The Autumn Sun gains fifth Group 1 in last-gasp Rosehill Guineas win
If Chris Waller was hoping to settle his nerves a little less than half an hour before saddling Winx, then he chose the wrong colt in The Autumn Sun to do so.
Australia’s most valuable three-year-old in training, The Autumn Sun was sent-off a red-hot favourite to continue his winning streak in the Rosehill Guineas. He emerged unscathed and secured victory number eight – his fifth at Group 1 level – but he had to master a determined Arrogant following a sustained dual, and even then the margin was only a neck.
The pair pulled two lengths clear of Chapada in third, completing a two-three for trainer Michael Moroney, whose positive pre-race bulletin was entirely vindicated with a brace of high-class performances, while New Zealand Derby fifth Surely Sacred ran a gallant race in fourth as the field came home at wide intervals in what proved a searching staying test in trying ground.
Despite The Autumn Sun gaining a reputation as a heart-stopper – his last-gasp Randwick Guineas success paying testament to that – he continues race-by-race to deliver the goods. And it is surely the sign of a class-laden colt that he is able to win in unsuitable circumstances, bolstering a career record that contains only one blemish from nine outings – a fourth-start defeat in the Stan Fox Stakes at this course in September.
Waller cut a relieved figure in the post-race debrief, paying testament to both The Autumn Sun and co-owner John Messara, the Arrowfield Stud principal who sold the colt for $700,000 at the Inglis Sydney Easter Yearling Sale in 2017, but made a major investment into the son of Redoute’s Choice following his Golden Rose Stakes win in the spring.
He was tough enough. The Autumn Sun wins his 5th Group 1. What did you make of the Rosehill Guineas? pic.twitter.com/IiavVQZz8i— Racing.com (@Racing) March 23, 2019
"Mr Messara is a good sportsman and that is why he is here running," Waller told Sky Racing following the first of five top-tier contests on the card.
"There was some concern during the week if he should be running on a heavy track, because he’s still a horse who isn’t fully mature.
"It was through his sportsmanship that they brought him here and he’s a very good horse. That was a good test – the last 200 metres – and the inside horse was laying all over him, but he didn’t lie down and he’s a really good horse."
Waller also paid compliment to the constitution and attitude of The Autumn Sun, a colt with ‘so much speed’ having made a successful debut over 1200 metres at Rosehill in April.
"I could see as soon as they went 400 metres it was going to be a really tough staying test and just look at the margins at which the runners have come home – it was pretty close between the winner and the second, but in behind there were some really tired horses," Waller continued.
"For a horse who has shown so much speed – he almost ran the track record at Randwick first time out over 1,200 metres – we were really testing him today over 2,000 metres and he’s done it."
Ridden by James McDonald, New Zealand Derby winner Crown Prosecutor played a significant role in creating that test, stringing out the 12-strong field – which had been reduced by one following the defection of Madison County – down the back straight.
The Autumn Sun adopted a midfield pitch having broken nicely under Kerrin McEvoy and he made his move three-deep passing through the 400-metre marker, nosing his way to the front at the 300 and looking like he would quicken away with authority.
Arrogant was gallant but The Autumn Sun remains the #1 colt of his generation. He is now a five-time Group 1 winner, what a horse... pic.twitter.com/EFUnRxjowb— Racing.com (@Racing) March 23, 2019
However, Arrogant lived up to his name and proved a determined opponent under Craig Williams, jostling all the way to the line and only succumbing in the closing stages.
Speculating on future targets for The Autumn Sun has proved a popular game amongst the media merry-go-round as the colt’s profile has continued to swell, and while international targets remain a possibility – he was this week handed nominations in the Champions Mile and the QEII Cup at Sha Tin on April 28 – Messara continues to cut a level-headed figure when looking ahead.
"He knows how to win, but I don’t think he enjoyed it," Messara told Sky Racing. "He got away with it, but good horses can do that.
"It’s a pity it wasn’t a good track because that would have told us a lot more about the horse, but on a wet track and the first time over 2,000 metres it was a big ask and he came through it.
"Race-day decisions are not good decisions. I’m going to cool down and have another few looks at that race, but I know he didn’t enjoy it – he made a long, sustained run and he was labouring at the end. But he got there – and that was pure guts."
Read The Briefing from 8.30am daily on racingpost.com and the Racing Post mobile app with all the day's latest going, weather, market moves and non-runner news