Earthquake - Blue Diamond Stakes (Group 1) / SMH (p)
BLUE DIAMOND STAKES (Group 1)
Caulfield, Turf, 1200m
22 February 2014
A veil of doubt was cast over G1 Blue Diamond Stakes favorite Earthquake (Aus) (Exceed and Excel) when she drew a hard luck gate 15 of 16 for Melbourne’s juvenile showpiece. No favorite drawn outside gate 10 had prevailed in the A$1-million contest for the past 20 years, including Earthquake’s fellow Sheikh Mohammed homebred stablemate and subsequent four-time Group 1 winner Guelph (Aus) (Exceed and Excel) 12 months ago.
The hulking bay filly silenced the her doubters a few sweeping strides down the Caulfield stretch Saturday, storming to the lead at the 200 meter mark and winning by 1 1/2 lengths in hand under jockey Damien Browne.
It was the likely last Blue Diamond victory for the formidable team of Sheikh Mohammed and trainer Peter Snowden, following on the heels of Champion 2-year-old Sepoy (Aus) (Elusive Quality) in 2011. Snowden will at the end of April hand over the reins of the Darley stable to trainer John O’Shea, when he and son Paul launch their new public training operation.
Snowden revealed after the race that Earthquake would likely attempt to emulate Sepoy by taking in the 5 April A$4 million G1 Golden Slipper, the world’s richest juvenile race.
“I was a bit concerned when she wobbled around the turn, but then she pricked her ears and I thought ‘oh God, here she comes’,” Snowden told Racing and Sports. “There’s still six weeks to go until the Golden Slipper and she’s only had three runs. There’s still some more in her. To me, it’s all there in front of her. She might not be the equal of Sepoy yet, but she is doing things that he did.”
Extracts from Thoroughbred Daily News