Japanese galloper Real Impact overcame a gallant Criterion to make his Australian racing debut with a victory in the 2015 George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Jockey James McDonald elected to press forward on Real Impact in the early stages of the George Ryder Stakes and the veteran entire was settled just outside the leader Cosmic Endeavour in the early stages of the race, while Criterion received a lovely run in transit just behind the leading duo.
Cosmic Endeavour was beaten quickly when challenged by Real Impact in the straight and the son of Deep Impact and Criterion cleared out from the rest of the field to fight out the finish.
Criterion looked as though he got his nose in front of Real Impact in the final 100 metres, but Real Impact was able to fight back late to score his first win at Group 1 level since he took out The Yasuda Kinen (1600m) in Tokyo in 2011.
McDonald was booked to ride Real Impact in the George Ryder Stakes and Doncaster Mile several months ago and the in-form hoop, who took out the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) with Contributer earlier in the day, was glowing in praise for the tough effort of the seven-year-old.
“An awesome horse,” McDonald said
“He began really well and they said he can be a bit ‘iffy’ but he got into a lovely rhythm.
“I set him alight about 600 from home and he stayed on, the big fella!
“He (Criterion) fought really hard but my horse found another gear once that horse got to him.
“I don’t think he’s going to win a big race by a big margin, so I’m glad my head was down when the winning post came up.”
Chris Waller-trained Kermadec was given the chance to take on older horses for the first time in his racing career and he stormed home late to finish third after missing the start by several lengths, while Hooked produced a typically game effort to finish fourth.
Real Impact is set to press on to the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 4 and has been allocated 55 kilograms by Racing New South Wales handicappers , while Criterion will step-up to 2000 metres for the first time this preparation in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at the same venue a week later.