The Autumn Sun returns to scale after his JJ Atkins victory (Trackside Photography)
Since Luskin Star in 1977, only three JJ Atkins Stakes winners – Mahogany (1993), Show A Heart (2000) and Press Statement (2015) – have gone on to capture the Group One Caulfield Guineas in the spring.
Based on Saturday’s effort at Doomben however, the good money is on exciting youngster, The Autumn Sun, becoming number four.
It was some performance from the unbeaten 2YO who raced for the first time on Anzac Day, winning comfortably over 1200m at Randwick.
He moved up to 1400m for his next start on 26 May, again at Randwick, and accomplished that task with flair, but the Atkins was his first tilt at black type – indeed Group One: and despite some pre-race jitters from the punting fraternity (he eased in betting from $2.45 to $4), he again stepped up to the plate.
The winning margin – a neck – doesn’t indicate the true measure of the performance as the colt should only get better with racing and he certainly has the admiration of his trainer, Chris Waller.
Waller was suitably impressed with the victory and enthused: “to see him dig in so deep showed just how smart he is. It’s a Group One race with so much at stake and only certain horses can take that step so quickly and excel”.
It’s also been a remarkable three weeks for Hermitage Thoroughbreds’ Olly Koolman who purchased The Autumn Sun – in tandem with Guy Mulcaster – for $700,000 at the 2017 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.
On 26 May, Koolman flew to Brisbane to watch Youngstar – a filly he bought on behalf of Arthur Inglis at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale – take out the Group One Queensland Oaks, while a week later, he was on the plane again, this time to cheer home Egg Tart in the Group Two PJ O’Shea Stakes at the Sunshine Coast.
A dual Group One winner at three, Egg Tart – like The Autumn Sun – carries the increasingly familiar Hermitage colours of dark green and red chevrons.
Koolman clearly has an eye for both fillies and colts and reckons The Autumn Sun caught his attention early at Easter.
“My father (Anton) was hospitalised at the time and Guy (Mulcaster) and I went in with a plan to buy a Derby winner,” Koolman reveals.
“Guy had him on the shortlist and he was one of the first through the ring on that list (Lot 47) and we bought confidently with him.
“He’s now a two-year-old Group One winning son of Redoute’s Choice, so I’m not sure if we get to a Derby with him with other factors at play, but he’s a very exciting horse.”
Certainly a Caulfield Guineas victory would vault his stallion worth into another stratosphere given that his sire won the Guineas in 1999, Lonhro two years later, Starspangledbanner in 2009, while All Too Hard, Shooting To Win, Divine Prophet and Press Statement are all recent winners now at stud.
Meanwhile, the Autumn Sun is the first winner from Galileo mare, Azmiyna, a half sister to Champion European Older Horse, Azamour and the Irish Group Two winner Arazan.