Kerrin McEvoy knew in a couple of strides that he was on the Golden Rose winner at Rosehill on Saturday, and the most exciting part of The Autumn Sun for the champion jockey is what lies ahead.
The Autumn Sun become first dual group 1 winning Redoute’s Choice colt in Australia with a scintillating sprint to run Zousain in the shadows of the post over the 1400m.
“To be doing that to a very good group of colts at what I consider his minimum distance is amazing,” McEvoy said. “Wait until he gets to a mile and 2000m – he is going to get much better.”
McEvoy had copped an earful from trainer Chris Waller after he got held up on Youngstar in the Shannon Stakes earlier in the day and took no risks on The Autumn Sun.
“I was bit worried when I got to the outside at 350m. I was still last then, but in 10 strides I knew he was the winner,” McEvoy said.
At 200m I could see it was Zousain and I knew I would get
him. He has just so much power.
“He’s got a great attitude and a great temperament, and I’m thrilled to be on his back.”
The Autumn Sun has won four from five starts, including a JJ Atkins in Brisbane, where he also ran down Zousain. The way he extended when put under pressure by McEvoy was the perfect mix of rhythm and power. His relaxed nature and acceleration through his gears indicates that a mile and beyond will be no problem.
The Autumn Sun is already the best colt of his generation. The Caulfield Guineas might on the horizon, but his owner, Hermitage Thoroughbreds, want a Derby above all else.
That will not come until the autumn in Sydney, but by then he could be the best son of Redoute’s Choice and too valuable to continue racing.
“He is a Derby horse, and the owners are hellbent on winning a Derby, so that obviously comes first and foremost,” trainer Chris Waller said. “His value, however, has fortunately skyrocketed again today. He’ll have a price tag now and maybe he can tick the box of winning a Derby as well.
“I’ll be pushing not to rush him to the spring Derby, because it’s so quick. It’s a long way for a young horse. So we’ll see who gets a good say, the owner or the trainer.”
Oliver Koolman, who manages Hermitage interests, paid $700,000 for The Autumn Sun from the Arrowfield draft at the 2017 Easter sale, which also had Golden Slipper winner Estijaab in it.
“I think I could have been very wrong to think he was a 2000m horse. I still believe it – he’s out of a Galileo mare, and Guy Mulcaster selected him at the Inglis Easter Sale,” Koolman said. “We were very bullish on him. He was early in the sale, so it was a hell of a commitment. The short list was pretty bloody short: it was one.
“We wanted horses that were going to get over a bit of ground. We didn’t have a budget. It was just to get the right animal.
“We always want a Derby horse but, after a win like that, we might have to have a rethink.”
The Autumn Sun ($4.40) ran down Zousain ($8), who James McDonald thought was the winner at 100m mark, and won by a short neck, but it was a comfortable win in the end, with three-quarters of a length back to favourite Graff ($2.90 fav).
McDonald had ridden a great race from the barrier but was left in front at the 300m and gave a good kick. It was then that The Autumn Sun and Graf made their runs together down the centre of the track. By the 100m mark, the winner had the measure of the favourite.
“I thought he was home, I couldn’t here anything coming but then . . . then The bloody Autum Sun came and got me,” McDonald said.
Jason Collett said Graf probably didn’t see out the 1400m after getting back in the field and not settling.
“He raced really keen. When he quickened he was good, but it was a bit short-lived,” Collett said.
Waller will sit down and plot a course with his three-year-olds later in the week, with The Autumn Sun and Zousain likely to head in different directions.
“The Coolmore Stud Stakes looks the perfect race for Zousain, and The Autumn Sun needs to step up in trip,” Waller said.
“He is a superstar, as is the runner-up. I think he will be at least a couple of lengths better at the mile.
“I thought the stablemate [Zousain] was home. He looked every bit of his dad, Zoustar, surging to the front in the same race, but I think he might have been beaten by a pretty special one.” – Chris Roots, Sydney Morning Herald