Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Derby Day Review

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Derby finish – Craig Newitt jubilant aboard Tarzino just past the post

While killing time waiting for the running of the 2015 Melbourne Cup, here’s a review of my day at the races last Saturday.

The weather on Derby Day started out grim and dismal with heavy clouds and occasional showers of rain, so I didn’t bother with sun screen, thinking the afternoon would be as forecast – humid and overcast with rain and a thunderstorm.

How wrong I was. I ended up sunburnt as the afternoon progressed into bright sunshine, typical of Melbourne weather – two or three seasons in one day.

I arrived at Flemington just before 12.00 pm to be greeted by hordes of partying patrons, the girls in their backless frocks and ridiculous fascinators and the guys in a variety of costumes. A group dressed as Minions clustered in a group near the Clock Tower.

Actually it wasn’t all that crowded, you could at least move around freely without stumbling over picnic blankets, though getting a drink was a lengthy affair.

Not many of the horsey stars had arrived when I headed to the stalls area, but I found Exosphere in his stall, looking handsome and relaxed.

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Next to him was his stable mate Mogador, also a handsome devil.

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The fillies who were to compete in Race 2, the Wakeful Stakes eventually emerged to parade in the walking ring.

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Dawnie Perfect

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My Poppette

Returning to the front lawn to watch the race, it was easy to get my favourite position by the walkway from the mounting yard to the track.

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Mounting yard gate

The Wakeful Stakes was won easily by Ambience from Beluga Blue and Muzyka.

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Ambience returns to scale after winning the Wakeful Stakes

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Beluga Blue

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Both Ambience and Muzyka will meet again with 10 other fillies on Thursday to contest the Group 1 Crown Oaks.

Race 3 was the Group 3 Guvera Stakes and Disposition was the warm favourite. He won narrowly from San Diego with Hosting three lengths back running third.

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Disposition returns to scale after winning the Guvera Stakes

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San Diego

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The Coolmore Stud Stakes was the first of the Group 1 races on the program as Race 4. Exosphere was short odds favourite to win, but he disappointed and ended up finishing fourth.

I got some lovely photos of him in the parade ring when he paused just in front of me to await his turn in the parade line (they parade in numerical order)

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Exosphere in the parade ring

The Chris Waller trained Japonisme won at long odds, being totally overlooked in the betting.

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Japonisme in the parade ring

For this race I found a really good spot tucked in front of an enclosure with a good view of the straight and winning post, where I hoped to get photos of horses returning to scale without the rail impeding the shot.

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Coolmore Stud Stakes – just past the winning post

Japonisme won by 1½ lengths from Keen Array and Counter Attack.

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Exosphere (inside) and Keen Array return to scale

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Counter Attack returns to scale

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Japonisme returns to scale


Just watched the Melbourne Cup and what an amazing result! Prince of Penzance did the locals proud and Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to ride a Melbourne Cup winner. Max Dynamite ran second and Criterion ran third. Prince of Penzance paid $74 (UTB) for the win. A pity I didn’t have any money on him.

Anyway back to Saturday…

We, that is my fellow photographer Rebecca and I, stayed in the same spot for the next few races in between returning to the stalls area, until we were turfed out by a security guy, who said we weren’t allowed to stand there.  God knows why, as we weren’t impeding anyone’s view, but I suppose they regarded the spot as private property – on a public lawn?

Back in the stalls several more of the main contenders had arrived, so I got some nice photos of a few of them

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West Australian Derby contender Kia Ora Koutou

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Ready For Victory

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A rose for Rising Romance

The Group 2 Lexus Stakes was up next so we returned trackside to observe the runners leaving the mounting yard, then went to the prime spot on the far eastern side of the course.

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The handsome Excess Knowledge on his way to the barriers stalls

Excess Knowledge earned himself a spot in the Melbourne Cup with his win in the Lexus Stakes with Zanteca running second and Havana Cooler third.

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Excess Knowledge returns to scale after winning the Lexus Stakes

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Havana Cooler

The second of the four Group 1 races was up next, the Mackinnon Stakes and the French horse, Gailo Chop paid his fare to Australia by winning narrowly from Rising Romance and Contributer.

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Mackinnon Stakes – just past the post

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Gailo Chop returning to scale after winning the Mackinnon Stakes

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Rising Romance on her way to the starting gates

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Contributer on his way to the starting gates

Just after the finish of the Mackinnon Stakes we were forced to move from our prime position. Not to worry, we waited for the nearby racecourse crossing access gate to be closed, and amusedly observed various preening racegoers posing for photographs in the middle of the racecourse.

Tarzino  defied the favourites hoodoo in the Derby winning easily by two lengths from Etymology with Kia Ora Koutou six lengths behind running third.

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Tarzino returns to scale after winning the Victoria Derby

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Kia Ora Katou

As I intended to go home after the running of the Myer Classic, the final Group 1 race on the program, we moved back to the stalls area to view the mares parading before the race and leaving the mounting yard for the track.

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Politeness, the Myer Classic winner in the parade ring

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Fenway leaving the mounting yard for the track

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Azkadellia – third place runner on her way to the barriers

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Royal Descent in the parade ring

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Stay With Me returns to scale

Royal Descent started as favourite, and the race was expected to be a match between the classy older mare and upstart filly Stay With Me.

Neither featured in the finish.

Politeness won her first Group 1 race, and Fenway was runner up
¾ length behind her. Azkadellia grabbed third place ahead of May’s Dream.

The light by this time was getting bad for photos and I’d been at the racecourse for almost five hours, so I called it quits and headed for the station. Thankfully it only took 40 minutes to get home this time.

I’ve been writing this post all afternoon and evening, with various distractions like the Melbourne Cup making it seem like a marathon.

I’m looking forward to the Oaks meeting on Thursday as the final field has been decided and it looks a really interesting race with classy fillies like Jameka, Sacred Eye and Ambience going head to head.

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