A mild partly sunny day made it a pleasure to head to the track for Caulfield Guineas Day, featuring four Group 1 races, each of which was closely contested.
I arrived shortly before the running of Race 3, the Group 3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes, a race for three year old fillies over 1200 metres.
As I was in the stalls area when the race was about to start, I watched from the hill and snapped the finish, where California Zimbol beat hot favourite Loving Gaby by over two lengths with Don’ttelltheboss a further two lengths behind running third.
For the rest of the afternoon I joined my friend Rebecca on the front lawn, preferring these days to photograph the action down the straight.
Manicure was the starting favourite for Race 4, the Group 3 Bass Straight Beef Steaks (nice pun); a race for mares over 1200 metres.
Tofane, unfancied in the betting, stormed from the tail of the field to beat Manicure by a length, with Sweet Scandal running third.
A number of International runners, here for the Melbourne Cup, were part of the field for the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes, including Prince of Arran who ran third in last year’s Melbourne Cup and also third in the 2018 Herbert Power.
Race favourite was the Irish bred import Steel Prince. who was dramatically scratched at the barriers, after kicking out in the gates and hurting a hind leg.
I was delighted to see New Zealand bred, Murray Baker trained, The Chosen One win the race from Prince of Arran with fellow New Zealander Sully running third. The Chosen One with his win gained ballot free entry into the Caulfield Cup.
The first of the Group 1 races was the Thousand Guineas for fillies and run over 1600 metres. Flit was the favourite and won by a very short margin from Missile Mantra and Southbank .
The beautiful Avilius was the warm favourite for Race 6, the Group 1 Ladbroke’s Stakes, but racing at the tail of the field he was left wanting at the finish, and ended fourth. Old Black Heart Bart looked to steal the race as they approached the finish line, but the unfancied Cape of Good Hope stole the prize by a nose at the post in a photo finish. Harlem ran third.
The feature Caulfield Guineas was up next and again resulted in a photo finish. Alligator Blood stole a march on the rest of the field from the top of the straight and looked the winner up until the last second, when Super Seth bounded from the tail to overtake him and win by a nose. Groundswell finished third over two lengths in arrears.
The burst mode on my camera showed over ten frames with just Alligator Blood in the picture, until the last few frames.
As the afternoon was getting late, I didn’t stay for the final Group 1 race, the Toorak Handicap which was won by 18/1 shot Fierce Impact from Night’s Watch and Age of Chivalry.
I also missed the Schillaci Stakes, the final qualifier for a place in The Everest. Trekking won the honours.
Next Saturday is the Caulfield Cup in Melbourne and The Everest will be the feature race at Randwick, to be run one hour before the Caulfield Cup.