Junoob produced a tough staying performance to score his maiden win at Group 1 level in the 2014 The Metropolitan at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Blake Shinn and Chris Waller had already had plenty of success at Royal Randwick today, with Waller winning the Epsom Handicap with He’s Your Man and Shinn taking out the Flight Stakes on First Seal, and the pair joined forces to record another win at the highest level of racing.
Junoob was settled in an ideal position by Shinn in the early stages of The Metropolitan, but he was placed under pressure when Josh Parr picked up the pace on Travolta at the 1000 metre mark and Shinn was forced to towards the lead coming around the turn.
The Haafhd gelding hit the front at the 400 metre mark and looked like a sitting duck, but he was able to fight on bravely to record a narrow win in The Metropolitan from stablemate Opinion and the fast-finishing Araldo.
Shinn admitted that he got to the front far too early on Junoob, but he paid credit to the toughness and determination of the gelding, who he has now steered to three wins at Group level.
“He did dig deep and it was a very courageous win,” Shinn said.
“I got to the front too early and he was there to be beaten, but he just dug deep and it was a tremendous victory from a really tough honest horse.
“He is a big striding horse and he doesn’t really quicken off the mark, you have to build him into his work and I did that today.
“Full marks to the horse, he was very brave for me today and he deserved a Group 1, he has been knocking on the door.”
Trainer Chris Waller was confident that Junoob was the best of his five chances in The Metropolitan and he was delighted with the position that Shinn had the six-year-old in towards the early stages of the race.
“It was an interesting race and that is why these staying races are so great to watch,” Waller said.
“The pace was on, the pressure was on early and all the horses got into good spot really and Junoob was getting the run of the race, but he got going early and to take Blake’s credit he knew what he had to do and it was a great ride.
“We don’t really get a chance to see where they are at when you are stepping them up in distances, but all he could do was win last start and when the draw came out I knew that he would get a nice run.”
The win was Waller’s second in The Metropolitan after he took out the 2011 edition of the race with The Verminator.
Tye Angland on Opinion lodged a protest against Junoob for alleged interference at the 600 metre mark, but the protest was quickly dismissed.