Queenslander Rothfire took advantage of Golden Slipper winner Farnan simply going too fast to stake a claim as the country’s best three-year-old with a resounding victory in the group 2 Run To The Rose at Rosehill on Saturday.
Rothfire recorded the fastest time in a Run To The Rose, which was set up by Farnan flying through the first half of the race in a display that left Hugh Bowman – who was returning to race riding after a six-week suspension over a horror fall that left Andrew Adkins hospitalised – explaining his tactics in the stewards room.
However, there was no taking the gloss of Rothfire ($5.00), which is already a group 1 winner in the JJ Atkins. He rushed past Farnan ($2.30 fav) in the straight as he was fading to run fifth, and had 1½ lengths to spare from Ole Kirk ($34), with North Pacific ($3.90) another length away in third.
Rothfire was made the $2.80 Golden Rose favourite and $8 in The Everest, where he will run in the MiEverest slot. Like Gytrash seven days before, Rothfire silenced the nay-sayers.
“There is no doubting that was as good of a field as he can come up against and he made a statement,” Rothfire's trainer Rob Heathcote said. “He deserves to be in the Golden Rose and deserves a slot in The Everest.
“We had known he was very good. He showed in that race he is not a one-trick pony and has beaten the Golden Slipper and Up And Coming [Stakes] winners.
“I had him a little soft for that, so there is improvement to come in my horse.”
Jim Byrne was happy to take a sit on Rothfire when Bowman decided to be positive on Farnan in the first 200m. Bowman's move backfired on the Golden Slipper winner, which opened a five-length by the top of the straight.
'It was instinctive. Once I made that decision the horse took charge of me and took off.'Hugh Bowman
“It was instinctive. Once I made that decision the horse took charge of me and took off,” Bowman told stewards. “Once I found the front I’m restraining but was trying to keep him in a good rhythm and get him to relax under me.
“I’m trying to work with him the best I could. Unfortunately, I had given him the message to go.”
Bowman was pushed by chief steward Marc Van Gestel on whether he had got too fast as he clocked 10.36 seconds from the 1000m to the 800m and 10.87 seconds from 800m to the 600m.
The champion jockey said he didn’t want to be going that fast and agreed “he can’t sustain that pace, no horse can."
“I made a decision, an instinctive decision, to go forward of Rothfire and the horse being first-up and fresh and very well, has overreacted to that," Bowman continued.
“I basically pressed the button, which I would usually at 300.”
Stewards have adjourned the inquiry into Bowman's ride.
There was confidence in the Rothfire camp before Saturday and Byrne adding that there is more to come.
“He has to continually take steps forward and they are raising the bar with him every time, but he is the right horse for it," Byrne said. "His demeanour, you only have to watch how he walks around. He has never been here before but he takes it all in his stride."
Meanwhile, Haut Brion Her put herself in The Everest after sitting on the pace and proving too strong in the Sheraco Stakes.
In her first start in nearly 12 months, the I Am Invincible mare did all the work up front and held off a charging pack late to win by three-quarters of a length from Jen Rules and Seasons.
Trainer Chris Waller has an Everest slot and Haut Brion Her could fill it like Yes Yes Yes did when victorious last year. She has never finished further back than second in nine outings and Saturday was her sixth win.
"We just wanted to take one run at a time, to get her back and then reassess afterwards," Waller said. "There were a few horses in today with a good spruik on them. Where she fits into the Everest picture, I’m not sure.
"We found the right one last year [but there is] a lot of water to flow under the bridge.
"We'll make sure she pulls up well and have some nice dreams.”