New Zealand-bred star Militarize came from nowhere to snatch an extraordinary last-gasp triumph in Saturday’s A$1 million Gr.1 Kia Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill.
It was the third Group One victory for the super-talented Dundeel colt, who soared to prominence in the autumn with outstanding back-to-back successes in the Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) and Champagne Stakes (1600m). But what he did on Saturday was even better.
A late-finishing fifth in his resuming run in the Gr.2 Run To The Rose (1200m) two weeks ago, Militarize relished the step up to 1400m on Saturday and used up every single one of those extra 200m.
Settling well back in the field for visiting Brazilian jockey Joao Moreira, Militarize had only three horses behind him as he came around the home corner. He started to quicken, but came up behind a wall of horses and had nowhere to go.
Moreira managed to weave his way through and find a pathway to clear air wider out on the track, and then he asked Militarize to take care of the rest. The colt took a few strides to balance up and build his momentum, and he still sat in eighth place with only 150m remaining.
At that stage all eyes were on Encap, who had just shaken off Butch Cassidy to take command, while Godolphin’s exciting colt Cylinder was moving up alongside him with powerful strides.
But suddenly Militarize swept past them with a scintillating late burst, thrusting his head in front right on the finish line to score a short-head victory that had to be seen to be believed.
The Golden Rose continued a remarkable partnership for Militarize and Moreira. The star jockey also rode in Sydney during the autumn carnival and was in the saddle for the Sires’ Produce Stakes and Champagne Stakes.
“This horse has been very special to me and has a place in my heart, for sure,” Moreira said. “We didn’t have much luck today. Even at the start, I had horses around me squeezing and pushing me one position further back than I was hoping to be.
“From then on, I just had to pray for luck, and that luck never came until very late in the race. Right up until the last furlong, I was trapped in a box and had no way through.
“Even when we found a way out, he wasn’t really giving me the feeling that he was going to explode. But then, coming into the last 150 metres, he just accelerated like a champ. It was such a nice ride that this horse gave me.”
Now the winner of four of his seven starts, Militarize has banked more than A$1.7 million in stakes for a syndicate headed by Newgate Bloodstock and the China Horse Club. He is now a $3.50 favourite for the Gr.1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) in Melbourne on October 14.
Militarize became the third Golden Rose winner for champion expat New Zealand trainer Chris Waller, who had previously won it with Zoustar (2013) and The Autumn Sun (2018).
“Zoustar and The Autumn Sun were both great colts who are doing the job at stud now too, and I think he deserves to sit alongside them,” Waller said.
“He had a nice draw today and was given a nice, confident ride by Joao. There was a bit of traffic in front of us around the 300m, but Joao cleverly weaved a path through. The horse needed to be digging deep in that last 100m, and he really did that.
“Joao has an amazing record on this horse, and that’s why he was keen to come back again today.
“This horse has been the ultimate professional. He won two Group Ones as a two-year-old, so he’s obviously very good and the world is his oyster. I would say the Guineas would be his next target.
“The beauty of young horses is that they’re still telling us a lot of things, we’re learning about them every week. I’m confident that a mile will be no problem for him.”
Militarize was bred by Jonathan Munz’s GSA Bloodstock Limited and is out of the British-bred mare Amerindia, who foaled Militarize at Haunui Farm in New Zealand after being sent across the Tasman to be served by Waikato Stud stallion Super Seth in the 2020 breeding season.