If I had realised that transport disruptions were scheduled for last Saturday at the time I booked my ticket to the Australian Guineas meeting at Flemington, I probably wouldn’t have bothered attending.
It was only on Friday afternoon that I discovered that Buses were replacing trains on the Hurstbridge line all weekend, so rather than waste the ticket I gritted my teeth and set out at an earlier hour than usual to catch a replacement bus to Parliament Station. My arrival at Ivanhoe Station on Saturday morning coincided with the arrival of the replacement bus, so I was in the city shortly after midday with plenty of time on hand to get to Southern Cross Station and catch a train to Flemington.
As a consequence I arrived at Flemington in time for the second race on the card. My Zone 2 ticket encompassed the front lawn – from the mounting yard to past the clocktower, so I had no trouble getting to the usual spot for photography. I stayed there pretty much for the rest of the afternoon. I’m not sure if there was access to the stalls area, but only a small section of the mounting yard fence was available for general admission patrons to watch the parade.
There was quite a crowd in attendance, most of them occupying reserved tables all along the lawn, and generally civilised, other than a table of young men who seemed to be imbibing vast quantities of alcohol and having a good time. However they didn’t bother me in the slightest, and security personnel kept them in line.
Race 2 was the Listed Roy Higgins Quality, a race over 2600 metres, and Mosh Music (a daughter of Black Caviar’s brother Moshe from a Jeune mare) was the winner, beating Sin To Win by over a length with Stars of Carrum running third.
It was a pleasant day weather wise, cool and mild with little wind, though overcast throughout.
A Group 3 race over 1400 metres, the Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap was of interest due to the presence of popular Queenslander The Harrovian who had won his last 11 races and is an All Star Mile contender.
His colours were lowered in the Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap at this his first start on the big Flemington track, where he finished fifth, outclassed by the locals.
Morvada led from the start and prevailed, winning by a length from Holbien and Platoon.
The next two races were sprints, Race 4 being the World Horse Racing Handicap over 1200 metres and Race 5, the rather more interesting Bob Hoysted Handicap over 1000 metres. Both of these races were won by greys.
Subedar won the Race 4 from Street Icon and Laverrod, and West Australian grey mare Fabergino who loves the Flemington straight, won the Bob Hoysted Handicap from Indian Pacific and Humma Humma.
The most interesting race on the card was up next; the Group 2 Blamey Stakes, run over 1600 metres. It had attracted a classy field that included Mystic Journey, Fifty Stars (2019 &2020 Blamey winner), Best Of Days and the Chris Waller trained Star of the Seas making a rare appearance in Melbourne.
Buffalo River was the race favourite and led from the start only to be overtaken in the last stretch by Star of the Seas and Fifty Stars. Mystic Journey finished 5th and found to be lame after race.
It’s not every race day that you see a 300/1 shot win a Group 1 race, but such was the sensational result of the feature Australian Guineas when rank outsider, Lunar Fox won the prize.
He raced mid field for most of the race whilst race favourite Tagaloa led from the start. Lunar Fox ran wide to overtake the leaders and Cherry Tortoni flew from the back of the pack to snag second place. Tagaloa hung on for third.
I didn’t stay for the last two races, only tarrying to watch the Chipping Norton Stakes on the big screen. It was a great race with class staying mares Verry Elleegant and Colette fighting out the finish with the former being the narrow victor.
By rights I should left as soon as the Guineas was over.
I was under the impression that the first train from Flemington back to city was scheduled to run at 4.45pm (according to the VRC website), but had in fact left at 4.25pm.
So I had a long and tedious wait for the 5.07pm train, then was obliged to catch a tram from Southern Cross to Spring Street to catch the replacement bus back to Ivanhoe. It took almost two hours to get home.
Fortunately next weekend the Hurstbridge line services will be normal so I won’t be so inconvenienced when I travel back to Flemington for the Super Saturday meeting.
Anyway, I did find out last Saturday that Covid Restrictions were not at all onerous at Flemington and that our preferred spot for photographs is part of the Zone 2 area and no hassle to access.