Though last Saturday was nowhere near being brilliantly sunny, the racing action was pretty interesting, in particular the two main races, the Gilgai Stakes and Turnbull Stakes.
As trains to Flemington were running all day, there was no imperative to arrive early, so I got to the track around 1.45pm and had plenty of time to cruise through the stalls area before Race 4 was scheduled.
Most of the main horses had arrived and were in their allotted stalls.
I’m glad I took my step stool as the rail on Saturday was out by 9 metres, so it would have been impossible to get rail free shots without standing on it. There is a new mounting yard fence that is considerably higher than the old one, so the step came in handy for photos there too.
Race 4 was the Group 2 Blazer Stakes for mares, and run over 1400 metres. Fidelia was the tote favourite, but the Chris Waller trained Haut Brion Her who had run second in her first two starts in Melbourne, took a liking to the Flemington big track and won comfortably after leading throughout. Another Sydney mare, Pohukutawa, having only her second start in Melbourne, ran second with Angelic Ruler filling third place.
Next up was the Listed Super Impose Stakes, an 1800 metre race for Derby bound three year olds. It had a large field of 13 runners, few of whom I had ever heard of before. It resulted in 15/1 shot Warning winning easily by 2 lengths from Independent Road and Huntly Castle.
Race 6 was the keenly anticipated Group 2 Gilgai Stakes where Santa Ana Lane and Sunlight were set to face off in a 1200 metre sprint down the long Flemington straight. Sunlight started as favourite and didn’t disappoint, leading from start to finish to win by ½ length from Santa Ana Lane who zoomed from last to second place. Zoutori finished third a short way behind.
Both Santa Ana Lane and Sunlight are assured of a start in the Everest at Randwick on 20 October, along with a number of other top class sprinters. I’m glad I got to see both of them in the flesh before that event.
In between the Melbourne races I watched the Sydney races on the big screen, where Chris Waller horses won all three of the Group 1 races – Flight Stakes (Funstar), Epsom (Kolding) and Metropolitan (Come Play With Me). Verry Elleegant, now with Chris Waller, also won last Saturday.
Chris Waller made racing history on Saturday by training four Group 1 winners, including the Turnbull Stakes with Kings Will Dream winning the prize. A former Darren Weir trained horse, Kings Will Dream fractured his pelvis in the Cox Plate last year and almost died from the injury. He was nursed back to health and remarkably won a Group 1 in his third run back in action. Finche, also trained by Chris Waller, ran a close second and the evergreen Hartnell was third.
Disappointingly Mystic Journey finished out of a place. She raced at the tail of the field and then got hampered in her run up the straight, so did well to finish 5th less than two lengths from the winner. Such is the curse of winning the PB Lawrence Stakes.
I did not stay for the Bart Cummings, where the winner gets ballot free entry into the Melbourne Cup. Surprise Baby won the privilege, and is now a great hope for a locally bred runner to steal back the Cup from the International raiders. He’s by Shocking who won the Melbourne Cup in 2010, so he’s not without a chance.
Flemington on Saturday was nowhere near crowded, but it will be a different case next Saturday at Caulfield for Caulfield Guineas Day, which features four Group 1 races and is generally well patronised.