As expected it was a long and tiring afternoon at the races last Saturday. Despite that, it was worth the cost of admittance with a plethora of interesting racing action.
I got to Caulfield early, in time to watch the first race in fact.
This was the Inglis Debutant Stakes, a race for two year olds over 1000 metres. All of the contestants were having their first start and the field was a mix of colts and fillies.
One of the fillies Missrock swooped from the back to win, defeating Pearl Congenial and Valiano by a length.
I’d got to Caulfield early ostensibly to see Lankan Rupee in the second race of the day, the Schillaci Stakes. He was expected to win and of course was the favourite at very short odds. As a rule there is no such thing as a certainty in horse racing and such was the case in the Schillaci Stakes. Lankan Rupee was beaten into third place by Alpha Miss and outsider Cashed.
He looked healthy and glowing in the flesh, but apparently there is something amiss with the horse, according to his trainer Mick Price, which was confirmed by his failure to stretch out in the closing stages of the race. His Spring campaign is now doubt, and possibly his racing career as well. How disappointing!
For most of the afternoon I chose to stay out of the crowded public lawn, and shoot my photos from the hill above the stalls area. Besides, the mounting yard was inaccessible to the public, being blocked off by the media, so mounting yard photos were out of the question.
It was much quieter in the stalls area, and easy to get photos of the main race contenders in their stalls.
Here’s a few of them.
The handy thing about staying on the hill was you could get shots of the horses going to and from the barriers.
Race 3 was the Thoroughbred Club Stakes for three year old fillies. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of the winner Serene Majesty, but she won quite well beating Secret Agenda and Harlem River by a couple of lengths.
After the Thoroughbred Club Stakes there were only two more races to run before the first of the Group 1 events.
The Weekend Hussler Stakes was the fourth on the program and was won by the Chris Waller trained Amovatio with favourite, The Bowler, running second, and Tristram’s Sun third.
For the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes I returned to the public lawn and snagged a good spot on the fence. This race for stayers is run over 2400 metres and grants the winner a spot in the Caulfield Cup.
Amralah was supposed to running on the pace, but stumbled at the start and raced towards the tail end of the field until about half way through the race, where he took over the lead from Bohemian Lily. From then on he dominated the running, putting three lengths on the rest of the field down the straight, to win by that margin from Excess Knowledge. Bohemian Lily hung on for third a further length away.
The abovementioned races were just tasters for the main events of the afternoon, and even though it was getting on for 4.00pm, the real action just beginning.
First up of the Group 1 events was the Caulfield Stakes. Kermadec was the favourite with Fawkner being highly fancied as well.
Here are photos of the field on their way to the barriers.
The race being run over 2000 metres, the barriers are set up just beyond the stalls area.
Criterion had just got out of quarantine on Saturday morning, and obviously took no harm from his travels, storming from the back of the field as they turned into the straight, and with Happy Trails beside him, surged to the lead and won by half a length with Mongolian Khan, who was blocked for clear running, flying home for third.
Fawkner, after racing up on the speed, faded to finish sixth. The hard track was blamed for his lack of zip at the finish. Kermadec managed to finish fourth.
The three main chances in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap came home true to form with Lucky Hussler beating Disposition by 1.25 lengths and Stratum Star running third.
In 2006 Miss Finland won the 1000 Guineas, and her daughter Stay With Me emulated her mum with a victory in the 2015 edition. She beat Jameka by almost two lengths and Badawiya ran third.
By the time the feature race was due to run, I had been at the course for five hours, and I must admit I was feeling somewhat tired. It had been a warm and humid day, but fortunately the threatened storm didn’t eventuate until the evening. In fact, the track would have benefitted from a shower of rain, for after a full afternoon of racing, the surface was very much on the firm side and the turf flattened. Several trainers complained about it on Sunday.
Anyway, finally the field for the feature Caulfield Guineas assembled in the pre parade ring and started making their way to the mounting yard.
The race resulted in a solid win for Press Statement and gave trainer Chris Waller yet another Group 1 victory. He also trained the winner of the Spring Champion Stakes in Sydney - Vanbrugh.
Lizard Island ran second in the Caulfield Guineas with Ready For Victory, taking third spot.
It had been a long day, so after the Caulfield Guineas I was only too pleased to make my weary way to the station, and thence home.
Next Saturday I’m going back to Caulfield for the Caulfield Cup. This will be the first time I’ve ever attended the event. The Caulfield Cup itself looks a doozy of a race, the classiest field in years according to the pundits. The support card is mildly interesting, and at least I can take my time getting to the racecourse, so it won’t be such a long and tiring afternoon as the Guineas.