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Militarize Collars Field Late to Win Golden Rose

Racing can be all about timing. And in brilliant colt Militarize and ‘Magic Man’ rider Joao Moreira, their timing is nothing short of impeccable.

The pair, partnering for the Golden Rose (G1) Sept. 23, Sydney’s pre-eminent spring 3-year-old contest, soared down the Rosehill straight with a searching run, nailing the best of a crop in the clutches of the winning post. They were positioned ninth with just 200 meters left to run.

For the Chris Waller-prepared Militarize, victory in the Golden Rose was a fourth in a seven-start career, with three of those successes now coming at the stallion-making group 1 level. For the globe-trotting Moreira, who was aboard Militarize for his two group 1 wins as a juvenile, the swooping head margin of victory is a trademark product of a lifetime of experience striving for perfection.

For colts group owners Newgate and China Horse Club, for whom it was a second Golden Rose win in three years and for the latter marked a 50th group 1 win worldwide, their elation permeated into anguish for Gary Portelli, whose Encap ran a valiant race in second, while Godolphin had to settle for another elite-level placing for Cylinder, the Golden Slipper (G1) runner-up, who finished a short-neck from the winner in third.

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With scintillating successes in the ATC Sires’ Produce (G1) and ATC Champagne Stakes (G1) as a juvenile, Militarize’s stallion career was already assured, but his return at three to win the Golden Rose pivots the son of Dundeel  into an elite group of two, along with Dundeel’s Arrowfield barnmate The Autumn Sun, to have won the group 1 Rosehill showpiece as well as at the elite-level as a juvenile.

“If he hadn’t done enough already (to make a stallion), he certainly has today,” Waller said.

“It was a classic Golden Rose, a good field. I guess we had a nice, favorable draw, a confident jockey, and I always thought the 1400 meters would be a bit short.

“We chose to put the blinkers on, which I don’t like doing too early in a horse’s career, but it might’ve just got us home.

“Everything worked out well. A bit of traffic in the straight, but he’s an amazing jockey.”

Moreira, who forged his career as a multiple champion jockey in Hong Kong, had mooted retirement plans when relinquishing his license in the jurisdiction last year owing to pain from a hip problem, but demonstrated his unquestioned ability in the saddle with a sumptuous ride in Sydney. But even he was doubting his powers as Militarize fronted up a blockade of horses at the top of the straight.

“To be honest I wasn’t that confident I would be able to win as we approached the last 300 meters,” Moreira said.

“I had a wall of horses right in front of me, I just couldn’t get the split right away. That forced me to be in behind horses, but I found myself behind the right horse that will take me forward (Cylinder).

“The last bit when I was able to get him into the clear he just dashed home like a star. Good horses make jockeys’ lives so much easier.”

For Waller, Militarize’s Golden Rose triumph was the first leg of what he hopes will be a spring of further success for the colt, with the Caulfield Guineas (G1) Oct. 14 appearing to be the next port of call, but the champion trainer would not commit to the Cox Plate (G1) a fortnight later.

“We certainly will be talking about a Guineas for sure; that looks a nice race for him in terms of a traditional set-up,” Waller said. “Dreams happen on a racecourse, that’s for sure. One step, get through today. Second step, Guineas. Third step, get through the Guineas.”

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