There was a definite taste of spring in the air at Caulfield on Saturday, a welcome mild sunny day after the greyness of winter, warming the cockles of the heart and making it a pleasure to be outside.
This was reflected in the quality of the racing program, with several potential equine stars beginning their Spring campaigns, most notably the super Tasmanian mare Mystic Journey.
As anticipated I arrived at Caulfield racetrack around 2.00pm and stayed for four races.
Normally at Caulfied I would head for the hill above the stalls to take photos, but this time took along a new step stool I had recently purchased at K Mart for the princely sum of $5.00. It is less cumbersome to tote around than the one I had been using up till now, being a smaller plastic foldout step that has the same elevation of 220mm (8 inches) – the perfect height to surmount the high rail around the Caulfield track. This now allowed me to get photos of the action down the straight to the finishing post, which was impossible for me to accomplish previously.
Race 4 had just been run when I arrived at the course, so there was plenty of time to wander around the stalls area before the running of the Vain Stakes.
A new statue of Black Caviar had been unveiled that morning…
It has been placed close to the walking ring in the stalls area, coincidently the last place I saw Black Caviar in the flesh at her Farewell in April 2013.
At this time Mystic Journey, the star attraction of the afternoon, had not arrived, but a small group of fans were waiting patiently outside Stall 44 where she was allocated.
The colts were parading in the pre-parade ring, prior to the Vain Stakes, so I headed back to the fence on the public lawn.
Bivouac was sensational in the Vain Stakes, winning by over 4 lengths from Sebrakate with Dirty Work, a further 2 lengths behind running third.
Back in the stalls area Mystic Journey had turned up and was in her stall, looking bright and beautiful. She’s a lovely black mare, and according to her trainer Adam Trinder has a calm demeanour. She is known to her fans as Betty the Jet.
The Quezette Stakes was up next and 2019 Blue Diamond Stakes winner Lyre was the favourite. She finished fourth, the winner, her stablemate Exhilarates, stealing the prize from the consistent Absolute Flirt by 1½ lengths, with Pin Sec running third.
Recently the Melbourne Racing Club made peace with Racing NSW regarding the running of The Everest on Caulfield Cup Day, by purchasing a slot for a runner, with the winner of the Schillaci Stakes getting a chance to run in the 14 million dollar race. The winners of three qualifying sprint races buildlng up the Schillaci Stakes would get ballot free entry into it. The first of these qualifiers, the Listed Regal Roller Stakes, was run last Saturday.
The amusingly named and hugely popular Begood Toya Mother, who has racked up an impressive winning streak, started as the favourite and didn’t disappoint. He led from the start to the finish and won by 1½ lengths from challenger Haunted, with sterling mare Fundamentalist running third.
Though taking photos from the public lawn fence is excellent for racing action shots it leaves a lot to be desired as far as individual horse photos go, so I decided to go back to my usual spot above the stalls for the P B Lawrence Stakes.
Of course I missed out on photos of the finish up the straight, but did get some nice photos of the runners going to the mounting yard and barriers, the light being better up there.
My step came in handy as the inner rail was out by 10 metres, and allowed me to get rail free photos.
Mystic Journey started from Gate 2, but her jockey Anthony Darmanin rode a pearler of a race, getting her away from the rail and in a good postion to pounce. Cliff’s Edge led from the start and was over three lengths ahead as the field approached the turn into the straight. Mystic Journey overtook him as the post loomed and she went on to win by ¾ length. Hartnell finished third.
I did mention in my preview of this race that I hoped that Mystic Journey would not be jinxed by winning the seemingly cursed P B Lawrence Stakes. Cross fingers she will be an exception to the rule.
Her next race will possibly be the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington in mid September.
Though the racing in Melbourne next weekend is not that interesting, Randwick race track will host the first Group 1 of the Spring racing season – the Winx Stakes, formerly the Warwick Stakes renamed to honour the now retired super mare.
Whether Mystic Journey can match Winx’s record is yet to be seen. She now has won 7 consecutive races and is building an impressive picket fence against her name in the form guide.