The Australian Labour Party, hence the Government, may be in disarray, with Gillard & Rudd going hammer and tongs over the leadership of the party, but the racing scene this weekend is looking pretty good and far more interesting for me, than the political situation.
Three Group One races are on the cards at Caulfield tomorrow, with the feature race being the Blue Diamond Stakes, Melbourne’s answer to Sydney’s Golden Slipper Stakes; that is a race for two year olds for a healthy purse.
But first let us consider the Futurity Stakes (1400 metres). With Black Caviar out of the picture, the race is not a foregone conclusion on the part of one the contestants. There are a few likely chances, Cox Plate heroine Pinker Pinker for one, who is starting her autumn campaign tomorrow in this race. She has not previously won first up, but that doesn’t mean she can’t do it; she will have stiff competition from star New Zealander King Mufhasa who has a Group One win to his credit at Caulfield. Also in the picture is the classy Western Australian Playing God, who ran third to Black Caviar and Southern Speed in the Orr Stakes a fortnight ago. Three year old colt Adamantium may be out of his league, but may run a place with his light weight advantage and Glen Boss in the saddle.
The Oakleigh Plate, a sprint over 1100 metres is the second Group One on the program, and features top three year old Sepoy running his last race in Australia. It would be great if he could go out on a winning note, but he has lug a record weight for his age – 58kgs. Still, he is a big strong colt, and is all class – he has won 10 out of the 11 races he has contested, so has almost as good a record as Black Caviar considering his age. Bel Sprinter who shares the same sire (Bel Esprit) as Black Caviar, has plenty of ability and could easily give Sepoy some serious competition as could African Pulse who has won his last two races in style and has 6kg weight advantage over Sepoy. It’s nice to see Satin Shoes back on the track: she ran third to Sepoy in the Coolmore Classic in spring so may run a place again.
So on to the Blue Diamond Stakes. It’s a tough call this year with quite a number of chances. Last year Sepoy was the standout runner, but this year any number of the runners have won one or other of the preludes, previews and build up races. Samaready will start as deserved favourite after strongly winning her only two races by good margins, but Mama’s Choice, Armed For Action, General Rippa, The Travelling Man all have wins under their belts. Or there’s the very consistent filly Formidable and other runners up like Rusambo, not to mention No Looking Back, who won the two year old Magic Millions Classic only to be stripped of the win by a controversial upheld protest. It’s anybody’s guess who the 2012 Blue Diamond Stakes winner will be – anything could happen and generally does.
Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed who has returned this autumn with one win and a second (to Black Caviar) is the only mare in the Group Two Peter Young Stakes (formerly known as the St George Stakes), a race over 1800 metres. She has stiff competition from the likes of Manighar, who won at Caulfield a fortnight ago, and other imported stayers like Glass Harmonium , Mourayan, Cannon Ball, Lucas Cranach, Illo etc. Can this locally bred mare beat them again? I’ll be hoping she can.
The weather in Melbourne is going to be very hot tomorrow, plus 38C, so the track will be dead to good.
In Sydney however, slow to heavy tracks appear to be the norm, and such is the case at Rosehill tomorrow. The feature race is the Group Two Apollo Stakes (1400 metres) and has a fine field of the usual suspects including Rangirandoo, Shoot Out, Rain Affair, Centennial Park, Sacred Choice, Danleigh etc. They all contested the Expressway Stakes two weeks ago, with Rain Affair being the outstanding winner. Shoot Out acquitted himself well, running third behind Rain Affair and Centennial Park. That race was over 1200 metres, so the extra 200 metres in this race will be to his advantage, as Rain Affair has not run the distance previously. Anyway, it will be worth watching.
I hope to attend the Caulfield meeting tomorrow, braving the extreme heat in the hope of getting good photos of Sepoy, Southern Speed and Pinker Pinker and the winner of the Blue Diamond Stakes. I’ll kind of miss the Black Caviar Cheer Squad, which was great fun while it lasted, so I’ll be back to being a free agent. I have a free admittance ticket which I picked up at the Blue Diamond Stakes Draw on Tuesday, so that’s one less expense. Besides I’ve never been to the Blue Diamond Stakes before, so despite the heat I’m sure it will be a great day of racing and hopefully not too distressful for the equine contestants.