Friday, April 08, 2011

Autumn Racing Carnival 2011 – Derby Day

Black Caviar

Yet another fine day of racing is scheduled tomorrow at Randwick, with three super Group One competitions on the cards.

The feature race is the AJC Australian Derby, but the star attraction of the day is Black Caviar having her first start in Sydney in the Group One TJ Smith Stakes. Now that she has been acknowledged in world rankings as the best sprinter in the world, she has become the pin up girl of the Australian turf and has the media in a frenzy. This is excellent for the Australian racing industry, as larger than usual crowds attend race meets where she is to run, all hoping to be part of the rare phenomenon that is Black Caviar.

Naturally she is expected to win the TJ Smith just as convincingly as she’s won all 11 of her races, despite the quite classy field assembled. Vying for second place will be Hay List, Crystal Lily (who has run second to the champ in her last two runs) and Shoot Out. Yes, Shoot Out is back after a long spell following his gruelling spring campaign. A favourite of mine, it’s good to see him back on the track.

The Derby (2400 metres) will by no means be an anti climax to the TJ Smith. Potential star of the turf, New Zealand colt Jimmy Choux will start firm favourite and deservedly so. The main opposition comes from Retrieve who ran second to Jimmy Choux in the Rosehill Guineas and sole filly Shamrocker who won the Australian Guineas and ran third in the Rosehill Guineas. The Bart Cummings colt I Think I Do could be a chance as could Anacheeva, though he has not shown any of the brilliance that won him the Caulfield Guineas in the spring.

Sandwiched between the TJ Smith and the Derby is the Group One Sires Produce Stakes, a race over 1400 metres for two year olds. It’s a sort of consolation prize for those didn’t qualify for the Golden Slipper. Smart Missile who did qualify for the Slipper, but was dramatically scratched at the barrier, was originally the hot favourite for this, being the only horse to have beaten Sepoy, but alas he has been scratched from the Sires Produce as well. Sepoy of course won the Golden Slipper achieving the rare Blue Diamond. Golden Slipper double. Whether Smart Missile would have made a difference to the Slipper result will forever remain a mystery.

But to get back to the likely victor of the Sires Produce Stakes, I rather fancy the Bart Cummings trained Do You Think, a very lightly raced up and comer who could become Bart’s next star ; a replacement for the similarly named So You Think, who will be having his first start in the UK shortly. Others worthy of consideration are well credentialed colts Helmet and Uate and fillies Elite Falls, Pane In The Glass and Shared Reflections.

However, nothing is certain in racing, as was exhibited last Saturday with long shot winners causing upsets in the BMW and the Vinery Stud Stakes, though More Joyous continued her run of wins in the Queen of the Turf, and of course Sepoy won the Slipper. Rangirandoo won the George Ryder Stakes, so not a surprise to see him back to his best. After all he won the Doncaster last year.

Update Saturday evening

Well, Black Caviar continued her winning streak in the TJ Smith, though at the closing stages of the race hearts were in mouths as Hay List dashed several lengths clear in the front, and it almost seemed that Black Caviar would be beaten. Sure she had to fight this time but she overtook him in a trice and went on to win by 2 1/2 lengths - another stunning performance from the best racehorse in the world.

I also should mention Shamrocker, the only filly in the Derby field, who won the event after fighting out the the finish with Retrieve with Anacheeva filling third spot.

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