Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Last Roses of Summer - The End of the Carnival

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Resplendent roses hedge the straight in front of the finish line

In the four years since I have been attending the races at Flemington in autumn, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the famous roses in such profuse bloom. They looked magnificent, but unfortunately obscured the view of the mounting yard, and as mentioned previously, the horses in their stalls.

For this last day of Flemington’s mini racing carnival, I arrived early in the afternoon, obliged in fact by the train service from the city which cut out at 1.00pm.

As I stepped off the train and made my way to the public lawn, Race 1, the Group 3 Thoroughbred Breeders Plate, had just been run and won. I was pleased to hear that the winner was Augusta Proud’s daughter Thyme for Roses, who made her mother proud with an easy win after two unsuccessful starts this season.

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Thyme for Roses poses for photos in the mounting yard

She came in at good odds of 10/1 beating Emphatically and Soviet Secret.

It was therefore a long afternoon, but the weather was reasonably kind, overcast though muggy and the crowds weren’t large.

There was some sort of food and wine festival going on in the upper lawn area. Curiously, the Kids’ Zone was in the same spot, no doubt so mums and dads could sample the wares and keep an eye on their off spring at the same time.

Anyway, it made that part of the lawn almost impassable, so when traversing from the winning post to the stalls, it was easier (and faster) to go around the back way via the Bookie’s Ring.

Thence I went after taking the above photo of Thyme for Roses to see who had arrived.

Apache Cat was the Living Legends special guest, but though I caught  glimpses of him, I somehow failed all afternoon to get a photo of him.  Not to worry, I have plenty of photos of him I’ve taken at other times.

I didn’t take all that many photos of the horsey stars in their stalls, the overabundant roses being somewhat off putting after a while, though my photographer friend George as usual was far more dedicated than me at getting shots of all the runners in the two feature races.

Here’s the few I managed to get good photos of…

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Black Heart Bart

chautauqua 3

japonisme 1

preferment 2

suavito 1

Returning trackside to the rose hedge free gate just past the winning post, where you can get a diagonal view of the winning post, race 2, the Group 2 Sire’s Produce Stakes, was about to start. It’s a race for two year olds over 1400 metres.

It was won by Seaburge from Detective and Revolving Door.

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Seaburge (inside) wins the Sires Produce Stakes

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Seaburge returns to scale

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Detective returns to scale

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Revolving Door returns to scale

Somehow or other I killed time between the races either hanging out in the stalls area or mooching around on the public lawn, so there’s not much to report activity wise.

Race 3 was a sprint, the Listed Goodwood Racecourse Trophy over 1100 metres for three year olds.

The favourite was Brockhoff, but he finished out of the placings. A filly, Super Cash won the prize, beating longshots Sooboog and Stellar Collision by half a length.

As is often the case with sprints down the spacious Flemington straight, the field split into two sections, a group racing on the inside of the track, the rest racing down the grandstand side, which rather stymies one’s shots when shooting the finish.

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Super Cash returns to scale after winning the Goodwood Racecourse Trophy

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Sooboog returns to scale

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Stellar Collision returns to scale

The next race was the Group 2 Blamey Stakes, a race over 1600 metres.

Stratum Star started as favourite, and managed to run third behind He Or She and The United States.

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He or She (yellow blinkers) wins the Blamey Stakes from The United States (inside) and Stratum Star (red blinkers)

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He or She returns to scale after winning the Blamey Stakes

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The United States on his way to the barriers

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Stratum Star on his way to the barriers

After the Blamey Stakes, there was only one more race before the first of the two features, the Newmarket Handicap, was scheduled to run.

Race 5 was another Group 2 race, the Kewney Stakes for three year old fillies run over 1400 metres.

As had been the pattern all afternoon, the favourite, in this case Catch A Fire, failed to win or even run a place. 

Badawiya, fresh from a spell, romped in two lengths ahead of the fast finishing Don’t Doubt Mama, with Egypt running into third place.

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Badawiya wins the Kewney Stakes

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Badawiya returns to scale

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Don’t Doubt Mama returns to scale

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Egypt on her way to the barriers

As the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap was the next race to jump, I ambled up to the mounting yard fence to see the parade. The haze at the bottom of some of the following photos is caused by rose petals and leaves casting a shadow on the lens.

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Black Heart Bart

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Charmed Harmony

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newmarket_japonisme 1

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Churchill Dancer

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newmarket_delectation 2

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Keen Array

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Secret Agent

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The Quarterback

Before the race even started, while the horses were making their way to the starting gates at the top of the straight, Counterattack threw his jockey Glen Boss and tore up the straight riderless, eventually being caught. Though horse and jockey were both unhurt, Counterattack was scratched on the spot.

The race itself was run at lightning speed and the field split into two sections, or rather eight of the runners headed to the grandstand side, and Charmed Harmony ran all by himself on the inside.

It resulted in a boilover, when 20/1 shot The Quarterback won narrowly from Black Heart Bart and Chautauqua. Chautauqua tried hard, but carrying the top weight proved his downfall. First and second had a 4 to 6 kg advantage. He was beaten less than a length and hardly disgraced.

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Newmarket Handicap finish on the outer rail

Surprisingly, Craig Newitt pulled The Quarterback up shortly after passing the finish line and turned him round to bring him back to scale.

Normally the winning horse returns last, being delayed by the traditional jockey interview post race with Sam Hyland up around the bend. It was amusing to see Sam galloping his pony in hot pursuit of The Quarterback.

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The Quarterback returning to the mounting yard

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Chautauqua returns to scale

The Australian Cup was a messily run race, with no horse wanting to set the pace. Last year The Cleaner kept up an honest pace, but this year, with the scratching of Mourinho, there was no natural leader.  Awesome Rock eventually took the lead with Preferment and Rising Romance close behind him on the pace.

Basically the first three on the pace finished in that order, Awesome Rock defeating Preferment by a nostril with Rising Romance a length back in third place.

Awesome Rock came in at big odds (26/1), but was denied first place by an upheld protest of second against first, alleging interference in the last 300 metres of the race. So Preferment ended up the winner in the end.

The race favourite was Bow Creek, but he missed the start and failed to make up enough ground, finishing eighth.

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Preferment on his way to the barriers

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Awesome Rock returns to scale

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Rising Romance returns to scale

Having been at Flemington all afternoon, I headed for the station after the Australian Cup and thence home.

The Coolmore Classic in Sydney ended with a boilover win by the unfancied Peeping. Azkadellia ran second and Solicit third. It certainly wasn’t a day for favourites anywhere.

So ended the main part of Melbourne’s Autumn Racing Carnival.

Overall it was interesting all the way through and the highlights for me were Chautauqua in the Lightning Stakes, Extreme Choice in the Blue Diamond StakesTurn Me Loose in the Futurity Stakes and Suavito in the Orr Stakes

Sydney’s autumn racing carnival kicks off in earnest next Saturday with Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill. Five Group 1 races are on the card, and stars such as Winx, Turn Me Loose, Fell Swoop, Extreme Choice, First Seal, Mongolian Khan, Criterion, Press Statement and Terravista are nominated to compete in one or another of the Group 1 races programmed.

The are no races in Melbourne next Saturday, just the Alister Clarke Stakes meeting at Moonee Valley on Friday night.

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