Graeme Rogerson has returned to his old stomping ground to take out the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick with Sharp ‘N' Smart, whom he trains in partnership with wife Debbie, giving the Rogerson's their first Australian Group 1 since Shootoff captured the 2011 Queensland Derby.
Rogerson closed his Randwick stables back in 2013 and permanently moved back to New Zealand to train. But not before spending decades dominating some of Australia's biggest races.
Rogerson was hoping Sharp ‘N' Smart could elevate himself to the top of the order, having the form on the board after a fighting last-start win in the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm 10 days ago.
2022 Spring Champion Stakes
“He's a very good horse. He has nearly done what I want. He wins the Derby next Saturday and then he can have a holiday. He's got a really big heart but he is still six months away,” said Graeme.
“Hughie just said he went 50 yards further than anything but every time you ask him to do more, he just does it.”
“I haven't had a horse like him for a long time. He's only got one more week and then he can come home and have a good holiday. I'm going to run him in the (VRC) Derby, he'll go a mile-and-a-half (2500m) no worries and he's better on the good track than the wet.
“He only does what he has to do. I put the visors on because when he saw that other horse the other day, he just wanted to stay by it. He is half-human, he's such a quiet horse.”
Getting another taste of winning Australia's Group 1 races has also prompted the Hall of Fame trainer to vow to return in the Autumn.
“I'm going to bring five back for the Autumn and give a few of your big races a bit of a touch up.”
Starting at $7 odds with online bookmakers, Sharp ‘N' Smart was midfield and caught three deep in the early stages before finding room to peel out and chase down the front
runners down the straight.
A courageous run saw the gelding just get there on the line, a nose in front of Elliptical ($5) with race favourite She's Extreme ($4.20) half a length away third.
Bowman was full of praise for the horse after the race.
“He's a very courageous horse. I had a lot of confidence in him.
“I was just lucky I was on a horse that has a great will to win. I know him well, he's come a long way in the last six months and he's going to continue to improve as a galloper, Very exciting.
“I knew it was a sticky draw, but I didn't want to fall into the trap of getting him up racing like he was over the mile at Warwick Farm when he bounced well and I rushed him into the box seat position.
“I just had to take my medicine but what I was able to do was get him into a really good rhythm, he wasn't spending any gas and I knew I had the two to beat positioned right in front of me.
“That is why I didn't press forward to pocket them, I waited for them to inject pressure into each other. I did my work around the course but they did their work from the 700m to the line and the best horse came out on top.”