The new racing season in Australia couldn’t have started on a better note for China Horse Club members with two of its promising three-year-olds hinting at an exciting spring ahead. Regally bred colt Wilderness and quality filly First Seal were in action yesterday and couldn’t have been more impressive in their different events. Wilderness was contesting his first race as a three-year-old while First Seal was having her final barrier trial before making her seasonal race debut.
Wilderness, owned in partnership with Coolmore, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Murray, kicked off his three-year-old career like a progressive individual in the GRC Function & Event Centre Maiden Plate (1100m) at Geelong, Victoria. After jumping well from barrier five he worked across with little difficulty to settle outside the race leader before balancing up in the straight and working clear of his rivals to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths with a further six lengths away to the third runner.
Post-race Wilderness’ co-trainer Tom Dabernig outlined that the athletic colt should improve with today’s win. “He is still a big green [inexperienced] so there is improvement in him,” he said.
“Wilderness is a horse we have always had a good opinion of and obviously we have spring on our doorstep and we will be heading that way with him.”
Fellow CHC Australia runner, First Seal, was only contesting a barrier trial but the manner of her performance left trainer John Thompson eagerly anticipating the months ahead. The well-made filly won her 1050m trial by an effortless two-and-a-half lengths and recorded the fastest time of seven trials over that distance at Randwick (Sydney) yesterday morning.
First Seal has been taken along patiently by Thompson and has always given the impression that she is likely to make considerable natural improvement between her two-year-old season and three-year-old season. From yesterday’s display that appears to be the case.
First Seal was the best to jump out of the barrier stalls and lead the field early before jockey Hugh Bowman let a runner slide around him. The CHC performer settled comfortably in second position until early in the straight when Bowman gave her more rein and allowed her to take the lead. Bowman wanted First Seal to find the line strongly and when asked for an extra effort the filly quickened impressively to work clear and score by almost three lengths.
Wilderness and First Seal are the first runners to be seen in what is shaping as an exciting season ahead in Australia. The duo are expected to provide meaningful support to Group 2 winner Zululand and Group 3 winner Jazz Song who headline a team of unraced or lightly raced two and three-year-olds for CHC and its members.