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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SUNDAY: February 26, 2023: HAWKESBURY pair Kosmos Candos and Torrens will kick off autumn campaigns in separate races at Royal Randwick on Saturday, with their respective trainers setting their sights on Group 1 features this autumn.

Trainer Terry Croft is looking to the Rosehill Guineas and Australian Derby as targets with the lightly-raced three-year-old Kandos Cosmos, whilst fellow trainer Marc Chevalier is aiming the good stayer Torrens at the Sydney Cup.

Croft began training in Queensland in the mid-1980s before moving back to New South Wales and is one of Hawkesbury’s longest serving trainers, whereas young expatriate Frenchman Chevalier launched his career at Hawkesbury not quite two years ago.

Kandos Cosmos is set to resume in a Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m), and Torrens in the Listed Randwick City Stakes (2000m).

Racing at the elite level is totally foreign to Chevalier, but Croft has had one Group 1 representative – and it was 12 years ago and didn’t end happily.

His filly Cool Flyer, twice a winner at Canterbury and Hawkesbury, was a $101 chance when she ran seventh to Greg Hickman’s Mirjulisa Lass in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens in April, 2011 in what proved to be her final race (the Not A Single Doubt mare was later exported to China in 2016).

“She was run off at the 900m by another filly (Who’s Ready) whose saddle had slipped earlier, and was eventually eased out of the race,” Croft recalled.

“Cool Flyer virtually lost all chance, and Rod Quinn, who rode her that day, felt she would have finished ‘Top 3’ but for that unfortunate incident.”

It will be some story indeed if either Kandos Cosmos or Torrens – or both – can capture a Group 1 in the coming weeks.

Former publican Mal Russell bought a Tale Of The Cat mare Cubic Cat, who had been unplaced at her only two Victorian starts, in foal to dual Group 1 winner Stratum Star for $5000 through Inglis Digital in June, 2019.

Kandos Cosmos was the result – and he named him combining the small Central Tablelands town of Kandos, which is not far from his boutique Royal Stone Stud farm at Mt Marsden, with cosmos from the colt’s sire.

Croft did not start the now three-year-old until late in his two-year-old season when narrowly beaten at $81 at Canterbury last May.

He later ran fourth to Pierossa in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m) at set weights at Newcastle in November before breaking through there at his next start over 1880m.

After Kandos Cosmos ran an excellent third to hotpot Kovalica in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2100m) at Eagle Farm on December 17, Croft immediately began looking ahead to Sydney’s autumn carnival.

He was pleased with the colt’s third (only three ran and multiple Group 1 winner Cascadian was second) in a 1000m Open trial at Hawkesbury last Tuesday, and will begin a new campaign with him on Saturday, with Jay Ford aboard.

“Kandos Cosmos had a good hitout, and that has brought him on for his resumption on Saturday,” Croft said.

“I did nominate him for the Group 1 Randwick Guineas the same day, but the Midway race is more suitable to get him going.

“All going well, he will then go to the Rosehill Guineas ($600,000 over 2000m) on March 18 and Australian Derby ($2m over 2400m) on April 1.

Torrens also trialled on his home track last Tuesday, finishing a close second in a 1250m heat and is ready to go back to the races on Saturday.

Chevalier got a call out of the blue from Singapore owner Vincent Balasubramaniam, whom he had never met, offering him the son of Cox Plate winner Adelaide to train because he considered the French the best at preparing stayers.

He repaid him and clinched his own first stakes race in the process, the Listed Christmas Cup (2400m) at Randwick last December, with Torrens, now unbeaten from three starts there over that distance.

The $2m Sydney Cup of course is at 3200m, and Torrens’ trainer is meticulously preparing the six-year-old for a shot at Group 1 glory.

“He will kick off in the Randwick City Stakes and then go to the Group 3 Manion Cup (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens a fortnight later,” Chevalier said.

“But I’m not sure whether he will have another run after that before the Cup.

“Torrens was 27th in ballot order with 50kg for last year’s Cup (which he didn’t contest), and has 51.5kg this time but is 37th in order of entry.

“There is obviously more depth in the nominations this year, and I might have to start him in the Group 2 Chairman’s Quality (2600m) at Randwick a week before the Cup, as the winner gets automatic exemption from ballot and penalty.

“I’ll have a better idea about making the Cup field as we get closer to the race.”

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