For a change, the weather in Melbourne last Saturday was more Summer than capricious Spring, with blue skies and sunshine the whole day – hot in fact.
Arriving at Flemington around 1.45pm I headed directly to the stalls area to get some photos of the leading runners in the two Group 1 events.
The first horse I came across was none other than old Living Legend Might and Power, having a day out at the races. A crowd of admirers surrounded him outside his stall, feeding him carroty treats and giving him a pat.
He seemed to be enjoying himself enormously, and looked remarkably well for his age. He’s now 24 years old.
Also present was the grey flash Chautauqua…
and his great rival Terravista.
New sprinters on the block, Everest winner Redzel, as well as Redkirk Warrior and Impending were also out and about
Considering the drama that occurred when the field for the feature Emirates Stakes was headiing out to the starting gates, with Gingernuts unfortunately suffering an injury in transit, I’m glad I got a nice photo of him in the stalls area early in the afternoon. He reportedly suffered a pastern fracture, which his jockey Michael Dee felt as it happened. He pulled Gingernuts up and dismounted instantly. The injury is not considered life threatening, but Gingernuts will be out of action for a very long time.
The crowds were not half as bad as Derby Day, so it wasn’t all that tedious to walk to the access gate east of the winning post – the favourite spot for Rebecca & I to snap photos.
From there we watched race 5, the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a consolation prize for stayers who missed running in the Melbourne Cup. It had a good field that included 2016 Geelong Cup & 2017 Bendigo Cup winner Qewy and Vengeur Masque who won the 2017 Geelong Cup and finished a close second to Cismontane in the Lexus Stakes.
After winning $100.00 on Vengeur Masque in the Geelong Cup, he’s now promoted to a personal favourite, so I was pleased that he proved his credentials as a fine stayer in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, leading from the start ot the finish. Grey Lion challenged in the straight, but Vengeur Masque stuck to his guns and prevailed by ¾ lengths. Wheal Leisure finished third.
Qewy started as favourite but finished sixth. He has since been retired.
First Lady of Racing, Gai Waterhouse had a wonderful Melbourne Spring Carnival, training five Group winners, Pinot in the Group 1 Oaks being her top result. So it looks as if we shall have to take Gai’s runners seriously again.
Savapinkski enhanced Gai’s reputation by winning the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes, race 6 on the program on Saturday, leading all the way in 2000 metre race to win by almost three lengths from Payroll with Token of Love running third another length behind.
It was too hot to stay on the public lawn between races, and it got boring watching the Winning Post patrons on the opposite side of the track, to and froing from one side of the track to the other, so Bec and I headed for one of the scarce shaded areas behind us. I’d never been to the Boags Deck, so we decided to investigate. There were a couple of guys providing musical entertainment up there and a shaded area, so we lingered there until it was time for the first of the Group 1 events.
As the horses paraded in the mounting yard prior to the running of the Darley Classic sprint, the official photographers clustered in front of us to get a good vantage point for horses running along the outside rail. Flemington sprints are problematical for photographers due to the tendency of the field to split into two sections, one lot on the inside rail and the rest on the grandstand side.
Along with the photographers on the rail, the security guards also plonked themselves in such a way as to block the view of the finish.
So it’s no wonder that my photos of the Darley Classic finish are pathetic, and don’t picture the winner Redzel, who raced along the outer rail. Terravista ran second and Impending was third. Chautauqua ended up running fourth.
It was getting on to 5.00 pm when the feature Group 1 Emirates Stakes was run. The pesky security guys were again blocking the view…
But by shooting between the gaps I managed to get photos of the main contenders, including Gingernuts before his unfortunate break down.
It’s very fortunate that jockey Michael Dee realised that something was wrong, and that the injury happened before the race start and not during the race. Gingernuts was eventually led into a veterinary ambulance and taken off to horse hospital at Werribee. The latest on his condition has him recovering well from surgery to have screws inserted in the fractured area.
This incident delayed the start of the Emirates Stakes by 10 minutes, but eventually they were off and running.
Gailo Chop lead the field for most of the race with Cliff’s Edge and Folkswood on the pace as well, but as the field turned for home it was anyone’s guess who the winner would be. Tosen Stardom was blocked for a run, but found a gap close to finish line and stormed to victory, winning by 1½ lengths from Happy Clapper, also swooping from the back of the field, with It’s Somewhat running third.
And so ended the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival for this year.
Overall the racing action has been quite interesting this year as compared to last year, even though there were many long odds winners upsetting the favourites.
Highlights of the season:
Winx - in every one of her starts this Spring she has been astounding and kept her winning sequence intact through thick and thin, and has now at 22 straight wins and is drawing closer to Black Caviar’s record of 25. She also created history by matching Kingston Town’s Cox Plate Treble and I’m glad I was there to witness it.
Bonneval – looked to be a potential star of the spring in her first two runs in Melbourne, winning the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes and Group 1 Underwood Stakes, the first mare to win either of these races in many years. Unfortunately she fell under an injury cloud before the Caulfield Cup, which probably accounts for her poor performance in that race.
Ace High – a promising young stayer who took home two Group 1 trophys this season, the Spring Champion Stakes and Victoria Derby.
Rekindling – although I thought the Melbourne Cup field was boring, I was very pleased that Rekindling won the race. Technically only three years of age, he became the first 3yo to win the big race since Skipton in 1941.
Royal Symphony – a beautiful looking colt, Royal Symphony started his Spring campaign early in July winning his first four starts. Bad luck dogged him thereafter and he ran fourth in his other three starts in the Spring, the last being the Cox Plate, where he had a torrid run monstered by Happy Clapper all the way.
Russian Revolution – looked as if he would be a force to be reckoned with in his first race this spring where he impressively won the Group 2 McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley, then failed to place in the Group 1 Moir Stakes, whereupon he was sent for spell.
Chautauqua – competed in four races this Spring, but failed to place in any of them. Is he a spent force?
I hardly had a bet this Spring, and except for Caulfield Cup day where I had my money on Bonneval and Jon Snow, my other two wagers were very successful and my Sportsbet Account ended up with more funds than it started with.