Monday, February 10, 2014

Sizzling Racing Action – Orr Stakes Day Review

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Earthquake on her way to the barriers prior to winning the fillies Blue Diamond Prelude

When I walked into Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday morning, the first thing I saw was a bunch of people dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not really appropriate dress for the day you would think, but apparently they were part of the entertainment arranged for children.  There were also pony rides and carousels, which were not much of interest to this older person.

I arrived in plenty of time to watch Race 3, the Autumn Stakes. Unfortunately Polanski was scratched owing to a skin infection, so favouritism reverted to Sydney colt Rock Hero.  I rather fancied Thunder Fantasy, though didn’t have a bet on the race. I should have followed my fancy as Thunder Fantasy won the race comfortably from Rock Hero with Late Charge taking third spot.

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Thunder Fantasy in the mounting yard

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Autumn Stakes finish – Thunder Fantasy leads from Rock Hero down the straight.

The relentless sunshine meant that the light was not ideal for taking photographs, so I am surprised at how well my pictures turned out. I was expecting shadows and high contrast, but the balance is quite good overall.

The Kevin Hayes Stakes was the next race on the agenda, so I headed to the stalls and parade area to view the fillies. I was most interested in Shamalia who was parading shortly after I arrived at the scene.

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Shamalia parading before the Kevin Hayes Stakes

I watched the race from the hill above the parade ring. Both Shamalia and Bound For Earth (who started favourite) finished unplaced, running fourth and fifth respectively. Spirits Dance narrowly won from Marianne with outsider Patricia Dawn running third.

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Race 4 finish – just past the winning post – Spirits Dance leads.

Owing to the heat of the day, the interval between races was shortened to 30 minutes, so it wasn’t long before the first of the highly anticipated  Blue Diamond Preludes, the fillies edition, was to run.

I headed back to the lawn and the mounting yard, intending to grab a good position on the fence to watch the parade and take photos. Actually it was very easy to get good viewing spots as the heat was quite intense and discouraged the crowd from venturing out in it, unless they had some shade to shelter under.

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Top Dolly

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Earthquake looked cool as a cucumber, completely unfazed and relaxed in the mounting yard and certainly proved she was a cut above her rivals winning the fillies Prelude with consummate ease, scoring by almost three lengths to Eloping in second place with Lumosty running a further three lengths third.  Earthquake has the same look and attitude that characterises top class fillies and mares like Guelph and Atlantic Jewel. She appears to be the real deal.

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Down the straight in the fillies Blue Diamond Prelude- Earthquake romping to the finish line.

In contrast to the relaxed Earthquake, star colt Rubick was fractious in the mounting yard, bucking and kicking and was so unmanageable …

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Rubick playing up in the mounting yard

… that he was ridden onto the track early.

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Rubick on his way early to the barriers.

The other young fellows were well behaved and paraded without incident.

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Rubick, like Earthquake started hot favourite and didn’t disappoint, winning the colts Prelude in dashing style after a much harder run than Earthquake had to endure. Interestingly, the time for both the fillies and colts Preludes was exactly the same to the second - 1:03.71.

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Down the straight in the colts & geldings Prelude – Rubick  leads the pack

Jabali ran second with Chivalry scoring third spot. Nostradamus, cursed with a wide barrier, made up ground late to run fourth.

The Blue Diamond Stakes, to be run in a fortnight, looks like it will be a first class race, with both Earthquake and Rubick to be joined by Nayeli and other classy runners.  Earthquake is back to being favourite, her Prelude win being considered the better of the two.

I didn’t watch the next race, the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes, a sprint over 1100 metres. The favourite, Lankan Rupee won by over three lengths from Iconic with First Command four lengths third.

While that race was running, I was in the stalls area checking out Chris Waller’s contingent…

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Foreteller enjoying a groom from his strapper

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Hawkspur communing with his strapper

Arinosa posing with her strapper for this photo

Throughout the afternoon, 2009 Orr Stakes winner Maldivian was being paraded. Maldivian also won the 2008 Cox Plate and was famously scratched at the barrier in the 2007 Caulfield Cup, after he reared and hit his head. Rugby League star Billy Slater was riding him around at one point advertising Relaxed Racing and almost fell off at one stage when Maldivian reared up playfully.

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Maldivian with (unfortunately headless) Billy Slater

Maldivian led out the Orr Stakes field as well.

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Maldivian leading out the Orr Stakes field.

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The winner – Moment of Change

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Shamus Award

On Saturday only six horses contested the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes with Sertorius being scratched early Saturday because of the heat. So the race was a pretty relaxed run affair. Moment of Change took the lead early in the race with Shamus Award running in second spot, slightly ahead of Eurozone. The rest were spread out and only began to bunch up in the straight.  Moment of Change increased his lead in the straight, and Shamus Award who was tossing his head around and wanting to lay in, was passed by Eurozone who rapidly closed on Moment Of Change but just couldn't quite catch him. It was a victory for the Peter Moody/Luke Nolen team again, and Moment of Change’s first win since he took out the 2012 Rupert Clarke Stakes, though he has been consistently placed in quality races, running second behind the likes of Buffering and Black Caviar.

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Orr Stakes finish down the straight – Moment of Change leads with Eurozone overtaking Shamus Award.

I stayed for the final race on the cards, the Group 3 Bellmaine Stakes for mares over 1200 metres. mostly because I wanted to see Arinosa in action. I’ve been following her for a while, another pretty grey mare trained by Chris Waller.

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Arinosa in the mounting yard

By the time this race was run the heat had intensified and the sun was scorching as we waited on the fence. Thankfully it was the last race.  It was won by the Peter Moody trained A Time For Julia from Danestroem and Bonaria. Arinosa never had a hope being caught behind a wall of horses, and finished at the tail of the field.

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Bellmaine Stakes finish down the straight – A Time For Julia is about to overtake Danestroem.

The early start to the racing program was a good idea. It was hot all day, but only got intolerable at the end. Horse welfare was obviously catered to, as ready supplies of water were everywhere in the stalls area, and I didn’t witness any distressed horses.

There was a good crowd in attendance, but not over the top, and a great many children. The only loutish behaviour I saw, was a nitwit, who threw his friend’s shoe over the fence onto the track before the Orr Stakes. It was retrieved by security and returned to its owner.

Though it was hot, I survived my day at the races alright and was glad I had made the effort to attend. It was worth it to see Earthquake and Rubick in action.

In Sydney, the Expressway Stakes was taken out by Appearance. Boban was very disappointing and finished unplaced, but the race was probably too short for him, as he tends to race at the tail of the field and swoop late.

Next Saturday the racing is at Flemington and the feature race is the Group One Black Caviar Lightning. The weather will be much more pleasant and possibly even with showers of rain. It hasn’t rained in Melbourne for weeks, so the rain will be welcome.

A final photo is one that I found  amusing – a bloke towing a bag with a tiny pony on a lead following behind.


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