think for that reason we got a soft mid race.
“I waited as long as I could to go for him and when I did he gave a really good burst of speed.”
“It is such a special win and after the month that Gai has had, this will mean so much to her,” racing manager, Bruce Slade said.
“A group 1 two-year-old race! She is the queen of racing, the best two-year-old trainer in the world and to end the season on a note like this means a lot.
“She has always held the horse in very high regard, he was gelded and came back a different horse mentally and Gai has worked her magic on him and he has just gotten better with every track gallop and every race.
“He has a high cruising speed and he is a close relation to Desert War and he is going to get better next season. He has so much promise and so much ahead (of him).”
Romantic Touch is out of the Snippets mare Dearness and is owned by Gooree Pastoral Company (Mgr: Miss M C Barrera).
Romantic Touch and Nash Rawiller, picture Sportpix.com.au