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‘Our strongest representation’: Metropolitan day should be Just Fine for Tulloch Lodge

Tulloch Lodge dominated Sydney’s biggest spring group 1 meeting for more than 50 years only to assume the role of bit player in the era of the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott partnership. That could change at Randwick on Saturday.

It may be a case of back to the future as horses walk up Bowral Street with strong group 1 ambitions in the Metropolitan, Flight Stakes and the Epsom.

Metropolitan favourite Just Fine leads the Tulloch Lodge heading to Randwick on Saturday.

Metropolitan favourite Just Fine leads the Tulloch Lodge heading to Randwick on Saturday.Credit: Getty

Between Tommy Smith and Gai Waterhouse, they have won 15 Metropolitans, 14 Epsoms and 23 Flight Stakes, including two in partnership for Waterhouse with Bott.

But Bott admits he hasn’t been part of an all-out assault like the one planned for Saturday.

“This is our strongest representation on a feature carnival day in the seven years of the partnership,” Bott said.

“But how good it is will be decided at the end of Saturday. They are not easy to win, these races, and that’s why they are so sought after.”

Waterhouse and Bott have had a strong start to the season, leading the Sydney premiership heading into the October long weekend. The quality of that team will be highlighted on Saturday.

Just Fine, unbeaten in two Australian runs, has been posted as a $1.70 favourite, which is even shorter than Saintly was in 1996 when beaten into third. That only adds to the pressure on Bott and jockey Rachel King.

“He is getting a little short in the betting for my liking. You feel the pressure in any race when they get to that price, yet alone a group 1,” Bott said.

King can’t remember being on a horse as short in the betting in any race, but her confidence in him after a couple of powerful front-running wins at 2000m is obvious.

“I don’t think the 2400m will be a problem for him because he feels so strong,” King said. “He is a horse that will relax and run the trip.”

‘This is our strongest representation on a feature carnival day in the seven years of the partnership.’

Trainer Adrian Bott

The step-up to 2400m for Just Fine is the only possible chink in the armour as he was beaten twice over that trip at Royal Ascot before coming to Australia.

But he now seems a different horse here.

“I thought he ran out the 2000 [metres] strongly last time in what was a high-pressure race,” Bott said. “He did it on speed, absorbing pressure, and was still strong enough through the line, so there are plenty of indications, as you can see, at the mile-and-a-half.”

Since Just Fine arrived, he has impressed those at Tulloch Lodge.

“You generally don’t expect this sort of horse to come down and adapt as quickly as what he has,” Bott said. “Obviously, he still had a fair bit of room to move in the ratings when he first came down, and it surprised us a bit to the extent he has progressed.”

Waterhouse and Bott will also run Sydney Cup winner, Knight’s Order, Military Mission and Australian Derby winner Major Beel in the Metrop.

Military Mission was too strong in the Newcastle Cup last start and has also won the Hobart Cup this year.

“He is a strong stayer with no weight and will run a good race as well. We have a good team in the race,” Bott said.


Randwick Guineas winner Converge gets into the Epsom with only 55kg and Bott said he has taken a lot from his first-up fourth in the Theo Marks behind Rediener.

“We probably haven’t seen him under these conditions for a while,” Bott said. “In the Theo Marks, he had a lot weight and it was the run he needed to bring him on for this race.”

Bott is looking forward to getting Tropical Squall to the 1600m in the Flight Stakes after her third to Tiz Invincible and Kimochi in the Tea Rose Stakes.

“It was a bit of a rush to get her to that race because we have had her on an Oaks campaign and were thinking about Melbourne with her,” Bott said. “She will be better suited at the mile because we have always thought that and beyond would be her best trip.”

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