The undoubted hero of the day at Caulfield on Saturday was Foreteller, who took out the feature race, the Underwood Stakes in fine fashion, thus adding a third Group 1 race to his CV and giving his trainer Chris Waller a two State Group 1 double with Sacred Falls winning the George Main Stakes at Randwick.
As there are nine races on the program in Melbourne throughout Spring, the races are run at 35 minute intervals, so an afternoon at the races passes fairly swiftly. Previously the interval was 40 minutes, which on occasions was a tad too long.
Arriving at the course around 1.40 pm, just after Race 3, I as usual dallied around the stalls area. Not many of the stars had arrived at that point so I headed for the public lawn and mounting yard to view the runners in Race 4, the TMB Printing Handicap, a race over 1400 metres for three year old fillies. I decided to have a little money on Fontein Ruby who I had witnessed beating the boys at Flemington at her last start. She’s a lovely black filly, but my bet must have put a hoodoo on her chances as she ended up unplaced.
The winner was Thinking Of You from the Peter Moody stable, with favourite Pickin’ Time running second 2½ lengths behind and Pittsburgh Flyer scoring third place.
My luck was out all day, so I should have given up after that race.
Despite my lack of success on the punt I did manage to take some good photos. As the day was not bright – in fact it was somewhat overcast and chilly – the light was good for photography.
Back in the stalls area Silent Achiever had arrived, so I took to the opportunity to snap a few head shots.
She was being a bit naughty, chewing on her tether, pawing the straw on the floor of her stall and kicking the back of it.
The Offer was being walked in the walking ring, so I got a photo of him as well.
Back in the mounting yard the runners were assembling for the fifth race on the program, the Dalziel Racing Tile Importing Handicap, a race for mares over 1400 metres. I was most interested in seeing Spirit of Heaven, Lights of Heaven’s younger sister.
Of course my wager on her ensured she failed to run a place. The race was won by outsider Star Fashion, from favourite Suavito with Nadeem Miss running third.
There was only one more race to run before the feature, and that was the Naturalism Stakes. For stayers, it is run over 2000 metres, and the winner gets automatic entry into the Caulfield Cup.
Gris Caro raced up with the speed beside Bonfire through most of the race and beat off a fast finishing Entirely Platinum to win by a nose, with Bonfire a similar short margin holding third. Spillway, who started as favourite, was blocked for a run and finished seventh.
My money was on Our Voodoo Prince so naturally he came nowhere.
It was not a day for favourites at all, with only the winner of Race 9 gratifying favourites punters.
Next up was the Underwood Stakes so I made sure to stake out a spot on the fence next to the mounting yard.
Back on the public lawn at the fence one is given plenty of opportunities to take action shots as the horses leave the mounting yard to go to the barriers…
No mare has won the Underwood Stakes since Tristarc won it way back in 1985, so the odds were against Silent Achiever from the start. Even so she started as favourite, but only managed to run fifth, though only two lengths off the winner.
For a while there watching the race, it looked like 50/1 shot Crackerjack King was going to cause a boilover. It was a very close finish with Foreteller diving through to win from Happy Trails by a nose with Crackerjack King holding on for third a length away.
Foreteller’s win was popular with the crowd. He has a habit of winning Group 1 races every so often. You just have to predict which one it will be. Alas I didn’t have money on him this time, as I favoured the mare, so at least he was spared my kiss of death.
I stayed for Race 8 as I wanted to photograph Samaready and May’s Dream. I got some lovely shots of Samaready, so it’s lucky that I did. After her failure in the Sportingbet Sprint she has been retired to stud, where she will have an appointment with All Too Hard in due course.
Refusing to give up after my run of losses, I threw one last dice to bet on Spirits Dance who I thought had as good a chance as any and was at good odds. For a moment I thought she would win, but she was overtaken by Girl Guide, A Time For Julia and Shamal Wind and finished fifth.
Girl Guide is a half sister to Gregers and obviously has some of her talent on the track. She was third favourite, so it wasn’t such a surprise to see her win.
After that race I called it quits and didn’t stay for the final race of the day. I did however take the opportunity to go check out Cauthen in the stalls to get a photo of him.
I enjoy my Saturday afternoon outings to the races. These low key Group 1 race meetings are much more pleasant than the big race days like Derby Day and the Melbourne Cup. They’re not crowded and the atmosphere is friendly and cheerful.
Attending as often as I do, you run into the same people – other keen photographers like Geo Hillis and amateurs like me, as well as regular race enthusiasts who also enjoy an afternoon at the track. So a big hello to Artie if you should chance to visit this blog – look forward to catching up when next I’m at the track. And please feel free to steal my photos for your blog, whatever it is.
The local racing action next weekend is happening on Friday night at Moonee Valley and on Sunday at Caulfield. The AFL Grand Final dominates Melbourne next Saturday, so no major race meetings are scheduled, though Sydney has racing as usual. The Group 1 Moir Stakes is run at Moonee Valley, and the Group 1 Rupert Clark Stakes features at Caulfield. I’m still deciding if I’ll go to either meeting.
Speaking of the Sydney races, the outcomes from last Saturday saw an old favourite of mine, Manawanui, win his first race for several years. He’s been plagued by injury problems and returned to racing after a long break on Saturday. It’s good to see him back in the winners circle.
Earthquake, having her first run over 1400 metres, was beaten again into third place in the Tea Rose Stakes. Outsider First Seal took home the bikkies from Winx.
Junoob beat Criterion in the Hills Stakes, and as previously mentioned Sacred Falls took out the George Main Stakes from stable mate Royal Descent with 60/1 shot Laser Hawk running third.