Will the crown fit the jewel?

Commanding Jewel

At the recent Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Awards’ night – the title of HTBA Champion Broodmare was awarded to the now deceased mare Regard (Zabeel).

Regard was owned by Mr GJ Perry and before her premature death in 2011, she had produced just two live foals. Those two foals – a 2009 filly by Fastnet Rock (Danehill) and a 2010 filly by Commands (Danehill), are none other than Champion four-time Group One winner Atlantic Jewel (Fastnet Rock) and Group One winner Commanding Jewel (Commands).

Atlantic Jewel’s only defeat came in the G1 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield when she finished second to six-time G1 winner Dundeel (High Chaparral) in a scintillating finish – beaten just .1L. Atlantic Jewel’s G1 victories came in the 2011 Thousand Guineas, the 2012 All-Aged Stakes, the 2013 Memsie Stakes, and the 2013 Caulfield Stakes.

Atlantic Jewel was the short-priced favourite for the 2013 Cox Plate before suffering a tendon injury that resulted in her retirement from racing. It had been the second tendon injury of her career so it t did not come as a surprise to trainer Mark Kavannagh when her principal owner Coolmore announced her retirement.

Atlantic Jewel headed across the Atlantic in February of this year to be covered by Coolmore’s Champion Irish stallion, and one of the world’s leading sires, Galileo (Sadler’s Wells). Ireland is where she will remain, for the time-being at least.

Atlantic Jewel won the G1 Thousand Guineas on just her fourth start. It was her first start at Stakes level. She crushed subsequent four-time G1 winner Mosheen (Fastnet Rock), by 3L.

The following year Commanding Jewel, trained by Leon Corstens, won the Thousand Guineas on her fifth start. Placed-twice at Stakes level in the lead up to this race, it was the filly’s first Stakes success and she won decisively, beating Dear Demi (Dehere) by nearly 3L.

Commanding Jewel has had just seven starts so far for four wins and two placings. Like her three-quarter sister Atlantic Jewel, she has been unlucky with injuries. Following her G1 win in the Thousand Guineas, Commanding Jewel was away from the track for over 10 months due to injury. When she returned to the racetrack in the Spring of 2013, she won the G2 Let’s Elope Stakes on her second start back, beating Catkins (Dubawi) by .5L.

The Let’s Elope Stakes had not been her Spring target however. She was being aimed at the G1 Rupert Clarke Stakes but was withdrawn from that race when inflammation was found in a hind leg.

Commanding Jewel has not raced since winning the Let’s Elope Stakes on the 7th September. She injured a hoof in a paddock accident last November which further scuppered her trainer’s plans for her.

Following a barrier trial in Cranbourne Monday morning, where she finished second, trainer Leon Corstens is still aiming the four-year-old at the G1 Tatt’s Tiara on June 21st. Having won a jump-out at Seymour last month, Commanding Jewel was beaten 1.5L by city winner Use the Lot (Ustinov) in Monday’s 1190m trial.

It wasn’t an ideal trial, with nothing else wanting to take the lead. Four-year old Commanding Jewel raced a bit keen and fresh early on, before fading in the last 100m on a track that was a slow 7.

It’s never easy readying a horse for a G1 contest first-up but at this stage Corstens is aiming at next month’s Tatt’s Tiara. “I’ll see how she pulls up and at this stage it’s full steam ahead” said Corstens. The trainer is hoping to give Commanding Jewel an exhibition gallop in the coming weeks to help his filly become race-fit for her first-up G1 assignment.

There is a small chance that the filly may make her return in the G2 Dane Ripper Stakes, 1400m, but it is doubtful she will contest the G1 Stradbroke Handicap, with a question mark now hanging over her fitness following her barrier trial defeat on Monday.

The Tattersall’s Tiara is the final G1 of the Australian racing season and is the main target for fillies and mares that compete at the Brisbane Winter Carnival.

The G1 Stradbroke Handicap, run over the same distance of 1400m and run over the same track as the Tatt’s Tiara, is often used as a lead up race for participants.

Four of the last eight winners of the Tatt’s Tiara have come through the Stradbroke, however only one of these winners, Melito (2010), had placed in the Stradbroke.

Three recent Tatt’s Tiara winners, Red Tracer (2013), Yosei (2011) and Russeting (2009) used the G2 Dane Ripper Stakes at Eagle Farm as a lead-up race. Red Tracer (Dane Shadow) managed to win both races.

After winning the G1 All-Aged Stakes Atlantic Jewel did not return to a race track for sixteen months, and returned to win the G1 Memsie Stakes first-up. One would be premature in thinking that her three-quarter sister is not capable of such a commanding first-up effort. On June 21st I hope we get the opportunity to find out.

This article first appeared on StableSmart.com on May 26, 2014