Another day and another Everest drama, Randwick’s $200,000, Group 2 Bowerman’s Office Furniture Shorts (1100m) on Saturday was meant to be a mini-Everest, however, first the $1.80 favourite all week, Redzel was scratched on race morning and second the race was won by Ball Of Muscle, who does not have an Everest slot.
Never mind, there is still a month to the $13m invitation race over 1200m on the same course on October 13th and there is much that can happen before base camp sets off for the summit.
Trainer Joe Pride said that he had not spoken to the last slot holders, Max Whitby and Neil Werritt, but he would certainly talk to them if they wished about the possibility of a slot for his tough and lightly raced eight-year-old who he describes as being in the best form of his career.
Ball Of Muscle has form in The Shorts, he was second in 2017, 2016 and 2015, plus his brother Terravista won the race in 2014.
Pride commenced this campaign for Ball Of Muscle, a gelding by Dubawi, by sending him to Caulfield for the Group 3 The Heath over 1100m and he won by 1L over Voodoo Lad and Brave Smash (JPN).
Back at the track where Ball Of Muscle had previously won twice, and placed five times from ten starts, he led from start to finish under Glyn Schofield stepping out quick sectionals that had the rest in trouble a long way out.
The field gained on Ball Of Muscle over the final 100m as the early pace dictated, but Ball Of Muscle and Schofield had judged it well. The winning margin was a half-head over Everest contender Invincible Star (I Am Invincible) and James McDonald with 3/4L to another Everest contender, Brave Smash (Tosen Phantom) and Hugh Bowman.
The other Everest contender English was sixth just on 4L from the winner.
Ball Of Muscle and Glyn Schofield, picture Stevehart.com.au
The time was 1.02.87 on the Good 4 track with the final 600m in 33.66. Ball Of Muscle paid $5.00 on fixed odds and $4.70 on the tote, Invincible Star was the $2.60 favourite.
“It is funny to see an eight-year-old in what looks to be career best form but it would be hard to argue that,” said Pride.
“He is a horse who makes his own luck while other horses, you could make the case for the filly to be unlucky but he puts himself in the spot. He is a very fast horse and most effective at Randwick.”
“He was breaking 11 (seconds per sectional) and when they have that racing pattern they have to come back in the end but was really strong again today. Really proud of the performance and he will improve a bit more for his next couple of starts.”
“He is racing in career best form and he will give a great sight. Some of these other horses may or may not have performed at Randwick but this horse is extremely consistent. He is very fast and will give a sight,” he added if there was an invitation for The Everest.
“It is nice that he has run second in this race three times in a row and has now eventually won it. It is great for him and his connections," said Schofield.
“He just comes out really quick, his foot’s flat from the word go. I was lucky that I could gather him mid-race and while he wants to high roll I just was able to hold onto him for 100m or so around the side and he just found enough late. He has beaten Everest horses in his last two starts,” he said.
Ball of Muscle, out of the Gold Brose mare Parfore, may now head to the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at The Valley on September 28th, if there are no phone calls for Everest discussions. He was second to Buffering in the 2015 running of the Moir Stakes.
This was his 11th win from 35 starts and with 14 placings he has earned stakes of $1,122,425 for owners Mr A J Rix, Mr M J Rix, Ungar Family, Mr T M Ungar, Mr P J Trowbridge, Mr J W Owsnett, Mr I G Cornell, Mr N B Couper, N P G Syndicate and Mr R P Coombs.
The Shorts, photo finish picture ATC
What the beaten jockeys said:
Hugh Bowman (Brave Smash): “Superb”
Tye Angland (The Monstar): “Good run, did everything right and is probably a horse that will appreciate coming down the outside.”
Tim Clark (English): “She just blew out late a few of them other horses had had a run, she will improve a lot of improvement from it and it wasn’t ideal losing the plate at the gates and she pulled a bit of foot off as well but getting to the Everest she will be alright.”
Corey Brown (Big Money): “I think his career may have nearly come to and end he was okay but he has just lost that fighting spirit and is not the horse he used to be.”
Robert Thompson (After All That): “He went absolutely super, real tickled pink with his run and he will only improve off that as well.
James McDonald (Invincible Star): “Very happy with that, was unlucky not to win but I think you could take it as good as a win because she travelled well, sprinted really good and last time she stopped but today she found the line really well.”
Glyn Schofield, picture Sportpix.com.au