Gai Waterhouse already holds the record for the number of The Metropolitan winners but rarely has the Hall of Fame trainer gone into the Group 1 with as strong a hand as she holds this year.
Not only do Waterhouse and her training partner Adrian Bott have all-in even money favourite, Just Fine, their support cast in the $750,000 2400-metre event comprises two Group 1 winners and a last-start country cup winner.
Just Fine, a six-year-old son of Sea The Stars, has been a revelation since arriving at Tulloch Lodge from Sir Michael Stoute in the UK, making it back-to-back wins to start his Australian career with an easy victory in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) on September 16.
“He’s going from strength to strength, he’s a very talented stayer, both his wins have been eye-catching and he’s ticked over beautifully this week in his work,” Waterhouse said.
“He’s a rising star and he’s lightly weighted and you can’t beat those lightweight stayers, can you?
“He’s got a lovely turn of foot and he’s a really exciting horse. I can understand why they’ve got him favourite and he should be.”
Just Fine will carry just 50kg, at the other end of the scale to stablemate and Sydney Cup-winning topweight Knights Order, who has 57.5kg.
Waterhouse and Bott also have last-start Newcastle Cup winner Military Mission in with 51.5kg, while Major Beel gets to 2400m for the first time since winning the Group 1 ATC Australian Derby in April this year.
Major Beel has had three runs since a break after that win, the best of them a second placing in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) two starts ago, and Waterhouse is adamant he will love the step up in trip.
“This will suit him because he gets to a distance needs to get to, that’s what held him back so far,” Waterhouse said.
The Metropolitan was the first Group 1 win for Waterhouse, thanks to Te Akau Nick in 1992, while she won five of the seven between 1995 and 2001; Electronic (1995), Hula Flight (1996), In Joyment (1998), Coco Cobanna (2000) and Dress Circle (2001).
Waterhouse has also won with Herculian Prince (2010) and Glencadam Gold (2012).
– RAS NewsWire