‘That was cruel’: Kiwis spoil Pierata’s fairytale finish
Opie Bosson finished the Sydney autumn carnival as the leading Group 1 jockey after helping Tofane to deny Pierata a farewell major at Royal Randwick.
Pierata extended an extraordinary equine family curse when he was run down by Tofane after a stirring straight-long duel to win a memorable $480,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m).
Bosson, New Zealand's champion jockey, has had to base himself in Sydney away from his young family for over a month due to international travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus outbreak but the sacrifice has been worth it with Tofane his fourth Group 1 winner.
In fact, Bosson is having a stellar season after winning on Melody Belle in the Empire Rose Stakes at Flemington last spring to complement another six New Zealand Group 1 winners.
"The draw helped Tofane today, she got into a beautiful spot and followed the horse to beat,'' Bosson said. "It was a real dog fight down the straight. I wasn't sure if I won or not, I didn't find out until I saw the screen when I got back."
Bosson will return home to New Zealand on Tuesday but hinted Sydney punters may not have seen the last of the jockey this season.
"Not much is happening back home at the moment, so it's good to be here and good to get a few results,'' Bosson said. "I go back on Tuesday and then we have to have a bit of a discussion to see whether we move the family back to Australia or not, I've got a few things to sort out first."
Tofane ($12) , who is part-owned by AFL greats, Collingwood's Wayne Richardson and North Melbourne's Kerry Good, gave Bosson his 76th Group 1 winner of his career when he stalked Pierata ($5.50) through the race and ambushed him late, scoring by a nose with Fasika ($12) more than two lengths away third.
Pierata won the All Aged Stakes last year and made a brave bid to retire with a Group 1 win.
Wow! Did I hear that right? @opie_bosson moving the family to Aussie?! I guess with stake money so poor in NZ and him getting some gun rides in big races in Aussie and riding as good as ever, why not. Huge year for Opie. Congrats brother. 💪🏻— Brendon McCullum (@Bazmccullum) April 18, 2020
Perhaps racing history suggested this was always going to be the result, as Greg Kolivos, owner of Pierro, alerted me via text late Saturday that he is the fourth generation stallion to retire with a Group 1 second placing at Randwick.
Octagonal began the sequence when he ran second in his farewell race, the 1997 Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The "Big O's" son, Lonhro, also ran second in the same race at his final start in 2003.
Pierro, who is by Lonhro, ran second in the 2013 Doncaster Mile, and he has sired Pierata, the runner-up on Saturday.
Greg Hickman, trainer of Pierata, was naturally disappointed his stable star couldn't retire with another Group 1 win.
"That was cruel, just cruel,'' Hickman said.
"I thought he had it but he found a horse a nose better than him on the day. He has been just a great horse to us and he has gone out running one of his best races.
"I can go to bed tonight knowing he was at his best, I just wished he had won.''
But as Pierata retires to Aquis Stud, Moroney is already thinking of aiming Tofane at the $15 million The TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on October 17.
Moroney, who trained his 51st Group 1 winner with Tofane and his second All Aged Stakes success after Tivaci's triumph in 2017, said he was not surprised by Saturday's result.
"We decided after her spring campaign that we would only target Group 1 races this autumn,'' Moroney said. "I told her owners she would get beaten in a few but I know she will win one.
"Her form had been great. I thought she should have run second in the Newmarket then she ran really well for third in The Galaxy, beaten a nose and a nose.
"Her effort to then run fifth in the TJ Smith Stakes was super because she was luckless from a wide barrier. This is a great result and we will put her away now and set her for The Everest in the spring.''
Moroney and Bosson have been dominant figures in New Zealand racing for nearly three decades but surprisingly Tofane was the first time they have combined for a big race success.
"Opie has ridden on and off for me over the years back in New Zealand and even when we (stable) was winning premierships we didn't have a lot of luck together,'' Moroney said.
"He does most of his riding for Te Akau Racing and we know he is a world-class jockey but this is our first Group 1 win together."
Originally published as 'That was cruel': Kiwis spoil Pierata's fairytale finish