26 February 2024
So You Think's roaring Memsie win
roaring Memsie win
27 August 2021
Steven Arnold won four consecutive Group 1 races aboard the champion So You Think in the spring of 2010, but oddly none of those triumphs – including his one and only Cox Plate – could eclipse the elation he felt at his first ride on the still emerging star.
That came in the Memsie Stakes, which was still three years away from being upgraded from a G2 race to a G1.
It was a race that had long been used by So You Think’s legendary trainer Bart Cummings to start the spring campaigns of his Cups horses.
But there was more to this Memsie Stakes than being a mere kick-off point. It was something of a do-or-die moment for the horse or so thought his trainer, his jockey and his owner Dato Tan Chin Nam.
“That was nearly the biggest thrill of my career to win that race,” Arnold said this week of So You Think’s comeback Memsie Stakes win.
“There were two things – we knew he was back, and I’d won on him so I was going to say on him – so that race gave me such a thrill.
“From there, it was probably pressure and more expectation, but that day cemented him as the weight-for-age horse of the spring, and they really didn’t get near him again at weight-for-age.
“That race was a real defining moment for him.”
After his Memsie return, So You Think triumphed in four consecutive G1 weight-for-age races culminating in a glorious Cox Plate performance, that had the crowd on their feet and roaring for the champ well before the home turn.
It was a roar of another kind that had earlier that year threatened to de-rail So You Think’s career.
Arnold had never ridden So You Think until the spring of 2010, but he knew him pretty well. He’d finished alongside him on Tickets (sixth) when So You Think made his debut in Victoria with a fifth placing in the Caulfield Guineas and a few weeks later then chased him home aboard Zipping (third) in the Cox Plate.
“He made a fair bit of noise that’s for sure,” Arnold said of the majestic black colt’s roaring condition. “But the (throat) operation was as successful as it could be and meant he could get at his wind.
“He also wore a noseband to have his mouth closed. We thought he was in good order, but it was still something of a guessing game.”
So You Think went to the summer spelling paddock as a three-year-old after adding a second placing in the G1 Emirates to his Cox Plate victory, seemingly with Australian racing (and, as is turned out, the world’s) at his feet.
He came back into work in the autumn before it was announced he “had not come up” and would spell until the spring. There were a few who suspected the reason for his absence from the autumn but his throat operation only became official days before his return the following spring in the then G2 Memsie Stakes.
For regulars at Flemington trackwork, So You Think’s roar was well-known. Even those at Caulfield knew his sound as 12 months earlier he had a pre-Guineas gallop in the early half-light at Caulfield on the Tuesday morning and track-watchers would recall how you could hear the horse well before you saw him.
Throw forward a year and he did a similar gallop on the course proper at Caulfield. This time however, all you could hear as he strode by was his thundering hooves.
Still, nothing was taken for granted as he lined up in the Memsie Stakes.
“We were all in the same boat a little bit I think,” Arnold said of So You Think’s return.
“I’d been doing a fair bit of riding for Bart in the years leading up to that and there were a few jockeys in the mix to ride him, but I had a bit of luck getting on him.
“We went to the track (Caulfield) on the Tuesday and he gave me a really good feeling obviously but he’d missed the autumn due to that wind operation so we didn’t really know where he was going to be under top pressure.”
So You Think ran as a $6.50 third favourite in the 2010 Memsie behind Shoot Out (third as $3fav) and the ultimate race leader Typhoon Tracy (fourth at $3.10).
The gates opened and Arnold soon found a great position with the four-year-old seemingly idling under him.
“He was a big, strong exuberant colt and he could be aggressive, so we were mindful of trying to get him as comfortable as possible and that ended up outside the leader and that was a great spot for him,” Arnold said.
“He didn’t have the best turn of foot of the horses I have ridden but he could build and maintain a really strong gallop for 600 metres and that’s what he did that day.
“I was mindful Whobegotyou (runner-up) had a brilliant turn of foot – probably better than us – but I rolled from the 600-metre mark, so I made sure he couldn’t outsprint us.”
So You Think held a half-length margin on the line and that’s as close as they got to him in the next four group 1 weight-for-age tests. He breezed through the Underwood ($1.75), before a similar demolition in the Caulfield Stakes ($1.40) and Cox Plate ($1.50) before his superb near four-length romp in the Mackinnon Stakes ($1.60).
He was then burdened with 56 kilograms on a wet track in the Melbourne Cup, a race which ultimately fell to the best stayer in the form of the import Americain.
His third placing that day was among So You Think’s bravest runs and ultimately, it was his last in Australia before he was sold to Coolmore and won another five group 1 races in the northern hemisphere for Aidan O’Brien.
So You Think was originally purchased for NZ$110,000 from the 2008 NZB Premier Yearling Sale by DGR’s Duncan Ramage for owner Dato Tan Chin Nam.
Story courtesy of Racing.com (Andrew Eddy)