Reflections on Apollo Stakes Day

It was a blue day all round at Randwick for the 2020 renewal of the Apollo Stakes on Saturday with first and foremost a mostly blue sky after the course had soaked up some 400mm of rain from Sydney’s summer monsoon and the cancellation of racing last Saturday.

In keeping with the sky the royal blue silks of Godolphin claimed the features of the programme with super mare Alizee in the Group 2 WFA Apollo Stakes (1400m) and the trifecta of three-year-old fillies in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) led by Flit, with both winners under Hugh Bowman.

There is not much that the Sepoy mare Alizee cannot do, a duel Group 1 winner to 1600m and one at 1400m for good measure, multiple Group 2 wins, a Group 1 placing and two fourths at that level including in the VRC Sprint Classic at 1200m.

Second at her last start behind yet another of the excellent three-year-old class, Standout, in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes over 1200m with too much to do to catch the speeding colt, on Saturday Bowman had the mare poised and coiled. 

Dreamforce under Nash Rawiller tried hard to match the mare inside him, but Alizee was all silky smooth and too good. It was not surprising that Bowman clenched his left fist in salute, it was a deserved victory.

Hugh Bowman enjoys the win with Alizee, picture

Alizee is five and she will be the current queen of the stable, but as she looks around at the youngsters coming through she will see Flit, Lyre and Kiamichi ready to take over her mantle at the appropriate time.

What a trio they are too. All by different sires, Flit by Medaglia d’Oro, Lyre by Lonhro and trained by Anthony Cummings and Slipper winner Kiamichi by Sidestep. It is hard to find a better mix for any racing and breeding enterprise.

Flit is a typical type from her sire, scope, strength and a stride that like her older stablemate, has taken her to a Group 1 victory over 1600m in the Thousand Guineas at Caulfield and now a sprint over 1200m on Saturday. Plus it was a comprehensive win over the distance with the margin 1 3/4L to Lyre and 1/2L to Kiamichi.

Lyre did not win in the spring, but she did not need to after her Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes victory and being part of the stable trifecta in the Slipper. However, she will certainly win over the autumn. The Slipper winner perhaps needs to come back in class to claim a win. Slipper wins are extraordinary feats and take their toll on young minds and frames and let us not forget she was third in the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce over 1400m after the Slipper win.

There was a disappointing crowd of around 5,000 to witness a good, if too long at ten races, programme. It is to be hoped that much more is undertaken over the coming weeks to increase that number at the track.

Another winner at Randwick on Saturday was the Course Proper itself. The ATC’s Nevesh Ramdhani and his Randwick track manager Michael Wood have battled extreme conditions through the so called Sydney summer and the past two weeks have been ‘the storm of a generation'.

The rating went from a Heavy 10 at the start of the week through to a Heavy 8 at acceptances to racing on a Soft 7. In past years a deluge like that with racing would have damaged the course for weeks of upcoming racing, but there will not be a moments hesitation that the Course Proper will handle every assignment of the next two months.

On Saturday the winners came across every section of the track and Lyre’s last 600m was clipped at 34.46. Nice going, literally.