It was no surprise that Chris Waller won the Fujitsu General Handicap at Rosehill Gardens, but it wasn’t the one most bettors were expecting.
Yggdrasil, named after a heavy metal song, rode through extremely heavy track conditions to win an endurance test at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
With the track downgraded to a heavy 10 before the Fujitsu General Handicap (2400m), this race was always going to be a war of attrition.
Before the race, there were concerns that Yggdrasil, trained by Chris Waller, would remain strong over 2400m, but she proved those doubters wrong and pointed to her ability to race in the wet for an easy win.
Yggdrasil took 2m 39.19s to complete the course, almost 15 seconds outside the course record, an indication of how heavy the track was as the rain continued to fall during the meeting.
But it was not a day for fast times – even Yggdrasil’s famous stable mate, super sprinter Nature Strip, would have struggled to advance.
Waller was not on track at Rosehill on Saturday, but team rep Charlie Duckworth said Yggdrasil was clearly a superior mudlark.
“Yggdrasil relishes the wet,” Duckworth said.
“She’s only low rated, but we thought with the small pitch we should have a throw at the stumps.”
It proved to be a profitable call as Yggdrasil ($5.50) raised over $75,000 for her victory as she handled the wet track conditions better than her more experienced rivals to score by widening a length and a quarter of Oceanic Flash ($6.50) with Our Candidate ($4.40) more than three lengths from third.
The Waller-trained black queen was sent the $3 favorite but was under pressure heading into the home turn and finished a distant fifth in the six-horse field, more than 15 lengths behind her stablemate.
Duckworth said Black Queen “lost her turn in the incredibly heavy conditions”.
“A few jockeys came into the stewards’ room after race three and wondered if we should race, which tells you how heavy the track is today,” Duckworth said before the Racing NSW stewards n gave up the last five races of the program.
“Black Queen was beaten away from home and I’d say the track was the only real excuse.”
Yggdrasil runs in the colors of prominent Sydney owner Carl Holt, who explained the significance of the mare’s name.
“It’s a song by a heavy metal band that I like called Brothers Of Metal, a band from Scandinavia,” Holt said. “I name almost all of my horses after heavy metal bands.”
Yggdrasil, who had only won a Scone Maiden in his previous 11 starts, enjoyed the patient riding tactics of champion jockey, Willie “The Wizard” Pike.
“To be fair, Willie came in before the race and said he had watched replays of the mare’s recent races and felt like they had gone too fast with her,” Duckworth said. .
“Willie was keen for the mare to relax and switch off, which she did. The track was never going to be a concern but it was a question of whether it would stay outside the 2400m.
“When Hughie (Bowman) took off on Our Candidate halfway through the race, it was a concern because it turned the race into a real test of endurance.
“But she’s obviously still a solid 2400m and probably runs two miles (3200m) on today’s effort.”
Pike, Perth’s former lead jockey who lives in Sydney these days, was at his best on Yggdrasil.
“I guess you could run this race six times and get six different results,” Pike said.
“A horse must really want to win in these conditions because it’s not easy there.
“Yggdrasil was traveling well but I wanted to wait until I was on the straight before asking him for one last push.
“We weren’t entirely sure of his ability to stay, but after winning in these conditions, we won’t have to worry about that anymore.”
Originally published as Yggdrasil rode through tough conditions to win at Rosehill Gardens