Monday, February 22, 2021

A Comedy of Errors–Blue Diamond Stakes Day Review

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Blue Diamond Stakes – the charge to the finishing post

It was all a bit Shakespearean.

Not a tragedy, but several of the Bard’s comedy titles have been running through my head since attending the Blue Diamond Stakes meeting at Caulfield last Saturday.

But first some background…

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Confirmation email header

Both my friend Rebecca and I are casual members at Caulfield, so we could register to attend the Blue Diamond meeting in advance. This I did in early February over the phone and booked Rebecca in at the same time.

With the five day Covid 19 lockdown occurring in the interval it was touch and go that racing fans could attend the meeting.

MRC worked out a Covid 19 Plan whereby 9000 persons were allowed on the course, separated into three zones of 3000 people.

One had to wait until the night before the race meeting to find out which Zone one was allocated to. An anxious wait for a confirming email ensued. It finally arrived in my inbox at 8.45 pm on Friday night and I learned that we were booked into the Members Spritz Lawn in Zone 3.

As Rebecca hadn’t received a separate email, I forwarded my confirming email on to her, so she would know where to go.

I was rather intrigued by being allocated the Members Spritz Lawn, as normally those sorts of places are for Full Members only.

Travelling to Caulfield as usual by public transport I received several distressed texts from Rebecca who had already arrived at Caulfield, and said that Zone 3 was the hoons section with a crowd of noisy drunken yobbos giving her second thoughts of staying the course.

No wonder, she was in Zone 2 with Joe Public.

Luckily she hung on until I got to Caulfield around 2.00pm, where I discovered that the Spritz Lawn was the place to be, and had no trouble entering it with my casual membership  card.

After all this ado Rebecca and I settled into Zone 3 which even had access to the fence for photographs, somewhat further away from the finishing post than we normally managed, but who was complaining.

The Members Spritz Lawn was spacious and civilised, compared with Zone 2, which I admit looked horrific – unmasked crowds of drunken noisy patrons.

Race 3 had just been run when I arrived at Caulfield, so Race 4, the Group 3 Mannerism Stakes was the first race I witnessed. It’s a race for fillies and mares run over 1400 metres and West Australian mare Perfect Jewel was the favourite. Sovereign Award was the race leader with Perfect Jewel nicely placed behind her in second place. In the straight Rich Hips overtook the leaders, with Perfect Jewel giving chase. Rich Hips held on to win by a half length.

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Rich Hips overtakes Perfect Jewel (pink) and Sovereign Award (orange)

It is very rare for a filly to win the Group 2 Autumn Classic, but this year’s edition resulted in a fillies quinella. Khoe Khoe started as favourite but he was outclassed by Parure and the peculiarly named Butter Chicken and finished third

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Parure leads with Butter Chicken (nose band) overtaking Khoe Khoe

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Parure bounds up the straight

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Butter Chicken on her way to the barriers

Probabeel currently is my favourite race horse and she starred again in the first of the Group 1 races, the Futurity Stakes which was up next.

It was a wonderful race with a super field of contenders. Three year old Crosshaven led the field for most of the race.  Probabeel raced mid field out wide and seized the lead  halfway up the straight, sailing past Behemoth and Streets of Avalon. Arcadia Queen flew from the tail of the field to challenge Probabeel but she held her off to win by half a length with Mr Quickie  running third two lengths behind. Arcadia Queen and Probabeel face off again in the All Star Mile.

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Probabeel holds off a challenge from Arcadia Queen to win the Futurity Stakes

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Probabeel on her way to the barriers

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Probabeel burns up the straight

After the excitement of the Futurity Stakes, the feature Blue Diamond Stakes could have been ho hum, but wasn’t – it never is no matter who the winner may be.

I fancied class filly Enthaar, but though she led the race from the outset  at a rattling pace, she tired to finish 6th as she was swamped by colts Ingratiating, and Artorius who flew from the back to snatch victory . Ingratiating finished second and Anamoe ran third. Artorius was unfavoured in the betting, yielding a $15.00 dividend.

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Enthaar still leads, but Ingratiating (blue) is about to overtake her

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Artorius on his way to the barriers

The final Group 1 race, the Oakleigh Plate resulted in a dead heat between Portland Sky and West Australian mare Celebrity Queen, a rare event in a Group 1 race.  A feral child was hanging on the fence next to me shrieking his support for race favourite Ancestry as the race was run.  I felt like hitting him he was so annoying and shrilly loud, and was glad that Ancestry finished fourth last.

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Portland Sky and Celebrity Queen overtake Ancestry to go on to fight out the finish

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Celebrity Queen on her way to the barriers

It had been an enjoyable afternoon at the races, and the weather in general had been kind, somewhat humid but not oppressive. The sun even came out later in the afternoon, though earlier there was a sprinkling of rain.

Next Saturday the racing is at Flemington for Australian Guineas Day.

Initially I was not going to attend as individual General Admission tickets were not available. However, all that changed today when I visited the VRC website and saw that Unreserved GA tickets were on sale this morning. So I booked  Zone 2 Unreserved General Admission tickets for both Guineas Day and Super Saturday.

I’m looking forward to returning to the big beautiful open spaces of Flemington and hope that Zone 2 covers my favourite position for taking photos.

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