Rugged Cross is clearly not the most talented horse in the Chris Waller stable, but the leading Sydney trainer could not hide his delight when the imported galloper claimed his maiden black-type victory in the 2015 Winter Stakes at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Jockey Brenton Avdulla settled Rugged Cross in a lovely position in the early stages of the Winter Stakes and he worked into the race nicely, while the well-backed Two Blue took up the running from Haussmann and Liberty’s Choice.
Two Blue responded well when asked for an extra effort by jockey, but Wouldnt It Be Nice loomed as his major danger on the outside before Rugged Cross found something extra in the final 100 metres to steal a very narrow win over Two Blue and Wouldn’t It Be Nice.
Waller admitted after the race that he did not think that Rugged Cross was much of a chance at the 150 metre mark, but he was thrilled to see the Cape Cross gelding pick up strongly to claim his first race win since he beat Ecuador in the TAB Rewards Royal Randwick Handicap (1400m) during the 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
“He’s no superstar, but he’s a very important horse to our stable,” Waller told the media after the race.
“They constantly win prizemoney and when you get good draws and a well-timed run they win.
“If they don’t get all of those things they don’t win, but they run a nice race.
“It’s what winter racing is about as well.
“It’s not just about the carnival horses, but this horse also won a restricted race during the Carnival.
“It not only delivers a thrill by winning on a big day and now he’s won a listed race.
“He’s been a very good horse to us.”
Avdulla also did not expect Rugged Cross to hit the line as strongly as he did in the final stages of the Winter Stakes and he said that the gelding failed something extra when he put away the whip in the final stages of the race.
“At the top of the straight I thought I was going to run a nice race without winning and to his credit he dug in,” Avdulla said.
“I was maneuvering around, but I never lost my momentum.
“I cut the turn and when I asked him for his effort half-way up the straight he went well.”
Rugged Cross has now recorded six wins from 27 race starts and he has now accumulated over $350,000 in prizemoney for connections.