It’s almost the end of the Melbourne Autumn racing carnival, and Flemington Racecourse hosts two excellent Group One races on Saturday, for the penultimate meeting of the season. The William Reid Stakes on Friday evening of 23rd March is the last Group One of Melbourne’s autumn racing, and then the focus shifts interstate to Sydney.
You can tell Black Caviar is still on holidays, as the Group One Newmarket Handicap, a sprint over 1200 metres, has attracted an almost full field of 23 runners. Hay List gets his chance to prove he is the second best sprinter in the world in this race. He is not without competition however, with Sydney sprinter Rain Affair, who has won his last nine races, running for the first time in Melbourne and sure to be competitive. As will Woorim, who won the Oakleigh Plate at long odds just a fortnight ago. King’s Rose is making her first appearance since Spring, and never runs a bad race, so too Albert The Fat who beat her in the Emirates Stakes back then. Beaded cannot be overlooked either as she returned to racing after nearly a year off with a fine second to Steps In Time back in February. So, lots of chances in what will be a fascinating race.
The Australian Cup (2000 metres) has 4 imported and 4 locally bred stayers in the field. Americain makes a welcome return to the track in this race. He is now in the care of David Hayes, so is having his first start for the stable. He is of course one of the top chances in the race, but will have to contend with the likes of Illo, Manighar and Glass Harmonium who recently contested the Peter Young Stakes and finished in the above order after Lucas Cranach who has been scratched due to injury. Southern Speed ran fifth on that occasion, but she has excuses as she apparently didn’t cope well with the intense heat that day. It will be much cooler next Saturday, and the track will most likely be rated dead, so she has to be considered as one of the top chances. Dear old Efficient may be running his last race, as his owner has stated that if Efficient doesn’t show improvement, he will be retired.
There are other races of interest at Flemington other than the two feature races. Black Caviar’s little half brother All Too Hard, is contesting the Group Two Sire’s Produce Stakes against a field of classy two year olds that include Blue Diamond runners, Jimando, Rusambo, Mama’s Choice etc. It will be worth watching to see how he performs.
Soggy Warwick Farm in Sydney hosts the other Group One race of the day. It’s the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600 metres) and has the exciting prospect of Shoot Out and Pinker Pinker going head to head. Shoot Out ran second to Rain Affair in his last start, so is due for a win, and Pinker Pinker is running second up after being narrowly defeated by King Mufhasa in the Futurity Stakes and is purported to have an excellent second up record in terms of wins. Main dangers to the two main chances are Herculian Prince, Danleigh, and Sacred Choice, always a good bet if the track is heavy, which it is certain to be after heavy rain fell in Sydney this week.
The races will be on free to air TV this weekend, so that takes care of my Saturday afternoon. This time last year I was at Port Fairy Folk Festival, but I’m not attending it this year.
Hay List narrowly won the Newmarket from Buffering with colt Foxwedge running third. It was a grand effort on Hay List’s part carrying a top weight of 58.5.
The Australian Cup was also a close call with Manighar pipping Southern Speed at the post. Americain ran third after running too far back to be in contention in the finish, though another 200 metres would have had him winning.
I was delighted to see Shoot Out win the Group One Chipping Norton Stakes. He certainly looked back to his best, winning by two lengths from stable mate Danleigh.
And All Too Hard was sensational winning the Sires Produce Stakes; could be a star like his big sister Black Caviar, judging by that run.