Waterhouse has an Easter to remember

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 12:00am

There's no doubt about the biggest story from the Easter weekend of racing in Sydney: the incredible Group One treble by the all-conquering Gai Waterhouse.

The first lady of Sydney racing won New South Wales' second-richest race, the A$2.5 million Group One San Miguel Doncaster Handicap, for the sixth time with exciting four-year-old Grand Armee.

She also won the Group One Galaxy with Snowland, a three-year-old son of the ever-popular Snippets. Snowland's win was a huge result for Widden Stud, who bought a major share in the speedster a few months ago to secure him as a future stallion.

Waterhouse then came out yesterday and completed her Group One treble with Hasna, also by Snippets, in the AJC Sires' Produce Stakes - not bad for someone who has only been training for 10 years.

Former Hong Kong-based trainer Patrick Biancone has emerged with a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday week. Brancusi, a son of Deputy Commander, did a mighty piece of work at Keeneland (Lexington, Kentucky) on Sunday, going five furlongs in 59 seconds flat. It was the colt's first serious workout since finishing second to Peace Rules in the Grade One Blue Grass Stakes - a significant Kentucky Derby lead-up - at Keeneland on April 12.

Biancone had his Hong Kong licence suspended in September 1999 when three of his runners tested positive for prohibited substances.

Biancone then went to America, originally as an adviser to Stranach Stables in California. He regained his licence to train after the Florida Racing and Wagering Board decided that the prohibited substances were 'only class three drugs' in America and they waived the Hong Kong suspension.

Sydneysider Danny Beasley has been given more than a passing mention as a potential Hong Kong jockey, so winning the two richest races in New South Wales over the past 10 days cannot have done his cause any harm.

Beasley is unique among Australian riders because of his distinctly European riding style. As a youngster, he lived on a diet of video tapes of racing in England and France and became a huge fan of Frankie Dettori, Olivier Peslier, Mick Kinane and Cash Asmussen.

As he matured and strengthened, the list of trainers wanting to utilise his non-punishing style grew. He is now one of the most in-demand jockeys in Sydney.

Beasley won the A$3 million Tooheys Golden Slipper on Polar Success for Graeme Rogerson last week and on Saturday landed the Doncaster Handicap (1,600m) for Gai Waterhouse on Grand Armee.

Beasley said on Sunday he had two dream goals - riding in Hong Kong and eventually in Europe. At least one of those goals may be close to realisation.

Christophe Soumillon made a huge impression during his off-season riding stint in Hong Kong and he's wasted no time cementing his position as the retained rider for the Aga Khan since his return to Europe.

On Sunday at Longchamp, Soumillon piloted the progressive Darshaan colt Dalakhani as he extended his unbeaten record to four races in the Prix Greffulhe.

Stipendiary stewards in Singapore found some surprising culprits at the end of a protracted investigation into the reason why eight horses had been doped during a four-month period ending on February 3.

The eight swabs were all positive for 3-Hydroxy-N-Methylmorphinan, a morphine metabolite, but they came from five different yards including those of leading expatriates Laurie Laxon, Patrick Shaw and John Meagher, as well as local licensees Boyle Chua and Douglas Dragon.

Police and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) officers were called in and focus quickly shifted away from the trainers onto the syces (mafoos) at the various stables.

A Laxon employee, Suhaimi bin Samsuri, gave evidence that he'd bought tablets in bulk, relatively cheaply, from the neighbouring Indonesian island of Batam. Some of the tablets had then been onsold to other syce and track riders without their retaining trainers having any idea of the conspiracy.

The performance-enhancing drugs had been administered to horses after their routine pre-race blood tests, and entirely for the benefit of the conspirators' own betting.

All the trainers were ultimately found to have adequate security and were held blameless. Bin Samsuri was disqualified for 12 months while two track riders - Rahman bin Matsune and Magendran al Ganeson - have been barred from entering the premises of the Singapore Turf Club.