What A Winter (SAF) - Diadem Stakes (WFA) (Grade 2)

(Photos : Gold Circle)


Kenilworth, Turf, 1600m

12 January 2012

michael clower
michael clower

Michael ClowerMike Bass is determined to take on Horse of the Year Variety Club in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate on Saturday week after What A Winter blitzed the opposition in the Diadem Stakes for the second successive year at Kenilworth on Saturday.

“Now he is back to his brilliant best” said Bass, referring to his last few starts where he had been affected by an infection which he took a long time to recover from. “He is also still a colt so he is challenging, and at times a frustrating horse to train especially him as I know how good he is and what he is capable of achieving. I have trained a few good sprinters in my time; Sweet Chestnut and TobeorNottobe come to mind, and while both were champions I think he is the best I have trained, he is special and when he is on song I don’t suspect there would be too many sprinters in the world that would keep up with him. I have eyed out the Queen’s Plate for some time now and always thought to myself if I could get him to his very best, his talent would see him through as a miler at the highest level. He settles well in his running and he is bred to go a mile so we will drop him in and be running at them at the finish. It’s certainly worth a crack.”

Bass was thinking of having a crack at last year’s Queen’s Plate too but the horse was drawn wide and he decided not to risk leaving the Betting World Flying Championship behind. There is again a fortnight between the two Grade 1’s. Bass said: “I don’t care if there was only five days. He smashed his field on Saturday, making good horses look ordinary, and he will again smash the opposition in the Cape Flying. There is no reason why he shouldn’t get the mile of the Queen’s Plate. I just need things to go his way. When he ran in the Cape Guineas he was drawn wide and raced wide, and it turned into a disaster. He tried again in the Gold Challenge at Clairwood in June but nothing happened for him.”

But it certainly did happen for him on Saturday when the 9-20 shot swept past the pace-setting Cap Alright nearing the 200m mark and came home nearly three lengths clear without being shown the whip in a time only a fifth of a second outside the course record. Stable companion Castlethorpe (Aus) came from the clouds to take second and is also Queen’s Plate-bound.

Bernard Fayd’Herbe said: “What A Winter is back to his best. I bounced him out and I was quite prepared to go on if I had to. This just shows what he can do when he is at his peak.”

This win took What A Winter’s career record to 11 wins and 5 places from 20 starts with earnings exeeding the R2million mark.

Owners Marsh Shirtliff, Bryn Ressell, Guy Shirtliff and Mike Bass will be sending What A Winter to stud at the end of the season and this impressive performance will certainly have added to his breeder appeal.

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