Yesterday I went with friends on my annual pilgrimage to Moonee Valley racetrack. It was Manikato Stakes day, the first Group 1 race on the Spring Racing Calendar.
The day was perfect weather wise - warm and sunny. Quite a change from the last two years, when it was wet, windy and cold.
There was more of a crowd this time round, no doubt due to the absence of AFL games being played in Melbourne this weekend. In fact, the finals are over for Victorian teams for the rest of the season as the two last contenders, Melbourne & Footscray, were both defeated in Perth .
The crowd at Moonee Valley was not over the top as it is on Cox Plate day and it was easy to get a good position on the fence - essential to the thrill associated with close proximity to the horses thundering past.
We arrived just after the second race on the cards, and I managed to recover the cost of admittance with a winner, Shadowmaker (pictured above), in the third race.
My fortunes varied over the afternoon and I ended up with 2 winners, 1 second and 1 third.
The most exciting race of the day was the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes where Apache Cat was pipped at the post by Lad of the Manor. Considering it was Apache Cat's first run at the Valley, he did very well, leading most of the way, only to be caught at the last minute. Lad of the Manor won this race last year, beating Makybe Diva by a similar margin.
In the photo above, Apache Cat is leading down the straight.
The feature race was a good one as well. I backed Miss Andretti , the winner, and she scored pretty easily. Some young man in the crowd around the fence said before the race "Miss Andretti hasn't a hope of winning!" I took that as a good omen and sure enough she won. The young man continued to make aspersions about her as the afternoon wore on and as he became more intoxicated.
Photo above is of Miss Andretti just after winning.
There was the usual cheerful atmosphere, which is something I've noticed at race meetings. Everyone appears to have fun, and are chatty and friendly.
Usually there are amazing costumes, but apart of the girls in their - unsuitable for the weather, considering it turned chilly later - flimsy dresses, the winner for the most outrageous costume was a young man in an extraordinary purple suit (seen above chatting to a policewoman).
I took quite a few photos and apart from those I've used here I've placed more on my Flickr site if you want to check them out.
All up it was a most enjoyable day and it was good to see at least one of my super stable racing in the flesh. Apache Cat is a handsome fellow. His name was inspired by the blaze on his head, which makes him look like an Indian pony.
Update on my stable.
I substituted two horses this week. Cats Fun and Ellicorsam are out, and Pompeii Ruler and El Segundo are in. The purchase of these two rather depleted my winnings, but Apache Cat's second placing and Paratroopers fourth (which still earns money) have raised it up a smidgeon. I figured at the time that substituting with quality was the way to go. We'll see how it fares.