With Group One goals in both Sydney and Melbourne looming large on his horizon, New Zealand three-year-old Sharp ‘N’ Smart kicked off his Australian spring campaign with a tenacious victory in the Gr. 3 Gloaming Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
The son of Redwood had shown his class on both sides of the Tasman as a two-year-old, winning the Listed Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Pukekohe before finishing second in the Listed The Phoenix (1500m) and a luckless fourth in the Gr.1 JJ Atkins (1600m) from two appearances in Brisbane.
Sharp ‘N’ Smart warmed up for his second shot at Australian racing with a victory at Ruakaka on September 10, but his gap between runs grew to 32 days when the mid-afternoon abandonment at Randwick last Saturday forced the A$500,000 Gloaming to be rescheduled to Wednesday.
That lack of recent racing looked like it might take a toll when Sharp ‘N’ Smart loomed into contention at the home turn but was quickly tackled and headed by Matcha Latte.
That rival looked to be going the better of the two for much of the home straight, but Sharp ‘N’ Smart dug deep and clawed his way back into the contest.
Williamsburg chimed in with a strong finish out wide, but in a thrilling three-way finish, it was Sharp ‘N’ Smart who held out both rivals by a nose.
“He’s a class horse,” jockey Hugh Bowman said. “The blinkers have certainly made the difference. I rode him in Brisbane in the winter, and he gave me an exceptional feel. It’s no surprise to see him come here and do that.
“Personally I think there is more improvement to come, and I’ll stick with him.”
Trained by Graeme and Debbie Rogerson for an ownership group that includes breeder Gerry Harvey, Sharp ‘N’ Smart has now had six starts for three wins, two second placings and more than $460,000 in stakes.
The Rogersons were represented on course on Wednesday by Shannon Doyle, who was delighted with Sharp ‘N’ Smart’s performance.
“He just looked like he hit a flat spot, but he fought back and it was a really tough win,” he said. “He obviously knows where the line is. It was a really gutsy effort and a good ride by Hugh.
“The horse has a really laid-back personality about him. The further he goes, the better he’s going to get. He is going to be a nice stayer in the making, without a doubt. Bring on the Spring Champion (Gr.1, 2000m), and then we’ll hopefully press on to the Victoria Derby (Gr.1, 2500m).”
The Spring Champion Stakes will be run at Randwick on October 22, followed by the Derby at Flemington a week later.
Sharp ‘N’ Smart was a $55,000 purchase from Westbury Stud’s draft in Book 2 of Karaka 2021, then was passed in at the Ready to Run Sale later that year. – NZ Racing Desk