After a year in Australia, Naval Warfare has found his feet and produced an easy victory in the New Year’s Day Cup at Randwick on Tuesday, a result which could set the tone for a big 2019.
Trainer Chris Waller lets his imports develop at their own rate and in their own time. Naval Warfare took until just before Christmas to find the winner’s circle but just 10 days later he went on a 6¼-length romp from Earth Angel, with Destiny’s Kiss another four lengths away.
“He is a horse that was gelded after running in the Brisbane Cup in the winter and he is a real stayer,” Waller said. “This is his second preparation, and once these horses get a win they can make big improvements.
“He can go to the Australia Day Cup next, but there might be a bigger race for him in time.”
All five jockeys from the race ended up in the stewards room after interference on the first turn and in the straight, where Destiny’s Kiss was checked at the 300m mark, for which Earth Angel’s jockey Rachel King was given a three-meeting ban.
The incident didn’t help Corey Brown on Naval Warfare, but he got him into a good rhythm before charging away in the straight.
“He might be a real nice horse. The way he extended in the straight was very impressive,” Brown said. “He is a very strong stayer.”
Naval Warfare was one of four winners for Waller at Randwick on Tuesday. The trainer also led Gayatri, Bring The Magic and Seles into the winner’s stall on the first day of the year.
“A day like this is a reward for my team and the efforts they have put in over Christmas,” Waller said. “You can’t do that without good staff, and it is a tough time of year with a lot racing and celebrating.”
Meanwhile, Racing NSW stewards have moved Saturday’s Warwick Farm meeting to the Kensington track at Randwick to gain some relief from the expected heat.
Chief steward Marc Van Gestel said the decision was taken with horse and jockey welfare in mind as well as all participants.
“The forecast is for 39 with little or no breeze out at Warwick Farm, while back towards the coast it will be cooler,” Van Gestel said.
“We wanted to be proactive and take the decision before acceptances. We want a safe working enviroment for everyone, and horse welfare is very important in that sort of heat.
“The forecast is for a strong breeze at Randwick, which will have a significant cooling effect, but we will still have our protocols in effect.”
The same meeting last year was shifted due to hot weather.
“It is something we are reviewing and will probably look to change the date to another track next year,” Australian Turf Club general manager James Heddo said.
“We want to support Warwick Farm but this time of year is probably not the right time for them out there.”
The change in track means two 1200m will be reduced to 1150m, while the 1600m races will drop back to 1550m.
Several Warwick Farm trainers were frustrated about the move as they had targeted the meeting on their home track. They pointed out that they would lose all the advantages they had for the meeting and would now have to travel with their horses in the heat for more than an hour. – Chris Roots, Sydney Morning Herald