Not quite the same expectation as two more sleeps till Christmas.
But something filled with just as much excitement.
Two more steps, two more starts till greatness.
So You Think sits on the verge of greatness. Perhaps he has already acquired the position and respect of being one of the best racehorses to ever grace an Australian racetrack. But his position cemented, with little cause for a differing opinion, if he should win his next two starts this Melbourne Spring. His next test, in the Cox Plate, is considered his for the taking. The final piece of the jigsaw will come in the 150th running of the Melbourne Cup.
The rise to the racing pantheon began for So You Think when he validated his earlier promising performances with a scintillating - though then unexpected victory - in the Cox Plate of 2009. At this time he was still - by nature of being a November foal - a 2 year old with only 5 race starts of experience.
Every week I send a ‘speed review’, a revisit and review of the week’s racing, to clients of Speedratings. This is part of what I wrote that weekend:
I always check par values (again) when confronted by a performance far above the usual. So You Think has produced one of the biggest speed performances that I can remember - second only to the champion Might And Power.
So - on checking for any reasons why the par value could now possibly be wrong - I went back over the speed performances for MV over 2040 metres in the past 3 years. The bulk of the performances range from 100 to 170. The peaks have been few: Whobegotyou 268. Maldivian 261. Cefalu 204. El Segundo 202. All is in balance. The performance by So You Think has been phenomenal.
I have been anticipating for awhile something spectacular from So You Think. I was enthused about him in the Guineas and he ran extremely well. Against his own age - over a trip - he goes in as most preferred. But as a 3 year old - having his 5th race start against a field of multiple Group One winners - I didn’t expect it to be yesterday that he would announce that he has arrived. The brilliance of Bart. Counter intuitive. Creative. Innovative (as fellow trainer Mark Kavanagh quipped: most people at his age won’t even buy green bananas, but he buys yearlings!).
Seeing So You Think lead I thought that a win would be unlikely. Never before has he shown early speed and it seemed too ‘speculative’ to succeed. The riding genius of Glen Boss - he must surely see in ‘fly time’ with everything around him seemingly in slow motion and he having ample opportunity to plan and react at leisure. To lead all the way on an immature horses who previously displayed a come-from-behind racing pattern was exceptionally bold.
The Cox Plate of 2009 is more a story of the winner, rather than the race. No hard luck stories. Whobegotyou pulled up sore - but could not have won. Heart Of Dreams I had imagined this year testing All Silent in mile races. He will be next year. War horses Zipping and El Segundo were brave in defeat. And Manhattan Rain surprised with an equally bold - but 2.5 length inferior performance to So You Think. There is no question mark after the three words: So You Think - but rather, an exclamation mark!
And this from the Final Day of the Flemington carnival:
I am always glad to see the end of this week. The most recent day of racing is clearest in memory - and what a performance by So You Think! Two consecutive performances above 300. Never achieved previously - and always considered unlikely given tempo changes in mile & middle distance races. I’m not completely forgetting All American, but I just wonder how often he will produce a performance of this standard. Naturally this is his benchmark, but I’m not sure about consistency.
I did not believe So You Think would lead. Sir Slick being scratched didn't help - but also King Mufhasa was ridden off the speed as well. Neither did Bart believe that So You Think would lead (this time giving instructions NOT to lead). A combination of Bart managing to freshen him up too well - and his coltishness (although that aspect is very safe from change). Carved out ridiculous (arrogant) sectionals. And what about Gold Salute?! If not for another bungled start he may have won.
All Silent is just that good. No horse can produce the same withering burst as he can (just pondering now a mile race between So You Think and All Silent....). I knew if kept to sprinting he would be the superior sprinting horse this Spring - and the straight track 1200 makes that achievable whereas a turn and clutter might not.
A much discussed aborted Autumn campaign would see So You Think missing from action until his reappearance this Spring, accompanied by the explanation of a wind operation that hampered and hindered him when he had tried to return in the Autumn.
This Spring So You Think has toyed with the best opposition on offer, each time proving dominant, and each win being more impressive than the last.
So impressive has So You Think been that bookmakers now have him quoted at a prohibitive $1.65 to win his second consecutive Cox Plate at Moonee Valley. And being under the care of master trainer of Melbourne Cup winners, Bart Cummings, it is expected that a Cox Plate win will see him contest the Melbourne Cup - taking the same path as Bart did with his champion Saintly in 1996.
Currently So You Think is ranked only equal 21st best horse in the world by the IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities) - and So You Think has actually slipped from 20th in September to his current October ranking.
It is difficult for Australian racehorses to achieve stellar rankings through IFHA with races such as the English Triple Crown; US Triple Crown; the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe; and The Breeders’ Cup Classic, all dominating the mindset of the judging panel. But if So You Think does complete the season undefeated - with a second Cox Plate and the 150th Melbourne Cup to his credit - then anything other than a top 10 position would be a travesty. Actually, on his performances and speedfigures, I rate him the equal to any horse on the current list - only if compared to previous top ranked thoroughbreds such as Sea The Stars and Curlin would I be more circumspect in comparison. If So You Think is not ranked (well inside!) the top 10 thoroughbreds at year’s end it might be time for a petition.
Thankfully So You Think was allowed to race on as a four year old entire and was not shuffled off to stud prematurely. This extremely impressive looking son of High Chaparral is worth a fortune as a stallion already - but I would personally find the lure of a final European campaign in 2011 irresistible. Who knows - maybe if competing on the wider, world stage So You Think might find his way inside the top 10 thoroughbreds in the world. I think he deserves to be there already.