Lightly-raced gelding Almalad has given trainer Gai Waterhouse her second straight victory in the J.J. Atkins at Eagle Farm this afternoon.
Almalad did plenty wrong throughout the race and pre-race favourite Brazen Beau looked as though he had the race won when he was asked for an extra effort in the final stages of the race, but Almalad was able to fight home bravely to score his third win from as many race starts.
Jockey Tommy Berry admitted after the race that he had not given Almalad the best ride, but said that he was simply delighted to record another Group 1 victory for the Waterhouse team.
“I probably didn’t give him the best of rides,” Berry said.
“We came out of the gates quite well and he showed good pace early and I probably should have just sat there in the front because as I was grabbing him he wanted to get off the track a bit, but he was just a class above these.
“When Nash came up to me on Brazen Beau I hadn’t moved on my bloke and when I gave my bloke a little bit more he took up the reigns.
“Mark Newnham and I have had a wrap on this bloke for a while and it is great to get another Group 1 for Gai, I can’t thank her enough for bringing me back.”
Waterhouse stable foreman Mark Newnham said that it took Almalad a while to settle in the early stages of the J.J. Atkins and was admitted that he was worried when the son of Al Maher wobbled coming around the turn, but was thrilled with the fight showed by the two-year-old when he was challenged by Brazen Beau in the final 150 metres.
“He was naturally going to go forward early and Gai was just happy for Tom to put him forward and let him get comfortable,” Newnham said.
“It took him a while to get comfortable and he didn’t make the corner that well, but the result worked out.
“He has been quiet similar in his work; he doesn’t expose himself too much, but when you really put the acid to him he will respond and that is what we got today.
“Gai is one that can do it consistently and some of the things that she does with horses amaze me and this one was no different today.”
The Waterhouse stable have now scored three wins from six races at Eagle Farm this afternoon and the leading Sydney trainer was celebrating her second win in the Group 1 event after taking out last year’s race with Romantic Touch.