A stirring battle for nearly 300m between Shumookh with Tim Clark and Champagne Cuddles with James McDonald was decided by a nose to the former at the line in the $400,000, Group 2 JHB Syndications Golden Pendant (1400m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Shumookh, with 54kg, and Clark had led for early sectionals through to the top of the main straight with stablemate Prompt Response (58kg) and Damien Oliver tracking and Champagne Cuddles, with 55kg, and McDonald on third on the rails.
Prompt Response started to feel the pressure in her first race of this campaign and McDonald smoothly slid Champagne Cuddles into the space on the outside of Shumookh.
They then engaged in a stirring battle with neither mare prepared to give a stride to the other. Champagne Cuddles did get her head in front, but then Shumookh came back. The was a pause after the line was reached as the crowd checked the in-field broadcast screen and the photo finish, then the judge swiftly gave the nose margin to Shumookh.
Princess Posh (Canford Cliffs) (55kg) and Brenton Avdulla were third, the margin a long neck. The time was 1.23.09 on the Good 4 track with the final 600m in 34.04.
Shumookh paid $6.00 on fixed odds and $5.20 on the tote. The $5.00 favourite Invincibella was fourth after coming late.
It was a black type double for the Waterhouse and Bott stable after winning the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) with Thinkin’ Big.
Shumookh and Tim Clark (inside) keep out Champagne Cuddles and James McDonald, picture Stevehart.com.au
“I just loved the way she came again - as they used to say about dad’s horses, bone and muscle," said Waterhouse.
“She was terrific. That is what you look for, you look for those horses that can dig deep. She has been an honest filly and she just shows she has made the quantum leap.
“I was standing in the crowd with the people and I thought ‘oh dash, we’ve been knocked out on the post’. And then when I watched the slow motion I thought ‘no, we’ve got it, we’ve got it’.
“She will have a great spring because this is really a Group 1 field. It really is. It is a very (high) quality race,” she said.
“The second filly loomed up to me and got at least a lip if not a head in front but to Shumookh’s credit she fought hard but the last three strides Champagne Cuddles came at me again and I wasn’t quite sure. But she really deserved another win this filly,” said Clark
“The form behind her is unbelievable - D’Argento, Alizee, Shoals. She ran against the best three-year-old's last season and really deserved the win today.
“She is lightly raced, obviously very well bred. She is going to be very good to Emirates Park with a Group 2 next to her name. They have won some big races, these colours here, and I amd sure they are happy to get a Group 2 next to her names as well.”
Shumookh, a four-year-old mare by Dram Ahead out of the Secret Savings mare Shamekha, is a home bred for Emirates Park Stud. Trained by the Waterhouse and Bott stable she has a line of four previous black type races with two seconds, including in the Group 1 Surround Stakes in March, and a third.
Saturday’s win was deserved after the earlier races in top company and she now has the record of two wins and four placings for stakes of $384,495.
Golden Pendant, photo finish picture ATC
What the beaten jockeys said:
Damien Oliver (Prompt Response): “She went okay. I think she will definitely improve from the run. A lot of the mares around her had already had the one run back. She’ll definitely take benefit from it.”
Andrew Adkins (Daysee Doom): “She was disappointing. It will be interesting to see how she pulls up.”
Christian Reith (Dixie Blossoms): “She wasn’t at her best today. She will bounce back from it.”
Hugh Bowman (Invincibella): “Unlucky.”
James McDonald (Champagne Cuddles): “She went good. We were just beaten by a better horse.”
Kerrin McEvoy (Eckstein): “It was an even run. She got into the race but didn’t have the turn of foot to contend with the first three.”
Brenton Avdulla (Princess Posh): “She ran out of her skin and tried hard. They didn’t go overly quick so it was always going to be hard to make ground. She is Group 2 placed now so she has done a good job.”
Jay Ford (Magic Alibi): “She went as well as she could. The tempo just wasn’t there for her to get over the top.”
Jason Collett (Insensata): “She had a quick dash at the top of the straight but it came to an end about 100m out.”