Sheikh Mohammed is on course to eclipse all-comers as Australia’s 2YO Group 1 calendar winds down at the Brisbane winter carnival.
Elusive Quality champion Sepoy (Blue Diamond & Golden Slipper) and Exceed And Excel colt Helmet (ATC Sires’ Produce & Champagne Stakes) have dominated the juvenile division in 2010-11.
The BRC T J Smith Stakes on June 11 is the final Group 1 of the season and Darley will be double-handed with last-start winners by Lonhro and Ad Valorem.
Benfica (2c Lonhro – Hut by Danehill) powered home to win the LR Hampden Stakes on May 14 and Free Wheeling entered calculations with a promising victory in the G2 Champagne Classic at Doomben on Saturday.
Free Wheeling (2c Ad Valorem – Miss Carefree by Last Tycoon) had shapely nicely behind Manawanui at his first run back from a spell at Canterbury a fortnight ago. Sent to Brisbane, he overcame a tardy start to tip out Dr Ichi (Dr Green) and Hot Snitzel (Snitzel) in a three-way photo-finish.
Trainer Peter Snowden would not be drawn into which youngster was his better hope in the $505,000 T J Smith. “There’s not much between them,” he said. “Free Wheeling has untapped ability and he got them in two strides today.”
Free Wheeling’s sire Ad Valorem (Danzig) was a G1 winner of the Middle Park Stakes at two and the Queen Anne Stakes (1600m) at four. He originally shuttled between Coolmore in Ireland to Woodlands Stud but that arrangement only had a limited life-span after Bob Ingham sold out to Sheikh Mohammed.
Ad Valorem (USA) stood at Darley’s Kelvinside base last year and didn’t return to Ireland for the 2011 northern season.
Ad Valorem’s first crop leader among his five Australian winners so far this season is Uate. The Newcastle based colt won the G3 Skyline Stakes at Warwick Farm and followed up with a half-length second to Helmet in the G1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes.
Free Wheeling’s dam Miss Carefree won races at Cranbourne and Kyneton. Second dam Lady Of Renown (Lord Seymour) was a Listed winner of the SAJC Morphettville Guineas and third dam Toltrice (Matrice) put John Hakes on the map with G1 victories in the VRC Oaks and VATC One Thousand Guineas.
Darley sold Miss Carefree to Brackley Park owner Damian White for $9,500 in March 2009. She was covered by Real Saga last year.