The sizzling heat of the extended Melbourne summer didn’t affect the equally sizzling race card at Flemington yesterday. My goodness, the Melbourne racing season has been classic all through, and yesterday’s meeting was right up there with the Lightning Stakes and Blue Diamond in terms of great racing spectacles.
There was a dead heat for first in the Group Two Blamey Stakes, between Budriguez and Puissance de Lune, an upset win in the Newmarket Handicap by the lightly weighted Shamexpress, and three year old colt Super Cool rocketed into elite company by winning the Australian Cup.
I arrived at Flemington just in time to witness the running of Race 3 the Group Two Sires Produce Stakes. Twilight Royale triumphed over Shamus Award and Great Esteem.
The Blamey Stakes was the next race up, so I went and put a bet on Puissance de Lune and hung around the mounting yard, waiting for the parade, keen to catch a glimpse of the early Melbourne Cup favourite.
As you can see, he is a lovely looking grey horse and boy, can he run. He’s even better over longer distances, so watch for him in the spring.
It looked as if Budriguez would steal the show, as they flashed past down the straight, but Puissance de Lune lunged at the line and it came down to a dead heat, the photo finish being so close the stewards had no option but to call it a draw. There was a long wait while all this was being decided.
Both horses had a turn at wearing the winners rug and the presentation with all the owners of both horses crowded the rostrum.
After collecting my winnings on Puissance de Lune, I reinvested some on the hot favourite for the next race, none other than Norzita.
Norzita was pipped at the post by long shot Flying Snitzel, who rocketed from the back of the field to steal the race.
The first of the feature races, the Newmarket Handicap, was next on the agenda.
I watched the parade and photographed several of the contestants.
Moment of Change was the warm favourite, but he was denied victory by three year old Shamexpress.
The two West Australian sprinters, Luckygray and Barakey were outclassed, finishing 8th and 11th. Perhaps they were daunted by Flemington’s big long straight.
I had my money on Barakey again, so no wins there.
The Australian Cup is a great race, and yesterday’s version was a beauty. It is normally won by a tried and true weight for ager and three year olds have not won for many years, the last being Saintly in 1996.
Super Cool and Fiveandahalfstar first clashed in the Victoria Derby last spring with Fiveandahalfstar being the victor on that occasion. It’s quite rare to see Derby winners back in winning form in the autumn. The Derby can be the kiss of death, as many Derby winners fail to win ever again, though of course there are exceptions and these exceptions turn into champion stayers and middle distance runners.
I’ve seen Super Cool race three times and each time he has won. I had a small wager on him in the Australian Cup and he delivered at reasonable odds. The two colts went to the line together, Super Cool winning by a short margin. Old stayer Tanby ran third.
Anyway here’s some photos of the main contestants in the Australian Cup.
Flemington wasn’t all that crowded yesterday. Compared to the numbers that attended the Lightning Stakes meeting it was half full. I didn’t mind at all as it was easy to find a spot on the fence to watch the races, buy a drink or put on a bet. It was extremely hot of course, but one could find shady spots to sit in and study the form.
I’ve decided I quite like Flemington after all. It’s a very attractive racecourse with wonderful architectural features, and the masses of roses everywhere are gorgeous.
God willing I will attend super Saturday again next year.
There is only one more Group One race in Melbourne to be run this autumn, before the focus shifts to the Sydney autumn racing season. The William Reid Stakes, starring Black Caviar is scheduled for Friday night on 22nd March. I’ll be there of course, despite the ridiculous timing of the main race at 9.45pm.
Speaking of the Sydney racing scene, it was great to see my old favourite Shoot Out take out his second consecutive Chipping Norton Stakes at Warwick Farm yesterday.