Going gets tough for Ho O Amazon, finishes 7th in All Aged Stakes at Randwick
Ho O Amazon couldn’t catch a break in the All Aged Stakes at Royal Randwick as the Yoshito Yahagi-trained horse placed a distant seventh to champion Giga Kick.
Five-year-old Ho O Amazon, under Ryusei Sakai, had a tough time with the poor turf conditions in Sydney during the 1,400-meter contest where he crossed the finish line seven lengths behind the 3-year-old winner ridden by Craig Williams, who took the tape in 1 minute, 24.48 seconds.
Ho O Amazon was the first Japanese-trained horse to compete in the A$ 1.5 million All Aged Stakes since 2014, when Hana’s Goal stormed to victory.
Yahagi admitted to misreading the course conditions at Randwick.
“I thought the conditions today would be just about right for Ho O Amazon but Sakai told me that he’d never seen Ho O Amazon struggle with the turf as he did. It was that bad,” said Yahagi, whose Unicorn Lion came in fifth in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes a week ago, also at Randwick.
“He really struggled with the bad going here in Australia, a lot more than I expected. On the bright side though, I thought he finished the race strong considering the start and the trip he had.
“He’s usually good on poor conditions in Japan so we came here thinking he’d be a good fit on Australian tracks but clearly I was wrong; it’s on me. We’ll try again.”
In his first career overseas start since debuting in June 2020, Ho O Amazon labored out of the gate and was forced to come from behind on the outside as Lost and Running made a run for it.
But Giga Kick overtook him with 250 meters to go. He was in a different gear compared to the rest of the field of 11 and Zaaki, the 8-year-old gelding from Britain, did his best to close the gap but that was about it as Giga Kick would go on to win the maiden Grade 1 title of his sprouting career.
Like Yahagi, Sakai lamented the track conditions as he thought his horse was in good enough form to be competitive.
“Ho O Amazon himself was in very good form but the going was a lot worse than announced,” Sakai said. “He wasn’t responding as always, he couldn’t run his usual race. But considering how he wasn’t responding through and through, he didn’t stop until the finish.
“I like to think we didn’t lose because he wasn’t good enough. We can’t make excuses because we came here knowing what we would be in for. Having said that, it was a far more difficult race than we were expecting.”