Extraordinary Orr Stakes Triumph for Mr Brightside (NZ)

11 February 2024

The career of Karaka graduate Mr Brightside (NZ) (Bullbars) continues to reach greater and greater heights, including a stunning performance to get up off the canvas and snatch a first-up victory in Saturday’s A$750,000 Group One C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.

Mr Brightside (NZ) returns to scale. Photo: Bruno Cannatelli

The Orr Stakes was the fifth Group One win and 15th victory overall for Mr Brightside, who has earned a massive A$11.92m in prize-money. He was bought for just $22,000 from the 2019 Karaka May Sale.

Mr Brightside had never previously won in the first race of his autumn campaign, and for a significant part of Saturday’s Orr Stakes, it looked like that trend would continue.

Formidable front-runner Pride Of Jenni (Pride Of Dubai), who had run her rivals into the ground in the Group One Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) and Group One Cantala Stakes (1600m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington in November, adopted those same tactics on Saturday.

She rounded the home turn in full flight and with a margin of more than six lengths over Mr Brightside, who was in midfield and appeared to be battling under vigorous riding from jockey Craig Williams.

But Williams brought Mr Brightside out to the centre of Caulfield’s home straight and called on him to show all of his champion qualities. He slowly but steadily lengthened stride and built momentum, eating into Pride Of Jenni’s margin.

It took him every bit of the 1400-metre distance, but Mr Brightside grabbed Pride Of Jenni in the final few strides before the finish line and snatched a breathtaking win by a nose.

“That was hard work,” Williams said. “Usually when he starts off his preparation, he’s a little bit cheeky, a bit full of himself, because he’s got a lot of improvement.

“Today he got to the start and reared. We were lucky enough to get into a nice position from our barrier, he raced well, but Jenni is such a tough horse. We know that.

“When we came under pressure and he wasn’t travelling, I thought, ‘Oh wow, he’s still got a lot more improvement to come.’ But he’s just got a great tenacity and will to win. I can’t wait to give him another pat now.”

The Orr Stakes continued an outstanding season for Mr Brightside, whose six-race campaign in the spring produced wins in the Group One Memsie Stakes (1400m), Group One Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) and Group Two P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m), along with second placings in the Group One Cox Plate (2040m), King Charles III Stakes (1600m) and Cantala Stakes.

“He’s a great horse,” said JD Hayes, who trains in partnership with his brothers Ben and Will. “He’s so dear to our hearts.

“Pride Of Jenni was so brave there, but I was glad that he got there late and there’s so much improvement in him to come. Hopefully it’s the start of a big autumn.

“He’s been beaten first-up in the autumn first-up every time, so this is a first for him and we’re very happy.”

Vendor Phoenix Park
Purchaser Phill Cataldo Bloodstock (Waikato)
Breeding Bullbars – Lilahjay
Sale Lot 159, 2019 Karaka May Sale, $22,000Lot 39, 2019 Ready to Run Sale, Psd (Res $50,000)
Bred by R I & Est Late M A G Johnson


Photo: Bruno Cannatelli