Hall of Fame trainer Chris Waller probably felt compelled to defend Blondeau after his return to winning form at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Blondeau had been beaten as favourite at his three previous starts but a tactically perfect Tommy Berry ride resulted in a convincing win in the Bowermans Furniture Handicap (1400m).
Waller maintains Blondeau has the ability to train on and win a good race next season.
“He’s a decent horse, I honestly do have a good opinion of him,’’ Waller said.
“It was a great ride by Tommy Berry as he saved ground then Blondeau shouldered his way out and showed that good acceleration we know he’s got.
“When he is fully matured as a four-year-old, I believe he can win a good race.’’
Blondeau takes out the second leg of the qauddie for @cwallerracing & @TommyBerry21 👏 pic.twitter.com/e96WyJLLoi
Given the blustery conditions, Berry knew it was imperative to find cover on Blondeau ($3.40) early in the race.
Berry took full advantage of Blondeau’s inside draw and settled third on the fence before gaining a split in the straight where the gelding did the rest, bursting through to win by 1¼ lengths from Itz Lily ($9) with early leader Surf Dancer ($6) doing well to claim third, nearly two lengths further back.
Oscar Zulu, a stablemate of Blondeau, was sent out the $2.90 favourite for his attempt to be the only horse to win five Sydney races this season but looked to have every chance before fading to finish sixth.
“I think Oscar Zulu could have come to the end of it (preparation),’’ Waller said.
“It might have been silly coming back to 1400m with him, too.’’
Blondeau has shown glimpses of his ability during his race career but has been unfairly maligned, according to Berry.
“People have him down as one of those horses that isn’t genuine but it’s not that, he just has a furlong (200m) sprint on him, Berry said.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Winx or a Chautauqua that can do it (sustain a long sprint) from the half-mile.
“For most horses, 200 to 300m is their dash but Blondeau is deadset 200m max.
“He’s not going to win every time because of his racing style and how he needs races to pan out for him but when he gets it going in his favour, he is always going to be very hard to beat.”
Tommy Berry was confident Blondeau would win. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Blondeau, who is part-owned by Peter and Patty Tighe of Winx fame, improved his record to four wins from 17 starts and more than $320,000 prizemoney but Berry agrees with Waller that the gelding’s best is still ahead of him.
“He’s a better horse this preparation and we saw that first-up when he showed brilliant acceleration to win at Gosford,” Berry said.
“His last two runs, he just hasn’t had that set-up. He’s been made to chase before the corner. When he has to do that he bottoms out in the straight.
“But today, drawing well and having one last crack at them was perfect timing for him. I really thought he was my best ride today just off the set-up that we were going to get.”
Waller said he may consider giving Blondeau another start before the end of the season but he does have more ambitious plans for the sprinter next season.
“With our prizemoney increasing all the time, there are some very good options for many horses,’’ Waller said.
“Who knows, Blondeau might end up a Golden Eagle horse but if he doesn’t measure up there, then we could look at The Hunter and The Gong, then there is also the Magic Millions Carnival in January.’’
Blondeau was the third leg of a four-win haul for Waller, complementing the wins of stablemates Fastconi, Criminal Code and Vitesse.
Waller has trained 159 city winners this season and will claim his 11th successive Sydney trainers premiership at the end of this month.
Itz Lily had been freshened since competing in the Brisbane winter carnival and the mare ran on very well to beat all but Blondeau.
Surf Dancer, a Listed stakes winner in England, was making his Australian debut for the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott stable and ran an encouraging race, leading for home before holding on for the minor placing.
At The Track with Matt Jones
SYDNEY ENVY OF WORLD
The announcement of the $2m Invitational by Racing NSW on Friday attracted the usual criticism from Victoria as Peter V’landys continues to stack Sydney’s spring carnival with mega-rich races.
Albury trainer Mitchell Beer probably summed it up best.
“Could you imagine the rest of the world looking at Australian racing Twitter today complaining about another $2m race being announced.
“Anyone can win it, anyone with a good enough horse is eligible. It’s not for the elite, it’s for anyone.”
REGAN LUCKY TO STAY IN SADDLE
Strong winds were not only deciding the fate of some horses at Randwick but making things hard for the jockeys.
“I was on Navy Cross out in front and I nearly got blown off the horse,” Regan Bayliss said.
The weather was no more forgiving at Goulburn and stewards allowed Koby Jennings and Christian Reith to ride half a kilogram over so they could wear thermals under their silks.
It was about 5C but the wind chill made it feel much colder.
BAKER’S PUBLIC PLEA FOR JAB
Bjorn Baker, Sydney’s most in-form trainer, called on the public to get the vaccine to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Baker, like most Sydney trainers, is in the thick of it at Warwick Farm and, considering the number of positive cases in the local government area, it is threatening racing in the short term.
“C’mon NSW, let’s get this done,’’ Baker said.
“If you’re eligible, please book.
“As a former pharmacist, I have no qualms with the jab. Let’s keep the racing industry and the entire state safe.”
Bjorn Baker at Randwick. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
THANKS, JEAN, SAYS AVDULLA
Brenton Avdulla thanked apprentice Jean Van Overmeire in the stewards’ room after he helped him avoid a tight moment as he pushed through to win on Fastconi.
“I think Jean has done a very good job looking after me,” Avdulla said.
“I would agree with that,” chief steward Marc Van Gestel replied.
ANETHOLE DIDN’T HELP HIMSELF
There was a lot of social media talk about how luckless Anethole was in the Highway when third, after not getting a clear run in the straight.
But the horse didn’t help himself either.
“He wasn’t travelling,’’ apprentice Tom Sherry said.
“He wasn’t going well enough to hold his spot. I was chasing him to gain a couple of positions and he wasn’t responding.
“It was a chequered path. I was on the back of Tommy Berry and I was trying to get him rolling along. I never felt I was going to catch the horse in front of me.”
Originally published asWaller’s belief in Blondeau gets rewarded
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