In a strategic front running move, jockey Hugh Bowman drove Farnan quickly from the gates to the lead, the pair boldly maintaining their control of the world's richest race for two-year-olds and duly won the $3.5 million Longines Golden Slipper Stakes-G1 at Rosehill on Saturday.
Normally run in front of about 20,000 people, the Golden Slipper was conducted with empty grandstands, I like numerous other racing fans - having to settle for watching the spectacle from the lounge, due to the spreading coronavirus.
Becoming the seventh winner of the race for Gai Waterhouse, however this year sharing honours with training partner Adrian Bott, Farnan defeated the Magic Millions Two-Year-Old Classic winning filly Away Game (by Snitzel), and second starter Mamaragan (Wandjina) for the minors.
Bred by Phoenix Thoroughbreds, Queensland, Farnan was a Magic Millions Yearling Sale graduate via Vinery Stud, being knocked down for $550,000 to Phoenix Thoroughbreds (II) and Aquis, the latter being the future destination for the Not A Single Doubt colt when he finishes racing.
A three-quarter-brother to dual Sydney stakes winner Sandbar, Farnan is set to take the mantel from Not A Single Doubt, the Redoute's Choice stallion who recently retired from stud duties due to a respiratory complaint at Arrowfield Stud.
Arrowfield Stud bound glamour colt, Castelvecchio returned to the winners' stall, impressively taking the $600,000 Sky Racing Rosehill Guineas-G1, while another Arrowfield Redoute's Choice sire Snitzel, was successfully represented when his daughter, I Am Excited, won the City Tattersalls Club Galaxy. The five-year-old becomes the first Group 1 winner for Warwick Farm conditioner David Pfieffer.
Racing responds to COVID-19
Health is the mainstay in these uncertain times surrounding COVID-19, so much so that to assist jockeys in maintaining good health Racing NSW (RNSW) has raised minimum weights by 1 kilogram.
All country and provincial races now have a minimum of 55kg (excluding any listed races), and metropolitan races to 54kg, with some variances possible for Saturday and black type races.
RNSW stated that given the higher weights being carried in handicap races, there is no increase to the top weights proposed, minimising the impact on higher weighted horses.
Last week saw RNSW put a blanket ban on spectators at all future race meetings, barrier trials and people visiting licensed training stables until further notice, in an attempt to curb virus outbreaks.
While many country meetings have been abandoned, RNSW has added two new picnic programs, firstly at Wagga Wagga on March 28 and at Forbes on April 18.
Hay delivery welcomed
A good news story emerged last week when 1000 hay bales arrived in Wauchope as part of the Australian Turf Club (ATC) funded bushfire and drought assistance to racehorse trainers and farmers.
The funds were raised from the Racing For The Bushfire campaign and a special race meeting at Randwick held on January 25 and is now being distributed via the ATC Foundation.
It provides hay for horses, livestock, and animals, as well as funding for fencing and buildings in local communities.
"There is $25,000 worth of hay - lucerne and oaten hay which is about 1000 bales here, plus there will be $15,000 for Blaze-Aid for fencing etc, and $20,000 to animal rescue organisation 'Fawna' and its carers," said Steve McMahon, public officer of the ATC Foundation.
"A total of more than $150,000 has so far been raised".
Secretary of the Wauchope Jockey Club, Debbie Prosser was on hand to help with the hay allocation.
"Faye O'Neill (vice president) and I went through all the bushfire victims around here and worked out who was the hardest hit; the ones that had fences destroyed and horses almost burnt, and we are giving them the most (hay); they are not over it yet - like most of us," Debbie said.
The recipients were hugely grateful.
"We are just thankful for the support that the ATC and RNSW have given us; we hit the drought, then we hit the fires, and now heaps of rain," Tuncurry trainer Terry Evans said.
"Expenses have just gone through the roof, so the hay is very welcome."