The fillies drought in the Spring Champion Stakes is well and truly over after Maid Of Heaven took out the three-year-old feature at Randwick on Saturday.
The Spring Champion Stakes was first held in 1971 and Yankee Rose for David Vandyke was the first filly to claim the event in 2016. It appears the floodgates have opened now after Maid Of Heaven became the second filly in three years to beat the boys.
Maid Of Heaven was backing up in the Spring Champion Stakes after a luckless sixth in the Flight Stakes (1600m) a week prior. Luck was no issue for the daughter of Smart Missile on Saturday as King settled the filly midfield and one off the fence.
Maid Of Heaven becomes just the second filly to win the G1 Spring Champion Stakes @royalrandwick after a perfect dive over the top of Aramayo. Godolphin colt Aramayo provided staunch resistance along the inside however Maid Of Heaven still prevailed by a Long Head.
The run returned Maid Of Heaven a new master Timeform rating of 112 and provided maiden Group 1’s for both Mark Newnham and jockey Rachel King.
It’s unlikely Maid Of Heaven will head to Melbourne for the VRC Oaks and instead be saved for the Sydney version during the autumn.
Maid Of Honour and Rachel King, picture Sportpix.com.au
This means the Spring Champion form will have to be franked in Melbourne courtesy of placegetters Aramayo and Thinkin’ Big. Both colts impressed for different reasons. Aramayo was strong late while Thinkin’ Big stuck on despite a tough run early.
Five of the last nine Spring Champion Stakes renewals have played host to the subsequent Victoria Derby winner. Monaco Consul (2009) and Ace High (2017) each claimed the Spring Champion Stakes/Victoria Derby double. Sangster (2011) and Prized Icon (2016) each ran third in the Spring Champion Stakes of that year and improved to win the Victoria Derby (2500m) during the Flemington Carnival.
The three-year-old sprinters stepped out prior to the feature for the Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) which was won by Queensland Raider Sesar. The Sebring colt was resuming after a strong late season two-year-old prep where he won the Ken Russell Memorial and mixed it with the likes of The Autumn Sun, Zousain and Lean Mean Machine.
There was the sense that Steve O’Dea had him set for a first up strike with Blinkers applied for the first time and it proved to be correct. Dropped from the main field through the early stages, it took until the 600m for the Queenslander to tack onto the tail of the field. The early pace up front began to take its toll from the 300m and Sesar capitalised, powering along the fence for a 1.3 length victory over Sandbar with a further 4 ¼ lengths back to Spin in third.
His performance returned a Timeform rating of 120, a figure equal to the prior five-year-winning average which has been skewed courtesy of Exosphere’s romp in a strong renewal of the Roman Consul in 2015.
The Roman Consul played host to a number of subsequent Group 1 winning sprinters during that five year span with Zoustar, Brazen Beau, Japonisme and Russian Revolution all going on to deliver at the top level.
O’Dea has already suggested 1200m is generally too sharp for Sesar and is already looking for longer distances for his next run in Melbourne.
The remaining Group event of the day was the Angst Stakes (G3, 1600m) won by the Chris Waller-trained I Am Serious.
The Choisir mare appeared well placed on Saturday after placing to the classy import Avilius in her two prior starts. Dropping back from 2000m to a testing Randwick Mile was perfect as was returning to her own sex.
I Am Serious was backed like it was a case of the planet’s aligning and performed accordingly, running to a Timeform rating of 106. To highlight how well Chris Waller had placed the mare on Saturday, I Am Serious actually ran a figure below what she’d been producing behind Avilius.
Outside of stakes level, Yulong January produced a winning display which indicates he is well above average when taking out a Benchmark 74 3YO Handicap (1400m).
Still green and wayward in the straight, Yulong January was able to lead throughout in the opening event at Randwick. The King Of Prussia colt’s two length win returned a Timeform rating of 102 and will likely have his next start in the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 3.