The announcement of the new $7.5 million Golden Eagle for four-year-olds was overshadowed for Newcastle trainer Kris Lees on Wednesday by the death of potential contender Smart Melody.
The Gooree Park stud filly, which won five of six starts, died from a colic-related illness, it was announced late on Wednesday. The three-year-old claimed the listed Cap D'Antibes Stakes at Flemington and group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude at Caulfield before finishing seventh at her final start, in the group 1 Thousand Guineas.
She won $292,895 in stakes and was an $11 chance for the Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill on November 2 just after the race was revealed on Wednesday.
Lees said Smart Melody had been at Scone Equine Hospital for the past week after showing signs of colic while at Gooree Park.
Earlier, Lees said the Golden Eagle would be an attractive option for all of his exciting youngsters.
The Golden Eagle will be the second richest race in Australia behind the $13 million Everest (1200m) and in front of the $7.3 million Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Golden Rose Stakes champion The Autumn Sun opened as the $3.50 TAB favourite but Lees has a handful of early contenders in the market, including Everest runner and San Domenico Stakes winner Graff ($8).
Lees-trained filly Miss Fabulass, a group 2 winner, was $11. His group 1-winning filly El Dorado Dreaming was $26 and colt Gem Song was $51. Newcastle trainer David Atkins’ Jonker was $51.
“It’s quite an attractive option for them all,” Lees said of his exciting crop of three-year-olds and the Golden Eagle, before the news about Smart Melody.
“It’s a long way away but still it’s something you’ve got to start to think about.”
Graff was spelled after his fifth in the Everest but has returned to work.
Lees said the Star Witness colt was not going to the Magic Millions in January and was instead targeting the group 1 $1.25 million Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington in March.
While Graff is the early favourite for the Golden Eagle among Lees’ stable, the trainer believed the set weights condition of the race will give his fillies an equal chance.
“Those fillies, you’ve got to put them right in the mix with him,” he said.
AAP reports: The Golden Eagle as part of Racing NSW's bid to further strengthen the spring carnival.
It will be run the same day as the Victoria Derby at Flemington and be the third leg of a multi-million dollar treble, The Golden Slam. Any horse that can win the Golden Slipper for two-year-olds, the Golden Rose for three-year-olds and the final race at four will get a $5 million bonus.
The Golden Eagle will be the the third richest race on turf after The Everest at Randwick and the Prix De l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. At this stage, it is worth more than the Melbourne Cup but Racing NSW denies it is trying to usurp the spring from Victoria.
"Racing is competitive and we need to expand our carnival," Racing NSW chairman Russell Balding said.
Ten per cent of Golden Eagle prizemoney will be donated to a nominated charity.
Other changes to the spring program include two $1 million races, one for three-year-olds and one for juveniles.
The Bondi Stakes (1600m) will be at Randwick on October 26 with the Golden Gift for two-year-olds run at Rosehill on November 9.
FEATURE DAYS FOR SYDNEY DURING 2019 SPRING CARNIVAL
Sept 7: Randwick - Chelmsford Stakes
Sept 14: Rosehill - Run To The Rose
Sept 21: Randwick - George Main Stakes
Sept 21: Rosehill - Golden Rose
Oct 5: Randwick - Epsom Handicap
Oct 12: Randwick - Spring Champion Stakes
Oct 19: Randwick - The Everest
Oct 26: Randwick - Bondi Stakes
Nov 2: Rosehill - The Golden Eagle
Nov 9: Rosehill - Golden Gift