Talking Points: Saturday - 2nd of December 2023

Winterbottom day at Ascot saw class rise to the top.

Jockey : TIM CLARK winning after the XXXX Expressway Stakes at Rosehill in Australia.
Jockey : TIM CLARK winning after the XXXX Expressway Stakes at Rosehill in Australia. Picture: Steve Hart

Overpass Class

It honestly seemed a bit strange that Overpass didn't start much shorter in Saturday's Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m). Me firmly excluded, there were plenty of well-respected judges tipping him and the ratings said he was a long way clear of the others.

I'm not sure what the market saw to send him out a $3 chance given his worst recent rating, beaten 4 lengths in The Everest, was still about as good as most of these horses go, and that hasn't changed post-race.

Overpass had run 119-122-122 and then 112 at his four most recent runs. Second placegetter on Saturday, Oscar's Fortune, ran to 113 and Ripcord (3rd) ran to 110.

He certainly got a good run on speed, able to cross and sit outside the leader with relative fuss, but again that was easy to forecast- he does things the right way, puts himself in winning positions, and had also drawn inside most of the other speed influences.

If Overpass had run to his worst rating in a year, he would've been beaten a nose by Oscar's Fortune, and he had three ratings prior (one at Ascot) that actually win this race by further than what he did.

He's run to 117 on Saturday which is still a length or so off his best and around half a length off his win in The Quokka, but as mentioned pre-race, this did look a fair bit weaker than The Quokka with Amelia's Jewel, Bella Nipotina and Asfoora in behind him on that day.

The pair of three-year-olds in Oscar's Fortune and Ripcord have made good improvement, as one could easily forecast being lightly raced and into a Group One, but the market had them going to a pretty high level here.

Overpass was given a 33% chance of winning when 75% of his ratings in the past 12 months would mean they have to improve between 15-18 pounds and the other 25% meant they still had to improve 8 pounds, which only Oscar's Fortune has just managed to do.

In terms of other recent winners of the Winterbottom, Overpass actually sits a touch below the winning standard.

Over the past five years, the winning average has been 118.8, nearly 2 pounds higher than Overpass.

It sits on par with Elite Street in 2020, above Graceful Girl's 116 in 2020 (although at WFA she'd effectively be rated 120), narrowly behind Voodoo Lad's 118 in 2018 and further below Paulele (121) and Hey Doc (122) in 2022 and 2020 respectively.

The placement by Bjorn Baker in Overpass' success can't be underestimated either. Firstly the option of the owners to geld him this Autumn before The Quokka and then for the stable to send him West on two occasions, while still having a crack at the Doomben 10,000 and Everest has paid dividends.

It won't shock to see them continue to map out the best program for this horse, with options like the Goodwood in Adelaide and another shot at Queensland riches very realistic targets to pick up more Group Ones and plenty more prize money, but until then, we'll just celebrate the price we got on Saturday.