A bright sunny day and no transport disruptions made it a perfect afternoon trackside at Flemington last Saturday.
It’s pity the races were not all that riveting, fields wise, but there were enough interesting outcomes to make the the time pass pleasantly.
Arriving at the track on the second last train, I had plenty of time on hand before Race 3, to wander up the lawn to the stalls area. They were accessible, but I didn’t tarry there long, heading back to the west lawn to photograph Race 3, the March Stakes, run over 1400 metres.
Former rogue, So Si Bon won the race by a narrow margin from Holbein and Pretty Brazen.
The Group 2 Sires Produce Stakes for two year old's was next to jump, and it was pleasing to see the Peter Moody/Luke Nolen combination back in action with Lightsaber, an unusually coloured colt, winning the bickies easily after leading throughout. Saif and Micro filled the minor placings.
The Listed Incognitus Stakes, a sprint over 1100 metres for three year old’s, was next on the schedule and the starting favourite was Oxely Road, another Peter Moody trained runner, but he finished fourth in the end. The race was won by Marboosha, who broke through a wall of horses to win by over length from Supreme Idea with Bella Nipotina running third.
As usual the official photographers were hard to avoid when the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap was run, so my photos of the finish are less than perfect. The field split into two, a small group racing down the inside of the straight, with the bulk of the field running down the grandstand side. The winner, Zoutori, was with the inside rail group and flashed through at the last minute to overtake leader, Indian Pacific, to score by a whisker. He paid generous odds, as did the placegetters Indian Pacific and Amish Boy.
With the Australian Cup scheduled as Race 8, there was one more race to witness before it was run.
This was the Group 3 Matron Stakes, a 1600 metres race for fillies and mares.
Sovereign Award led from the start and still had plenty of energy at the finish to win by over a length from Quantum Mechanic and Scarlet Dream.
With the death of music promoter Michael Gudinski last week, much has been made about Homesman winning the Australia Cup last Saturday. Gudinski was a part owner of the horse, so in a way it was sentimentally apt that Homesman won the race.
It was a close finish, almost a dead heat between Homesman and Best of Days, the former winning by a nose. Chapada ran third.
With the Cup being run and won I headed home, which took less time than last week, with trains running as normal.
Flemington was in festival mode, bands and children’s entertainments happening all along the public lawn.
I’ve rather liked the Covid Safe race meetings – less crowded than usual and better behaved.
Next Saturday I’m off to Moonee Valley for the All Star Mile. It’s been well over a year since I last ventured there, so I’m looking forward to it.
The All Star Mile looks to be a fantastic race, a sort of Cox Plate with many equine stars engaged - possibly the best race of Melbourne’s Autumn Racing Carnival.