On Saturday morning there was a memorial service for Bart Cummings at Flemington Racecourse to honour the man and the mark he left on the history of Australian horseracing. It was an appropriate venue at which to hold the service considering the great trainer’s record of winning 12 Melbourne Cups.
The service was held mid morning, so I missed it, but was I pleased to get the service booklet that was handed out at entrance gate - a little slice of history to add to my collection of racing memorabilia.
Along with the above display of his cups, there was a walk of fame with signs detailing all twelve of Bart Cummings Melbourne Cup wins.
Also present for the occasion was Living Legend Rogan Josh who won the Melbourne Cup for Bart in 1999.
The trains were running pretty much in sync so I reached Flemington with plenty of time on hand to watch the first race, the Cap D’Antibes Stakes where the focus of interest was on unbeaten filly Petits Filous having her first run on the big track.
Petits Filous took to Flemington as if she’d been running there all her life and won in spectacular fashion, letting loose a devastating sprint in the straight and winning by 2.25 lengths being eased to the line. Super Cash was the runner up with Take Pride running third.
I missed watching the second race, having run into an acquaintance in the stalls area. We chatted as the race was run and observed Black Vanquish being frisky the walking ring.
I made it back trackside for the third race, the Pin & Win Stakes, a listed race for three year olds run over 1400 metres. I had a few dollars each way on Snoopy, but he had a hard race, where he was blocked for a run and also bumped in the process, which forced him back in the field. That pretty much describes my luck on the punt Saturday, no winners at all.
The race was won by another Ciaran Maher horse, Bon Aurum at big odds with Lizard Island running second and El Greco taking third.
As not many of the feature race runners had arrived in the stalls area, I decided to check out the newly opened Heritage Centre…
There were quite a few photographic displays, but in pride of place and lit up like the Holy Grail was the 1965 Melbourne Cup won by Light Fingers.
I also watched a short video on a wrap around screen on the history of the Melbourne Cup, narrated by Les Carlyon. It was quite moving and I must admit it made me misty eyed with sentiment.
Just near the top part of the Stalls area is Carbine’s stall, preserved for posterity.
I’ve walked past it many times but never gone inside.
This time I did, and viewed the display around the walls which details Carbine’s racing career and influence as a sire on Australian thoroughbred breeding. Carbine won the 1890 Melbourne Cup.
The field for Race 4, the Group 2 Danehill Stakes was assembling in the mounting yard when I made my way back to the front lawn.
Ready for Victory started as the favourite, but he only managed to run third, being caught on the inside behind a tiring Black Vanquish. Kinglike swept down the outside to overtake Raphael’s Cat, who had seized the lead, to win by 1.25 lengths.
Returning to the stalls area I discovered that most of horses I wished to photograph had finally arrived.
Here’s some shots of the leading Makybe Diva Stakes contenders.
Also, old Rogan Josh was hanging around outside his stall with a crowd of admirers giving him a pat and taking photos.
All this dallying almost made me miss Race 5 The Sofitel.
It was won by former Western Australian star Disposition for his new stable (Lee & Anthony Freedman), his first victory since coming from the West.
Akavaroun ran second with Pressing filling third place.
Having been on my feet for most of the afternoon, I decided it was time to go and get a drink and have a short rest. Whilst buying a beer in the bar, the Sheraco Stakes (in Sydney) was being broadcast on the screen and I was delighted to see Catkins win it for a second time. A big cheer greeted her win. She won by a good margin from Echo Girl with Bounding running third. James McDonald, who rode Catkins, declared after the race that she was his favourite mare and that he’d marry her if she were human.
Anyway it was getting on for the next race, the Bobbie Lewis Quality. Rich Enuff was at very good odds despite being favourite, so I invested a few dollars each way on him.
I had photographed him in his stall earlier…
…but only saw the mounting yard assembly from a distance, being engaged in conversation with the same acquaintance I chatted to earlier, who also had his money on the favourite.
The race was won by the underrated Churchill Dancer from Under The Louvre and Gregers.
Rich Enuff had every opportunity, but finished sixth. Where to now?
By the time the Makybe Diva Stakes was run, I’d been at the course for four hours.
The time slipped by swiftly so it didn’t feel that long and I’d not felt bored at any time.
There’s always a heightened excitement prior to a major race and I love the atmosphere it generates.
Here are some of the contenders in the mounting yard.
The race resulted in a blanket finish with six or seven horses strung out across the expansive Flemington track, with Fawkner winning by a neck from Rising Romance with Entirely Platinum a further neck behind in third place. Less than a length separated the first six across the line.
I stayed for Race 8 , the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes which was won by 2014 Thousand Guineas winner Amicus, who emphatically signalled that she was back in contention for further Group glory. Precious Gem and May’s Dream filled the minor places.
It had been a long day trackside. The weather was generally fine, except for a sprinkle of rain around midday; and I enjoyed the wide open spaces of Flemington getting plenty of exercise as a result. My few bets were all disastrous, seemingly putting the kiss of death on my selections. Hopefully my luck will change soon.
I missed watching the Golden Rose at the track, so watched the replay online when I got home. It was won by Exosphere from Speak Fondly and Sebring Sun.
Next week the racing is again at Caulfield, a low key meeting with the feature race being the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes.