As I expected, it was a very long afternoon at Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday, but as the racing was first class and full of interest it passed quite quickly.
I got to Caulfield rather earlier than I anticipated and was able to watch the first race from the hill above the parade ring. It was a race for two year olds having their first start and is appropriately called the Debutant Stakes.
Here’s a photo of the finish just past the winning post, with Of The Brave winning by a comfortable margin. He’s by Starspangledbanner out of Runaway Jesse and is a half brother to the talented filly, Eloping.
Whilst I was in the neighbourhood of the stalls, I naturally checked out the horses who had already arrived. These included several of the International stayers here for the Cups.
Also already present was 2014 Blue Diamond winner Earthquake…
…and 2013 Golden Slipper winner Overreach.
As race 2, the Thoroughbred Club Stakes was the next race on the agenda, I made my way to the public lawn to see if I could squeeze in on the fence. Festive race goers had spread their blankets all over the place, and seemed more interested in eating and drinking than watching the races, so it was easy to get a spot on the fence.
As Earthquake started at really short odds, and would have been my pick had I decided to back her, I didn’t bother with a bet, and watched the fillies file out onto the track.
Earthquake proved that she was not a spent force. Racing on the speed just outside race leader Tawteen, she managed to overhaul her in the straight to win by a length with More Radiant running third.
With that race done and dusted I ambled back to the stalls area for some tranquil horse watching, which is much more to my taste than watching the raucous partying patrons
Various contenders for the Group 1 races to come were parading, most notably the eventual Caulfield Stakes winner, Fawkner.
Commanding Jewel was also being walked…
…and Rubick was waiting patiently in his stall…
Race 3 was the Weekend Hussler Stakes, so I decided to watch it from the hill.
Hosting was one of the few back markers to win on the day, as most of the winners raced on the pace. Taddei Tondo ran second with Tango’s Daughter third.
Hosting’s win was the second of three consecutive wins for jockey Kerrin McEvoy (he was also Earthquake’s jockey).
Kerrin rode Rubick to victory in the next race, the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes.
For that race I made my way back to the public lawn, pausing in the Bookies area to place my first bet of the day on Rubick, who was at reasonably good odds of $4.50 to win.
Overreach started as the favourite, but was outsprinted by Rubick who led through most of the race, and won by a length from Platelet who rocketed into second place, relegating Overreach to third spot.
I took some photos of the contestants as they passed by on their way to the barriers.
I was delighted with Rubick’s win, as it’s always encouraging to have one’s first bet a winner. His win, and Earthquake’s before that, reminded me of the first time I saw these two youngsters on Orr Stakes day in February winning their respective Blue Diamond preludes – kind of Deja Vu.
The Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes was the next race on the program and I was interested to see how the Internationals would perform in their first try on Australian racetracks.
They are a handsome bunch, beautifully turned out, with manes plaited as was the case with Lord Van Percy.
The winner of the race was imported French horse Big Memory who held off a determined Signoff and fast finishing Let’s Make Adeal to win by a half a length. It almost looked like Let’s Make Adeal was going to win, but she ran out of time at the finish. It was however her best run for ages. I had my money (for a win) on Sangster and Protectionist, but they finished out of the places, Protectionist finishing a close fourth.
As the races during Spring are now 35 minutes apart it was not long to wait for the first of the Group 1 races on the program. The quality packed field of the Caulfield Stakes came out onto the track as I regained my position on the fence, after placing a bet on Fawkner who was at good odds of $5.50.
It was a beautifully judged ride by Nick Hall on Fawkner to take out the Caulfield Stakes. Fawkner raced up on the pace in third spot on the fence for most of the race and peeled out in the straight to take the lead from Side Glance. Criterion raced from mid field to steal second place, and Sacred Falls came from last to finish fourth.
Fawkner’s next assignment is the Cox Plate. He won the Caulfield Cup last year, but will not compete in it this year. He is the new favourite for the Cox Plate, since the previous favourite, Dissident, had an unfortunate bleeding attack during the Caulfield Stakes that has ruled him out of the rest of the spring carnival.
This post is turning into a marathon effort, but by the time the second of the Group 1 events, the Toorak Handicap, I had been at the course for almost four hours, with another hour to go before heading home.
The Toorak Handicap was won by Trust In A Gust, his third win in succession, with Speediness running second and rank outsider Desert Jeuney filling third spot. I had a small win bet on both Commanding Jewel (at great odds of $11.00) and Arabian Gold. Neither managed to place.
I will admit that by the end of the Toorak Handicap, I was feeling a tad wearied and wondering if I had the stamina to last till the Caulfield Guineas.
The crowds had thinned by the time the Thousand Guineas got underway. My bet for this was Afleet Esprit who had won her last three races over shorter distances. Perhaps the 1600 metres was beyond her, for she finished second last. The Group 1 glory went to Amicus who beat Traveston Girl with Sabatini running third. The favourite Lumosty finished eighth after being slow to start and racing at the back end of the field for the majority of the race. The three place getters raced on the speed, typical of the pattern of racing on the day.
Fortunately it was a pleasant afternoon weatherwise, warm and slightly overcast, so excellent for photographs.
And finally, after a long day at the track, the feature race time was nigh.
Here are some of the main contenders on their way to the starting gates. Rich Enuff went the other way round, so I failed to get a photograph of him.
It was a race in the end between the top Melbourne colt and the top Sydney colt, with Rich Enuff and Shooting to Win fighting out the finish down the straight several lengths in front of the rest.
Shooting To Win prevailed and won by a neck to Rich Enuff who was far from disgraced. It was shades of Redoute’s Choice and Testa Rossa way back in 1999 who fought out a similar battle down the straight with Redoute’s Choice being the victor by a similar margin.
Outsider Wandjina ran third.
As I didn’t have a bet on the race, my fancy being Rich Enuff who started short priced favourite, I didn’t linger much longer at the racetrack and headed for the station and home, with almost as much money as I started out with, my two winning bets covering the losses with a bit extra to buy a drink and a race book.
Next Saturday is the Caulfield Cup, but I am not attending it, saving myself for the Cox Plate the following weekend and the Flemington carnival thereafter.
I am however going to a few concerts next week – Lindi Ortega at the Toff In Town on Sunday evening and Ryan Bingham at Northcote Social Club on Tuesday night, both of which shows I’m keenly looking forward to.