Chris Roots - SMH
Punters will be talking about the three-year-old beaten favourites from Rosehill on Saturday, but that would underplay the awesome return of Lean Mean Machine in the Run To The Rose.
Runner-up Graff was favourite for the group 2 Run To The Rose and remains so for the group 1 Golden Rose after a torrid, wide run throughout, while The Autumn Sun lost his unbeaten record but no admirers in his checked passage for third in the group 2 Stan Fox Stakes.
But underestimate Lean Mean Machine at your peril after he sizzled home in the Run To The Rose. The Zoustar colt, which started at $14 and landed some nice bets, cut through the centre of the field to win with something in hand from Graff ($3), while leader Jonker ($13) held on for third.
Tye Angland declared to trainer Chris Waller a month ago that he didn’t want to be on any other horse in the Golden Rose, and his faith
was vindicated in grand fashion. He gave up six lengths start at the 300m mark and didn’t use the whip to hit the front in the last 50m.
Angland was pulling Lean Mean Machine up on the line and won by three-quarters of length.
“That was dominant,” Angland said. “The best thing about him is his attitude. Nothing fazes him.
“He improved the way I thought he would and there is more there yet.
“I didn’t do any work from the gate. It really got sticky on the point of the corner – I was going that good I was nearly running up their backsides and I had get him out.
“I didn’t expect him to pick up that many lengths the way he did under just hands and heels. He’s a serious race horse.”
Waller was measured in his praise of the winner, with an eye to stablemates Zousain and Performer, which struggled on the wet track.
“He’s obviously a very good horse and, as we saw with his dad Zoustar, he came back as a three-year-old and went to a whole new level, and it looks like this boy has done the same,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be too disappointed with any of the horses beaten today. You can see some horses handle it, some don’t.”
“Don’t lose faith in the beaten brigade. We certainly won’t be ,and I’d say in two weeks time it will be one hell of a race in the Golden Rose.”
Lean Mean Machine is in from $26 to $7 for the Golden Rose but Graff remains the Beteasy favourite at $5 after his tough effort.
“The draw was the difference there. He has a draw, he gets a softer run, but unfortunately the cards were dealt when it came out,” Collett said.
Trainer Kris Lees added: “If he had been vulnerable late and ran fourth or fifth I would have been disappointed. But he was wide and got beaten by a fresh horse coming up the fence. I’m looking forward to two weeks time.”
James McDonald said Zousain was “hopeless in the shifty ground”, as did Hugh Bowman on Performer, which made up the Waller team.
But the best chance from the Waller yard in the Golden Rose might be JJ Atkins winner The Autumn Sun, which was checked in the straight in the Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) and still kept coming to run third to Takra.
“The run was neat but when I aimed up to go between them he just sort of shirked the task,” Kerrin McEvoy said, summing up a check at the 300m mark. “Picked himself off the canvas and got going, which is some attribute on ground like that.”
The Waller-trained colt is still a $7 chance for the Golden Rose, and the trainer was very happy with him.
“He was very unlucky. It won’t detract from where we are heading,” Waller said. “He showed would have won the race if things went his way.
"It makes the race very interesting."