The Mackinnon Stakes used to be run on Derby Day and was usually contested by Melbourne Cup bound stayers, but has in recent times become less relevant to the Cup with International runners dominating the big two mile handicap.
Since 2016 the Mackinnon Stakes is now one of the two Group 1 races run on the final day of Flemington’s racing carnival. The Emirates Stakes used to be run on this day but now is one of the feature races on Derby Day and retitled the Kennedy Mile.
This last day of the carnival is generally pretty pleasant and not as crowded as Derby Day or Melbourne Cup day, and so it was last Saturday, making it easier to move around the course.
I arrived at Flemington at around 1.30 pm in time to witness, though not photograph, race 3, the Listed Spring Stakes for three year olds. I’d taken along my step stool and got it through Security without any difficulty, but it was cumbersome to carry around so I hid it behind the rose hedge near my favourite spot on the access gate along from the finish line, so I could go and visit the stalls area.
Security was out in even more force last Saturday due to the incident in Bourke Street on Friday afternoon, and they made taking photos challenging, intruding on my view of the finish line and horses returning to scale.
I didn’t tarry long in the stalls area, only getting a few photos of Darren Weir’s contendants for the feature races.
Back trackside for race 4, the Group 3 Chatham Stakes, I was keen to try out my step and see if it overcame the high rail that obstructs one’s view of the track, and it worked like a charm. Though only 220 mm high, it gave me sufficient leverage to avoid rails intruding on shots, and as the sun was shining, most of my photos came out well.
Dreamforce, the winner of the Chatham Stakes led from the start to the finish to hold out Widgee Turf and Perast.
Race 5 was the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a race for stayers over 2600 metres. Race favourite Jaameh fought out the finish with Sully down the straight, to win by a nose. Libran ran third two lengths behind.
The feature Group 1 races were scheduled as races 7 and 8, so there was one more race to go before they were run. This was the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes for mares run over 2000 metres.
Miss Siska was the race favourite , but was relegated to second place by the Darren Weir trained Kenedna who had not won for over a year. Sydney mare Luvaluva finished third.
Sprints down the straight at Flemington are always difficult to photograph as the field either splits into two separate groups or races down the middle towards the grandstand side, so you are lucky to get the winner in the picture of the finish. To make matters worse, the security guys spread themselves around the perimeter of the course outside the fence but within the outer rail. As a consequence I totally failed to get any photos of the VRC Sprint finish.
Santa Ana Lane raced down the grandstand side to defeat In Her Time. Jungle Cat and Pierata dead heated for third. Santa Ana Lane has now won five Group 1 races in three States. The VRC Sprint field was as good as the field that contested The Everest, and The Everest winner, Redzel, was the hot favourite for the Flemington sprint, but finished fifth.
Quite a few of the Group 1 races contested this spring were won by International raiders, so Santa Ana Lane’s victory was sweet for locally bred racers, as was the win of Trap For Fools in the Mackinnon Stakes.
Originally racing in Western Australia, Trap For Fools is now trained by Jarrod McLean who is based at Yangery outside Melbourne near Woodford.
Trap For Fools was denied a chance to run in the Cox Plate this year and missed running in the Coongy Cup on Caulfield Cup day owing to a stabling mix up, but ran second to Ventura Storm in the Moonee Valley Cup, so he is thoroughly deserving of a Group 1 win.
He led from the start and held on to win by a nose from import Latrobe having his first start in Australia. Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut flew from the tail of the field to finish a close third.
The step stool, as well as giving me an advantage when taking photos, also doubled as a handy seat in between races, so I’ll definitely take it along to Flemington in the future.
A young couple asked if I’d take their photo, so here it is for Johanna and Martin with the finishing post in the background.
In the main it has been an entertaining Spring Racing Carnival, the highlight being of course Winx’s Cox Plate.
It was sad that Thecliffsofmoher was euthanised on Melbourne Cup Day, but generally the season was relatively injury free.
I won’t know what to do with myself on Saturday from now on, but perhaps I can think of other things to blog about whilst waiting for the Autumn racing season.