Costa Rolfe



Five horses with major X-factor set to make an impact this spring

Five progressive horses who look primed to make an impact at Group One level in Australia in the spring.

As we enter the second month of winter in Australia it seems an opportune time to look forward to what the warmer spring days might bring.

These five progressive horses have the requisite ‘X-factor’ to make a big impact this spring, and all things going well should be showing up to chase some of the major prizemoney once their winter spells are concluded.


There appear to be no limits for this horse after a sensational second campaign that culminated in a dominant Group Two Western Australian Derby win.

Resuming at Pinjarra in February after an unplaced debut effort at Northam last October, the Dan Morton-trained gelding served notice of his talent with an impressive closing win over 1400m, taking a late split to put the race away in a couple of big strides.

That maiden win was to be the first of five consecutive victories, with the tractable son of Playing God usually switched-off slightly worse than midfield by regular rider Chris Parnham. And when Parnham decided it was time to push the button, this gelding really dug in and responded.

Alaskan God sustained a wide, looping run to take out the traditional Derby lead-up, the Listed Melvista Stakes (2200m) by a length, before destroying them in the Derby when again forced wide around the home turn.

Aiming at a Caulfield Cup with no weight looks an attractive path for this rising four-year-old, but Morton on Thursday suggested that although Melbourne was under serious consideration, a Western Australian campaign focusing on the Kingston Town Stakes and possibly a Perth Cup might be the preferred option.

The way Alaskan God travels so sweetly in his races before accelerating when asked will serve him well in future staying assignments against higher calibre opposition, and whether it be Perth or Melbourne, this horse can achieve some big things this spring.


It felt like trainer Gary Portelli’s colt remained slightly underrated throughout the autumn. His debut win in the Breeders’ Plate was exceptional when strung-up behind them for much of the straight. Belying his inexperience however, the son of Sebring was still able to produce a huge late finishing burst when switched off heels by jockey Jason Collett, going on to record an emphatic win.

A narrow Inglis Millenium third behind Xtravagant Star and the high quality Pierro filly Paris Dior was bookended by impressive swooping wins in the Golden Gift and Group Two Todman Stakes.


Sejardan returns to scale after his Todman Stakes victory. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Come Grand Final day it was a ‘forget he ever ran’ job in the messy Golden Slipper taken out by highly impressive stablemate Fireburn, with the door slamming shut on Sejardan and Collett when angling for a run in the straight.

Portelli will likely target the Run To The Rose with both Sejardan and Fireburn but it is the imposing chestnut colt – reportedly bigger and stronger again having returned to work from his winter spell – who is the one to follow for the Group One Golden Rose.


This two-year-old trialled like an absolute superstar prior to her debut on a rain-effected Randwick’s Kensington track over 1100m and ran right up to it, thrashing her opposition under James McDonald.

That was the one and only start for John O’Shea’s filly, but the style of both performances suggests that she is up to being competitive in much higher grade.

A daughter of Japanese stallion Satono Aladdin (a G1 Yasuda Kinen-winner and son of the great Deep Impact), her mother Syrah has already produced two Group One winners over a mile in A Touch Of Ruby and Loire, which suggests she might even improve over 1400m and further.

Breeders Trelawney Stud have confirmed that the Koshu is back in work and will target stakes races this spring.



This regally-bred son of So You Think will be out to stamp his stallion credentials this spring after an extremely promising first campaign.

Illation is the third of three stakeswinners for the quality producer Pontiana, and is a full-brother to the Group One Randwick Guineas-winner Inference. At this early stage, it looks like the brothers share more than just the small white star on their forehead.

Illation streeted his rivals on debut at Pakenham. (Photo by Ross Holburt/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

Displaying talent to burn, Illation bolted in his maiden by four-and-half lengths under the Pakenham lights before floating west and again dominating his opposition, charging through along the rails to coast home by just under four lengths in the Listed Nitschke (1400m).

Overcoming traffic issues to make it three-from-three in the Port Adelaide Guineas (1600m), that was the last we saw of the Price and Kent-trained colt, with the spelling paddock favoured with one eye to the spring. That eye firmly rests on the Golden Eagle, and it’s a target the stable should well know how to strike, taking out last year’s edition with the progressive I’m Thunderstruck.


This colt is another well-bred conveyance, being by another Japanese superstar in Maurice and out of the Redoutes Choice mare Belle Giselle, who produced two stakeswinners including Messene.

Although the Team Hawkes two-year-old was narrowly beaten on debut over 1200m at Moonee Valley, the winner Zamborgini was coming off a six-length defeat of stakes-placed Lascars, and looks very smart himself. Foujita San sat outside the lead and dug right in for the fight in the straight, which was a big tick debuting around the tight Valley circuit.

Foujita San was a dominant Sandown winner back in April. (Photo by Pat Scala/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

A second and final start of the campaign saw the $360,000 purchase step out in trip to the more spacious Sandown 1400m. In what amounted to little more than a track gallop, he put his moderate opposition away by five-and-a-half lengths, as he should have done.

The Golden Rose and Caulfield Guineas loom as realistic targets for this colt, with money already coming for him in the former.



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