Briefs from Randwick: Talking points from the day

Mandy Cottell looks back on Missile Stakes Day at Randwick and brings you the talking points in our end of day wrap.

Chris Waller looks to have a nice three-year-old on his hands in Conqueror. 

He didn't get the win first-up at Randwick, but Conqueror lost no admirers with his barnstorming second to the more seasoned Arnaqueur

The colt won his only start as a two-year-old, beating subsequent Group winners She's Extreme and Seven Veils, and was doing his best work late when he resumed against the older horses in Saturday's Jockey Celebration Handicap (1400m). 

Trainer Chris Waller said the three-year-old still had a lot to learn but was headed in the right direction. 

"He was just a touch slow (to jump), he overdid things in certain parts of the race and he suffered the brunt of some interference in the straight but he finished off really well," Waller said. 

"You will see him in three or four weeks time, and he will be better for the run. It was only his second start, he will measure up." 

Waller is optimistic Conqueror, who holds a nomination for the Caulfield Guineas, can get to stakes level this spring and believes he will be at his best over a mile. 

"It's a long path through the spring but I think he's the right horse to keep improving," he said. 

"He is a lovely big-striding horse so out to a mile in time will be when you start to see the best of him." 


Well behaved Maotai returns a winner 

There were few more nervous people at Randwick than trainer Kacy Fogden as barrier rogue Maotai was loaded for the NSW Jockeys Reunion Handicap (1000m). 

Happily for Fogden, the horse was on his best behaviour and scored an encouraging win at what was his first run as a gelding. 

"If he can stay nice and relaxed like that, he should be in for a good spring," Fogden said. 

Jockey Hugh Bowman was able to settle Maotai off the pace early and harness his speed before the four-year-old surged through a late split to score by a half-length over the fast-finishing Leo. 

Bowman believes the winner has the ability to get back to black-type racing but says he will benefit from a softly, softly approach. 

"I've got no doubt he's up to better class races, he has shown that previously,' Bowman said 

"It will take time though. He needs to continue to develop and I wouldn't be pushing him straight up in grade too quickly. 

"I'd just let him gain some confidence because that's what he lacks, confidence. 

"He suffers a bit of anxiety and I think that's where the problems come." 


Lees luckless in Missile Stakes 

Kris Lees saddled up four runners in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) and was left to rue his luck after three of them finished second, third and fourth. 

The race was won by the Toby and Trent Edmonds-trained outsider Hard Empire, who scored by a half-length over Wandabaa ($26) with Gem Song ($16) third and Enchanted Heart ($21) fourth.  

"And beaten by a 100-1 pop," Lees quipped. 

"But they all ran well." 

Both Wandabaa and Enchanted Heart will be sold online as broodmare prospects in the coming weeks, while Lees will weigh up his options with Gem Song. 

"Gem Song, he's been up for a while so whether we back off and wait for a race like The Hunter, I'll see how he comes through it but he's had a good preparation." 


Quote Of The Day: "He only cost $14,000 and he's earned (nearly) $400,00, so we're not complaining." Trainer David Payne after Bazooka  landed an overdue win in the Midway Handicap. 


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