There has been much commentary since Saturday regarding the track bias at Caulfield on Blue Diamond Stakes Day, which favoured on pace runners. And indeed watching the racing action, the winners of the four races I witnessed either led from the start or were close to the leader during the race. It was a disastrous day for favourites.
I took my time getting to Caulfield arriving just before race 4, the Group 3 Mannerism Stakes for mares over 1400 metres. Pretty grey mare Greysful Glamour led from the start and was never headed, winning by over a length from Bam’s On Fire and favourite Spanish Reef.
La Tene in the Angus Armanesco Stakes (race 5) raced mid field on the fence, then broke through to overtake the leaders to win by a nose from Lady Lupino.
Race 6 was the first of the Group 1 events, the Futurity Stakes where it was expected that Kolding, Super Seth and Melody Belle would feature prominently. The unfancied Streets of Avalon who hadn’t won for yonks, took the lead shortly after the start and held off a challenge from Super Seth to win his first Group 1 race, and a chance to run in the All Star Mile. Kolding was a major disappointment, apparently not handling the Melbourne way of going, and finished fifth. Melody Belle ran a meritorious third.
Hanseatic was the warm favourite for the Blue Diamond Stakes and was aiming to become the first horse to win the Blue Diamond Preview/Prelude and Blue Diamond Stakes since Sepoy in 2011. As was the pattern of the day he did not succeed, beaten narrowly by the 26/1 shot Tagaloa, though he tried hard to overtake him. Personal stormed from the back of the field to run third.
I did not stay for the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate. Speedy mare Pippie led all the way to win from Zoutori and Crystal Dreamer. The trifecta paid almost $6,500.
There are only three more Saturdays of Group racing in Melbourne and next week features the Group 1 Australian Guineas at Flemington. Mystic Journey won it last year, but this year promises to be super special with Alligator Blood and Catalyst set to resume their rivalry. They will be challenged by Orr Stakes winner Alabama Express and the highly regarded West Australian Superstorm, among others.
The weather is expected to be similar to last Saturday, mild and sunny.