It’s a tale with a Classic twist. Eagle Way soared above his rivals to win the 2016 edition of the Group One Queensland Derby in a barnstorming finish on Saturday and will now seek to replicate that victory in Hong Kong’s counterpart next March.
This has been some turnaround. It was only eight months ago that Eagle Way had finished unplaced in a Wyong Maiden (at his third start) and jockey Tommy Berry had rung the owner – legendary Hong Kong trainer, John Moore – to tell him that, basically, the horse wasn’t much chop.
However, instead of getting the chop, Moore sent the horse north to Queensland trainer, Bryan Guy, and the change of scenery has worked wonders.
Eagle Way didn’t win his maiden until December, but once he had found the key, he peeled off three straight at the Sunshine Coast and Doomben and, then, after a let up, ran second on the Gold Coast.
Eagle Way could only manage a midfield finish in the Gunsynd Classic – his first tilt at black type – but then ran a promising fourth in the Rough Habit and was only beaten a neck in the Grand Prix leading into the Derby.
The Queensland Derby was Eagle Way’s last start in Australia and while his name goes up there on the honour board along with those of Strawberry Road and Kingston Town, he will become unique among them if a Hong Kong Derby heads his way.
Peter O’Brien remembers Eagle Way well, selling the then colt at the 2014 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale as part of the Segenhoe Stud draft: “he was a lovely, big scopey type of horse and quite a good mover, but quite unfurnished. I think if the sale had been just a couple of months later he would have made quite a bit more than the $200,000 George Moore paid for him.
“There was definitely a lot of overseas interest in the horse, but George won out in the end.
“I think he’ll go very well up in Hong Kong … he’s just the kind of horse that will improve as he gets older.”
Talking of older, Eagle Way becomes the 19th individual Group One winner and 159th stakes winner overall for More Than Ready, with O’Brien emphasising that age is not wearying the Vinery-based stallion.
“It kind of makes a fallacy of that theory about older sires and dams not being able to produce good horses,” O’Brien muses. “Both More Than Ready and (Eagle Way’s dam) Wedgetail Eagle were 15 years old by the time Eagle Way arrived and they’re still going strong.
“More Than Ready is just a great sire and Wedgetail Eagle has been a super producer: she’s had nine winners from 10 to race and Eagle Way is her fourth stakes winner, along with Assertive Eagle, Impressive Eagle and Soaressa (dam of Melbourne Group winner Thermal Current).
“It was also a terrific result for Segenhoe – that was the first year that we had sold at Easter since the farm’s purchase by the Maloney family and we’d taken just seven yearlings to Sydney. Aside from Eagle Way, we also sold Serene Majesty (Group Three Thoroughbred Club Stakes and recent $400,000 Scone Inglis Guineas winner) from that draft.”
By comparison, Segenhoe sold 13 yearlings at the 2016 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, including $2.3 million for the half brother to superstar Winx.
Article: Aushorse.com.au - 13 June 2016