Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Inspirational Guineas Day at Flemington

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Hitotsu wins the Australian Guineas from Lightsaber

Early Saturday morning it bucketed down with rain in Melbourne, but by the time I arrived at the big track it had cleared somewhat, though was overcast in the afternoon.

Quite a change from the sunny days of the previous weeks race meetings. At least it wasn’t hot though it was humid.

As trains were running at 20 minute intervals all afternoon to Flemington, for a change I could take my time getting there, so arrived as Race 3 was in progress, and in plenty of time to watch the fillies and mares  contest Race 4, the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes.

After acquiring a race book, I decided to head up the stalls area and try and get a photo of star performer Zaaki who was engaged in Race 6, the Group 2 Blamey Stakes.

Zaaki’s presence at the track was bonus, as I have never seen him in the flesh before, his previous races in Melbourne being over the Spring Racing Carnival, which due to Covid restrictions I was unable to attend.

During the Melbourne Spring, Zaaki won the Group 1 Underwood Stakes and Mackinnon Stakes and was hot favourite for the Cox Plate, before his shock scratching on the morning of the race.

Up in stalls area most of the Guineas contenders had already arrived, so I got some photos of them in their stalls as well.

The first horse I came across was Apache Cat, one of the Living Legends special guests for the meeting. Apache Cat won the Australian Guineas in 2006, so his presence was perfectly appropriate.

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Apache Cat

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Forgot You

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I eventually found Zaaki’s stall…

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and Inspirational Girl was close by.

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Inspirational Girl

Back track side it was almost time for the Frances Tressady Stakes where Annavisto romped in, winning by over 3 lengths from Vespertine and Electric Girl.

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Annavisto wins the Frances Tressady Stakes

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Vespertine and Electric Girl

Flemington was nowhere near crowded and the kid zone was concentrated up the Elms end of the lawn and even had a Ferris Wheel.

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Ferris Wheel

Race 5 was the Inglis Sprint and Overpass was the hot favourite and didn’t disappoint winning fairly easily from Spellcatcher with The Art of Flying two lengths behind running third.

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Overpass overtakes Spellcatcher to win the Inglis Sprint

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Overpass returns to scale

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Spellcatcher returns to scale

As the Blamey Stakes was up next I decided to grab a spot on the Mounting Yard fence for some photos of the runners parading.

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Inspirational Girl

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Lunar Fox

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Mr Brightside

The Blamey Stakes is a race over 1600 metres and of course Zaaki was the hot favourite. It was a slowly run race and Zaaki raced on the pace in third spot. He was briefly blocked for a run,  but broke clear to take lead, only to be run down late by Inspirational Girl who pipped him at the post to win by a nose. Corner Pocket ran third.

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Zaaki and Inspirational Girl fight out the finish in the Blamey Stakes

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Inspirational Girl returns to scale

Then it was onward to the feature race of the day, the Australian Guineas. Last year Lunar Fox won it at odds of 300/1, but this year 2021 VRC Derby winner Hitotsu, having his first start since that victory, won the prize.

Profondo was the much hyped favourite for the race, but failed to handle the Melbourne way of going and finished  third last.  Pretty boy Lightsaber raced up near the speed and ran a great race to lose out to Hitotsu by a narrow margin. Sole filly in the race Bon’s A Pearla ran third.

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Hitotsu, Lightsaber and Bon’s A Pearla as they finished

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Hitotsu returns to scale

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Lightsaber on his way to the barriers

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Bon’s A Pearla returns to scale

Hitotsu became the first horse since Mahogany in 1993/94 to win the VRC DerbyAustralian Guineas double – a rare achievement that I am glad I was able to witness in person.

Next Saturday the racing action is again at Flemington with the Australian Cup and Newmarket Handicap the feature Group 1 races. The All Star Mile is scheduled to run the Saturday after.

The latest All Star Mile news is that Hitotsu, Lightsaber and Pinstriped are the wildcard entries, which certainly adds to the allure of the race, which already boasts a quality field of contestants.


Bec said...

Love your photo of Hitotsu!

Anne S said...

Thanks Bec. Hitotsu is a handsome fellow in the flesh. Look forward to seeing him run in the All Star Mile which hopefully will be a fine sunny day this year.