The J.J. Atkins Stakes (Formally The TJ Smith)

This is one of the best two-year-old races for the year. It is near the end of the season so the two-year-olds are more developed and it is at a mile so it is not just a jump and sprint affair. All-time champions Luskin Star and Mahogany have won this race in the past and last year the winner was Sizzling who will be hard to beat in the Stradbroke. This year’s edition has a proven horse in Zoustar pitted against the fast improving Romantic Touch from the Waterhouse yard. There are several other chances, but these two will no doubt start as the first and second favourites.

Chosen Idol is currently $61 but the colt just might be a bit over the odds. Three starts ago this son of Academy Idol was third behind Zoustar and a smart Waterhouse runner Divine Choice over 1300m at Hawkesbury. He was running on well on that occasion but was clearly no match for the first two. Next he was beaten a length by Sir Moment at Doomben. Chosen Idol on this occasion was the $3.20 second favourite but could not get the job done. Next it was Eagle Farm on a wet track and he was again beaten by Sir Moment; Sir Moment is $7 in this race and Chosen Idol is $61. It seems a big gap, especially as both are untried over the mile.

Sir Moment for all the above reasons. It is impossible to recommend Chosen Idol and not included Sir Moment.

Zoustar is unbeaten; he is very consistent and always runs well and gives his backers a sight. He has stepped up in distance at each start he has had won pretty comfortably at each start. Zoustar won the Sires’ in fantastic fashion and the Sires’ is the traditional lead up for this race; the Sires’ winner usually runs very well in the TJ (now the J.J. Atkins).

Romantic Touch. What can we say about this gelding? He is related to Desert War, he is owned by Gooree who owned Desert War, he is trained by Desert War’s trainer and at his last start he won like Desert War. Gai has been talking about this horse for a good ten months and at his last start over 1550m, he won by 8 lengths. 1550m is pretty close to the mile and on that run at Canterbury he will bolt in. Romantic Touch was beaten by Zoustar three starts ago but it was over the unsuitable 1200m. At his next start, a 1400m race, Romantic Touch won on class then at his next start he recorded the 8 length win.

Verdict: An 8 length win again any opposition is a super performance and needs to be taken notice of. When was the last time a horse won by 8 at a Sydney Metropolitan meeting before Romantic Touch?

4th. Chosen Idol. $61 represents exceptional value especially since this colt looks as if he will be ideally suited at the mile. $61 indicates we can have our standard $1 each way and make a good profit should he win.

3rd. No surprises with our top three; they are the three favourites. Sir Moment has been beating Chosen Idol so he gets the nod for third.

2nd. Zoustar. Consistent and unbeaten. He can lead, he can run on he has a champion jockey on and lives at a champion trainers stables. There is no cross against him and he is an impeccably bred colt which means the connections are desperate to win a Group One race with him as to increase his stud value. He would probably be $1.70 except that there is a potential freak in the race. If you like him he will give you a great sight, it is just the fact of whether or not he can get past Romantic Touch.

1st. Romantic Touch. A gelding so he will not be assured off to the breeding barn anytime soon. Most horses that race on Sydney metropolitan tracks are well bred. There are very few bush stallions still around like in the days of Bernborough. To win a race against your fellow two-year-olds without weight relief after being a $4 second favourite by 8 lengths indicates there is something special here. The Desert War connection also needs to be acknowledged; in his prime Desert War was impossible to get past. This horse is being trained the same way and if he is even 70% as good, well he might be very hard to get past here.

By Zeb Armstrong


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