Might As Well Jump

Jumps racing is flying in Victoria, there is no doubt about it. At the Warrnambool carnival on Grand Annual day there were only 7 protestors, down from a few hundred in the years before. The humble author of this very article had Gai Waterhouse in the car with him and drove straight past these protestors and there was no incident at all. Perhaps the turn-around is due to the quality of the horses that are now jumping. No longer are jumps horses just the slowest percentage of horses in Australia; we now have many really good and talented flat horses heading to the jumps and not just as an afterthought when they are eight or nine years old.

Wells (Galileo x Embraceable You) is one of the most exciting jumps prospect in Australia after some recent great success. Wells is only a five-year-old and was originally purchased by Lloyd Williams as a Melbourne Cup prospect but was then sold to champion jumping family the Durdens. This gelding has recently beaten Black and Bent and will be the favourite in the up-coming Australian Hurdle at Sandown.

Toulouse Lautrec (Danewin x Dancing Colour) has not run for a while now, but there was a time where this grey gelding was the best jumper in work. Toulouse Lautrec is a winner of the Group One Queensland Derby and he was not at 100/1 and got lucky on a heavy track; no he was the $5 favourite. The striking grey gelding is listed on the honour board at Eagle Farm as a winner of the 2400m classic. His name is on the same board as the likes of Tulloch and Kingston Town as a QLD Derby winner. His best jumps performance was a 20 length win at Moonee Valley which occurred in the middle of four jumps wins, that were won by an average of 11.5 lengths.

Macedonian (Zabeel x Society Walk) trained by Peter Moody will take on Wells in Australian hurdle after running third in one of the hottest fields in a jumps race in recent memory at Warrnambool two weeks ago. Macedonian was well performed on the flat having won a Sandown Cup beating Mourayan and he is placed in many other distance classics. This geldings has had just three starts over the jumps for two wins and a third to Wells. In his first two wins he won by a combined 27 lengths. He is classy, fit and talented and will be a factor over the jumps for many years to come.

Westsouthwest (Darci Brahma x Southern Sunset) has had one race over the jumps for a 4.5 length win. This gelding ran third in the 2012 Queensland Derby to the promising Brambles from the Peter Moody yard and subsequent Eagle Farm Cup winner (beating Manighar) Quintessential. Westsouthwest has just started his career but the field he beat at his first jumps start was top class. Look out for him in the coming weeks.

Cat Fun and Stand To Gain are Group One winners that are enjoying success over the jumps. Cats Fun recently won the time honoured Brierly Steeplechase at Warrnambool but in a previous life, the jumper won the then Group One Perth Cup in a fairy tale finish with Damien Oliver aboard. Stand To Gain won a Sydney Cup on perhaps the heaviest track ever raced on at headquarters. In the process he beat a great field many of which have since won Group and listed races. Stand To Gain has had one recent start over the jumps for 6 length win (at $26!) and again the future looks very bright for the gelding.

So jumps racing is alive and well. Peter Moody, Chris Waller and Gai Waterhouse all have some form of connection to the sport which is really rejuvenating the industry. Be sure to tune in to the Australian Hurdle on August 28. Imagine if All Too Hard, Black Caviar, More Joyous and Pierro all had of met in a set weights and penalties race over 1400m during the autumn. Well that is what this Australian steeplechase will be like. The clear four best hurdlers in the nation are all set to run; Wells will be favourite at probably $3.50. Macedonian will be at $5 while the immortal Black and Bent will have plenty of support at $5.50. The Darren Weir trained Gotta Take Care will most likely be second favourite at around $4.00. It will be a race for the ages.

By Zeb Armstrong


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