Back in March at Flemington on Australian Cup Day, Awesome Rock technically won the feature event, but lost out to Preferment on protest.
On Saturday at Moonee Valley he was vindicated, thrashing a classy field to take out the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, which also gives him automatic entry into the Cox Plate.
More on that later…
It was a long afternoon at The Valley as I arrived at the course shortly after the running of the second race on the program at around 1.00pm.
However, the four hours I spent at the track flashed by remarkably quickly.
In Race 3, the Moonee Valley Handicap, a race for three year olds over 1514 metres, I was interested in a young fellow called Rocketeer and even contemplated putting money on him.
As I was watching the runners parading in the parade ring, Hey Doc caught my eye as a stunning looking animal, and on looks, the pick of the yard.
So, as I was heading for the front lawn, I was torn on who to back in the race. I ended up taking a few dollars each way on both Hey Doc and Rocketeer.
Superior in looks and superior in ability Hey Doc, racing wide for most of the trip and with a weight impost, won convincingly by over a length from Rocketeer. Race leader, the Gai Waterhouse trained Lord Macau held on for third.
That was my only bet for the day as I felt no such certainty on any of the other runners in the next five races.
Despite Moonee Valley Racing Club offering footy fans free entry to the course, as there was no football (Aussie Rules) played on Saturday, not many took up the offer. There was only a small crowd present, so it was easy to get good spots to take photos.
For race 3 I was on the fence on the Public Lawn, but felt uneasy about the Nikon’s ability to handle different light conditions, so photographed the rest of the action from around the front of the stalls area.
Actually, I finally solved the lighting problem by adjusting the exposure compensation as the afternoon progressed and the shadow of the Grandstand lengthened over the course.
The next race on the program was the boringly named United Refrigeration Handicap, also run over 1514 metres for all comers.
It resulted in a narrow win for Vostok over Mr Individual with Moss ‘N’ Dale running third.
In between the races I cruised through the stalls area to get snaps of the major contenders in their stalls.
Also, old Fields of Omagh was on track as a special guest. I managed to give him a pat.
The Darren Weir contingent took up twenty stalls and included several Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes entries.
Also in her stall was Piccadillies, the half sister to Fastnet Rock, who sired Awesome Rock.
The action started to get interesting with Race 5, the McEwen Stakes, a Group 2 sprint over 1000 metres.
Heatherly was the short priced favourite, but she bombed the start and did well to run a close third to Wild Rain who led throughout to beat Furnaces and Heatherly.
The Atlantic Jewel Stakes featured a field of Guineas bound fillies.
There was a lot of interest in the Western Australian filly Whispering Brook who had won all five of her previous starts in her home State. She had drawn a wide gate, so was at a disadvantage from the start. She narrowly lost to Denman filly Merriest so was hardly disgraced in her run. Sweet Sherry ran third.
There was only one more race before the feature to be run. This was the SAJ Fruit Supply Stakes, a sprint over 1200 metres.
Voodoo Lad was the warm favourite and didn’t let his fans down with a gritty win, coming wide from the tail of the field to win by a length from Keen Array and Sebring Sun.
The United States started as favourite for the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, but ended up unplaced.
I failed to mention any of the placegetters (Awesome Rock, Real Love and Set Square) in my preview of the race in my last post. They all came in at big odds, the trifecta paying a fortune (over $33, 000).
I caught the field parading in the ring before the race…
And also got photos of the field on their way to the barriers…
It was a messily run race, with The Cleaner, the natural leader drawing wide, taking some time to get the leading position. The rest of the field jostled for position and the winner Awesome Rock caused interference to several runners in his dash to the front.
Staying mares Real Love and Set Square took out the minor places. Tosen Stardom ran fourth and The Cleaner hung on for fifth.
I didn’t stay for the last race, heading for the bus stop after the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, a tad tired after a long afternoon on my feet at The Valley, where I hardly sat down at all. Good exercise anyway.
In Sydney, the Chelmsford Stakes was won by Hartnell by 7 lengths from stayers Grand Marshall and Storm The Stars. You can tell Winx was scratched from the race, as the result may have been quite different had she been there. She beat Hartnell by three lengths in the Warwick Stakes recently.
Next Saturday there are two Group 1 races, the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington and the Golden Rose at Rosehill.
The racing action is heating up as is the spring weather in Melbourne.