Waller mare spanks rivals to book ticket for Coast
"IT was exciting, she just won so easily - in a canter.''
They were jockey Kathy O'Hara's first words after Madam Rouge thrashed her rivals in the Listed $150,000 Christmas Classic (1200m) at Royal Randwick.
The race wasn't presented to Madam Rouge, either, as she endured a tough run, three-wide without cover, yet totally outclassed her rivals with a runaway win.
"She won with authority,'' O'Hara said. "We got 'posted' a bit, she had no luck from the barrier but she let down with real gusto at the top of the straight.
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"I didn't really ask that much of her but she topped the rise and really let go.
"I haven't had a win that easily in a long time.''
Madam Rouge ($5), ridden hands and heels by O'Hara, made a mess of her rivals to score by 1¼ lengths. Glenall ($7) was held up for a few strides at the top of the straight before working home strongly for second, a long neck in front of Albumin ($17).
Trainer Chris Waller confirmed Madam Rouge and Invincibella, who ran on from last on the turn to finish an eye-catching sixth, will meet again in the $1 million Magic Millions Fillies and Mares (1300m) on the Gold Coast in a fortnight.
"It was a good ride by Kathy,'' Waller said.
"I told her if you get caught three-wide from the awkward barrier, 'don't panic, just sit nice and tight'.
"She had Madam Rouge travelling nicely which was the key.''
Waller said Madam Rouge has gone to a new level this season, winning the Group 3 The Nivison and finishing a good fourth in the Silver Eagle in the spring.
"If you go back through her form this preparation, she has been a different horse,'' Waller said.
"Even last start in the Hot Danish Stakes, she was desperately unlucky.
"I think there is a good race in her and she will go to the Magic Millions in two weeks.
"She will get her chance in the autumn as well.''
Invincibella has won the past two Magic Millions Fillies and Mares and showed she is on track for a hat-trick.
"She is ready to go,'' Waller said.
Signore Fox was sent out $2.80 favourite yesterday but failed to produce his customary finishing sprint and ran fifth. Jockey Tommy Berry said Signore Fox raced a bit flat. "He's had a long 'prep' and his run the other day was obviously very strong and that might have taken a bit more out of him than we thought,'' Berry said.
Trainer Paul Snowden had a similar explanation for Signore Fox's effort.
"He raced a bit tired today,'' Snowden said.
"His preparation's been … not a disaster but things have gone wrong.
"He's had five trials and had four starts and the trip to Queensland in the middle - you wouldn't say it's gone smoothly.
"So, I think today he moved up nice but he didn't have the good turn of foot that he had two weeks ago. I think he's maybe looking for a little bit of a break.''
FAVOURITE BACKERS KICKING STONES AFTER NITROUS UPSET
Nitrous caused an upset as favoured stablemate Bartley endured a luckless run in the juvenile opener.
The four-horse field for the Hyland Boxing Day Sale Handicap (1000m) provided a dramatic, action-packed race and a result that left favourite backers deflated.
As jockey Hugh Bowman searched for a run in the straight on the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Bartley, a tactically-astute Tommy Berry swooped on Nitrous to score narrowly.
"Nitrous did everything right, it was another professional effort,'' Paul Snowden said.
"With Bartley, it was one of those things. He was held up quite badly in a four-horse field but Nitrous was a little too good today.''
Racing NSW stewards questioned Bowman about his riding tactics with the Hall of Fame jockey conceding he was surprised the race tempo was not more genuine early.
"When Nash (Rawiller on Belieber) peeled back, it really snookered me,'' Bowman said. "I never really had room. If Bartley was more experienced, he would have made his own luck.
"Once he hesitated and I had to correct him, the race got away from us. He was just new, he didn't know what to do. With experience, you would have seen this horse dart straight through that gap.
"Even as I was getting my momentum, Tommy has shaved Nash slightly and that closed the door on me.''
Bartley has run out of chances to secure a start in the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) on January 11 but Nitrous confirmed his place in the field for the glamour Gold Coast race with his good win.
Nitrous ($6.50) was the outsider of the four runners but finished powerfully to win by a short neck from Miss Canada ($4) who made a brave bid to lead throughout on debut. Bartley ($1.95) was three-quarters of a length away third.
Team Snowden already has the Magic Millions favourite ($5) in Aim plus other fancied runners including Stellar Pauline ($13) but Nitrous has earned a start in the big race and has firmed to $26.
"Nitrous will run in the Magic Millions and it is a bit more than a throw at the stumps,'' Paul Snowden said.
"He will definitely weigh in, it will be barrier-dependent on the day.
"But he's a tough customer, he is coping with everything and there is still a fair way to go with this horse.
"As for Bartley, there is no Plan B as he is not going to get in now. We have to weigh up our options but we can look at the Blue Diamond and the Golden Slipper. ''