This is the first chance I have had to report on my day at the races last Saturday, other stuff like website updates occupying my time for the past few days.
Flemington was very easy to get to via two trains and the station is directly outside the racetrack. It’s the biggest racetrack in Melbourne, and the famous straight is certainly a very long one. It was good to be back there after an hiatus of 40 or so years, and give it a look over in relatively uncrowded conditions. But I must admit, having over the past month attended all three of Melbourne’s race tracks, Caulfield is now my favourite.
Why? Well, at Flemington you can’t take photographs from the fence, of horses running down the straight because there is a rail impeding the view, whereas at both Caulfield and Moonee Valley the track fences are low enough to afford an excellent view.
So, at Flemington on Saturday, I could only get good photos of the horses from the chute leading into the mounting yard or of the mounting yard itself. Still it gives one a different viewpoint, so expect to see most of my photos in this post depicting winners returning to scale, or in the mounting yard.
I arrived at the track just in time to watch the first race, the Talindert Stakes where Black Caviar’s little half brother All Too Hard emulated his big sister by winning by a couple of lengths from At The Tap and Timely Truce.
After that I went in search of the Cheer Squad area and found it easily. It was tucked up against the mounting yard, a prime position as usual.
It was a hot and sunny day and the cheer squad area offered no shade, so I was glad that I had slathered myself with sun screen before setting out, so I didn’t end up sunburnt at all.
Race 2 was the Gurner’s Lane Handicap run over 2000 metres. It was won by long shot Cheviot Beach, with Prizum and Persian Star filling the minor placings.
Under The Hat won the next race, from Chasse and Over Quota
The first Group race of the day was race 4 the Group 3 Vanity Stakes for 3 year old fillies. Mosheen was the obvious pick and started as short odds favourite. She’s a very pretty, dainty little thing…
…but alas, was pipped at the post by Shopaholic.
Helmet was the hot favourite in the Group 3 C S Hayes Stakes, but was beaten into fifth place, the race being taken out by That’s The One.
And then it was the build up to the Lightning Stakes. The course by this time was pretty crowded, but as Flemington is such a big course, it wasn’t squashy. The usual array of Black Caviar flags, signs and apparel were all over the place.
Apache Cat and Silent Witness paraded before the rest of the field came out, Apache Cat being his usual ratbag self trying to graze on the turf, and throwing a wobbly later on. He is quite a character.
All the others were perfectly behaved. Hay List was one of the first out, and as the race proved, is back to his best. He certainly challenged Black Caviar, sticking with her to the end and only being defeated by 1¾ lengths.
Hay List in the mounting yard
The race was a bobby dazzler, run at a cracking pace and Black Caviar prevailed as mentioned before, bringing up her 19th win in succession and 9th Group One. She was only .03 of a second off the course record set by Special in 1988. As an aside, I remember Special very well. She was a very special mare, who ran and won races whilst she was with foal, I recall. That sort of thing wouldn’t happen these days.
Black Caviar has been nominated for the Group One Futurity Stakes next Saturday. Apparently she recovered remarkably well from her energetic Lightning run, so Peter Moody is considering running her three weeks in a row. Whether this eventuates is yet to be decided. If so, the Cheer Squad will be back at Caulfield next weekend, where the feature race is the Group One Blue Diamond Stakes.
Speaking of the Blue Diamond Stakes, I went along today to the Barrier Draw, which took place in the City Square. The Black Caviar Cheer Squad were invited to attend for some media event. Only a few turned up, and it fizzled.
However, it was quite an entertaining event notwithstanding, with a sausage sizzle, a photo booth where you could get a photo of yourself with a virtual Black Caviar, giveaways, like a Black Caviar poster, free admittance tickets to Caulfield next Saturday and a raffle for a diamond and sapphire necklace.
The Carlton & United Breweries wagon, drawn by four Clydesdales was there as well and was an impressive sight. The huge placid beasts are quite a contrast to the streamlined thoroughbred racehorses.
Black Caviar was not among the acceptances for the Futurity Stakes. Peter Moody has decided to send her for a break, in preparation for her eventual trip to Royal Ascot in June. She will probably have one more run in Australia prior to that, in Adelaide or Brisbane.
Melbourne has certainly been spoiled, having had the opportunity of seeing her run her last 6 races in this city, though many people have travelled from interstate to experience the thrill of being part of the Black Caviar phenomenon.
Despite her non appearance at Caulfield next Saturday, I still may attend as Sepoy will be having his last run in Australia in the Oakleigh Plate and I’d like to be there for that, and of course the Blue Diamond Stakes.