Saturday in Melbourne was set aside for the qualifying laps of the Melbourne Grand Prix, not something I am interested in.
So eschewing the rev of hotted up motors echoing through the metropolis, I headed out to Flemington for the thunder of hooves, and to smell roses rather than fuel.
I got to the track early on a surprisingly crowded train, arriving around 12.40pm and stayed until the Australian Cup, which was run at 4.30pm. So it was a long day, but the time passed quickly as there was plenty of exciting racing action and pretty horses to view over the afternoon.
The title of this post refers to the winning doubles of jockeys Michael Walker and Joao Moreira who each rode one winner of the Group 1 races plus one other on the program.
And of course the roses were resplendent as you’d expect.
My arrival at the track was in plenty of time to watch race 2, the
MSS Security Stakes, wherein Brazilian born, Hong Kong hoop Joao Moreira booted home the first winner of his double. This happened to be 12/1 shot Pittsburgh Flyer, who I thought had no chance. My interests were centred on Earthquake and Sistonic. Earthquake ran a close second, but Sistonic finished second last and didn’t feature at all.
After watching the race I sauntered up to the stalls area to see if the Living Legends had arrived.
Both Zipping and Better Loosen Up were present, and lovingly attended to by the Living Legends staff.
Better Loosen Up will turn 30 on 29th August this year and was a champion of the turf in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is the only Australian bred horse to have won the prestigious Japan Cup which he did in 1990. He also won the 1990 Cox Plate, MacKinnon Stakes, and the 1991 Australian Cup as well as several other Group races. He was named Australian Horse of the Year for the 1990-1991 season.
The Living Legends were taken off for a walk in the mounting yard, so I cruised through the stable area to see which of the present stars of the turf had arrived.
Lankan Rupee was being hosed down by his strapper, and I got a lovely photo of him in the watering section of the stalls.
Alas, much as I hoped to see Lankan Rupee win the Newmarket Handicap, it wasn’t to be. Everyone was puzzled by his failure to run a place, but on Monday it was revealed that he had torn a muscle in his chest and was also displaying signs of inflammation in his stifles. This obviously happened during the race as he was over-racing in the early stages and pulling hard, then failed to produce his devastating sprint in the finish.
Returning track side, Race 3 was about to get underway. This was the Group 2 Sires Produce Stakes for two year olds run over 1400 metres.
Jameka was the favourite and she delivered a comfortable win for her backers, winning by a length from Lazumba with Sampeah,running third, three and a half lengths behind.
Back in the stalls more horses had arrived, among them Red Cadeaux.
Terravista was waiting patiently in his stall as well.
Brazen Beau, the eventual winner of the Newmarket Handicap was being walked in the parade ring. I got this great head shot of him.
Meanwhile, in the mounting yard, the Living Legends were grazing on the turf, whilst the CEO of Living Legends, Andrew Clarke, was interviewed on TVN about the organisation and the profiles of the equine special guests.
Race 4, the Group 2 Blamey Stakes run over 1600 metres was next on the agenda. Suavito, who spectacularly won the Group 1 Futurity Stakes two weeks ago was the hot favourite and she didn’t disappoint. After missing the start, she quickly moved up to take the lead and was never headed, winning by a length from Sertorius, with Kourkam running third.
Only one more race remained before the big two feature races were to run, this being the Group 2 Kewney Stakes, for three year old fillies over 1400 metres. As I had not had a bet all afternoon I was toying with the idea of putting a few dollars on Wawail, but thought better of it after noticing Michael Walker was riding her. He’d recently put in a few poor rides so didn’t inspire confidence.
How wrong I was. Wawail upstaged hot favourite Sabatini who was aiming for her third win in succession. Sabatini raced at the tail of the field and though she flew home, she was unable to reel in Wawail.
Though my heart was with Lankan Rupee in the Newmarket, my head or some strong intuition told me to put money on Brazen Beau, which I did. So I was delighted that he won, and like everyone else bemused by the performance of Lankan Rupee. He looked fine in the mounting yard as did all the others.
Chautauqua finished second and Terravista ran third, but they were blitzed by Brazen Beau who won by almost three lengths.
My photos of the Newmarket parade are really dark for some reason I can’t fathom, so I won’t be showing them in this post
The Australian Cup ended in a boilover with the unfancied Spillway winning the bikkies by a nose from the also unfancied Extra Zero, with the ever honest Happy Trails running third. Michael Walker proved me wrong again with his winning ride.
As expected The Cleaner led the field at a good pace and he managed to hang for fourth. Protectionist was never in it, but Red Cadeaux ran well and finished fifth.
The light was better for the Australian Cup parade, so here are photos of the main contenders.
The Australian Cup meeting is basically the last of the Group 1 racing for Melbourne in autumn, though the finale is the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley on the 27th March.
The focus of racing now shifts to Sydney for the so called Championships. Next weekend Rosehill will feature five Group 1 races including the Golden Slipper Stakes.
Speaking of the Sydney races, the Coolmore Classic resulted in an upset win by long shot Plucky Belle, who pipped favourite First Seal at the post. Diamond Drille ran third.
I’ll miss my Saturday afternoon outings to the races as I’m really only interested in attending the Group meetings. So I will be watching the action from Sydney at home from now on.