Was it an omen that the first horse I saw when walking into Caulfield Racecourse last Saturday was Apache Cat, in light of the feature event, later in the afternoon being won by another cat, in this case the Irish sprinter Jungle Cat?
Apache Cat was there as the special guest from Living Legends and corralled in the kids zone, where I paused to take a photo.
It was by chance that I passed by the popular Living Legend as my time of arrival coincided with the start of Race 3, where Blue Diamond Stakes winner Written By kicked off his spring campaign with a win.
Written By hasn’t started since running fourth in the Golden Slipper Stakes back in March, so it’s pleasing that the handsome colt is back on the scene in good form.
The feature race on Saturday at Caulfield was the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, a sprint over 1400 metres. It was scheduled as Race 8, so there were four other races to watch before it was run.
Race 4 was the Living Legends Handicap, a race for mares over 1400 metres.
Again it was a pleasing result where class mare Tulip was victorious, beating Shoko by a narrow margin, with Mamzelle Tess running third.
As it was an alternate weekend, the afternoon was mild and sunny, quite a contrast to the ghastly weather at Flemington last week, and the light was excellent for photos.
A not particularly interesting race, the Grassroots Sports Club for Mirabel Handicap resulted in a win for Sydney based sprinter Spending To Win. The highly regarded and previously unbeaten Eduardo was not disgraced running a close second and Bryan ran third.
Race 6 was the Aquis Jim Moloney Stakes for Pinchapoo, for three year old fillies over 1400 metres. Tasmanian filly Mystic Journey upstaged the local girls, winning at big odds. Spanish Whisper and Tahitian Dancer filled the minor placings.
Next up was the Naturalism Stakes, considerably of more interest than the preceding races. It gives the winner ballot free entry into the Caulfield Cup, so a good field of stayers accepted for the 2000 metre event. The field included English stayer Folkswood, last seen in Australia in the 2017 where he won the Cranbourne Cup, then finished third to Winx in the Cox Plate.
Race favourite however was Night’s Watch who delivered in spades in quite spectacular fashion, running wide from the tail of the field to snatch victory from Rising Red and Odeon.
Folkswood after running on the pace for most of the race finished last, leaving his connections puzzled.
Finally it was time for the feature Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes. My photos of the finish were not worth saving, but I did get decent shots of the field as they headed to the barriers, though not all of them.
Jungle Cat, as previously mentioned, won the bickies. This was his first start in Australia, his previous start being in Dubai where he won the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in March.
Home of the Brave was the starting favourite, but he finished out of a place in fourth. Runner up was long shot Dollar for Dollar and the well fancied Land of Plenty finished third.
Mid afternoon I took time out to watch the other feature race of the day, which was the Golden Rose at Rosehill. The Chris Waller trained The Autumn Sun was the outstanding winner, swooping from the back of the field to overtake his stablemate Zousain with race favourite Graff finishing third.
I’m looking forward to seeing The Autumn Sun racing in Melbourne in the Caulfield Guineas next month. He arrived in Melbourne yesterday with stablemates Winx, Youngstar, Invincibella and Another Dollar.
I didn’t tarry after the Rupert Clarke and headed home despite the next race being quite interesting with a super field of mares competing. It was won by Winter Bride from Ellicazoom.
Next weekend the races in Melbourne are at Caulfield again, but run on Sunday so as not to clash with the AFL Grand Final. The Group 1 Underwood Stakes is the feature with a good support card that includes two Guineas Preludes.
In fact it is a super weekend of races with Moonee Valley kicking off their Friday night meetings with the Group 1 Moir Stakes, and Sydney featuring three Group 1 races on the Saturday.
A final photo before I close this post of ravens in flight, captured at Caulfield during a lull in proceedings. I’ve been trying to get such a photo for ages, so I’m glad the opportunity presented itself when I had a camera in hand.