Monday, February 26, 2024

Blue Diamond Stakes Day Review

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Hayasugi on her way to winning the 2024 Blue Diamond Stakes

Last Saturday I set out for Caulfield around 12.40pm and arrived at the track 40 minutes later, in time to locate my friend Rebecca and practice photography on Race 4, the Group 3 Zedative Stakes, a race for 3 year olds over 1200 metres.

Raikoke led from the start, and despite a late challenge from Brave Mead, won by over a length. Scully ran third.

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Raikoke wins the Zedative Stakes comfortably

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Brave Mead in hot pursuit

The Group 2 Autumn Classic, over 1800 metres was next to run and was won by over 3 lengths by Immediacy. Caracas finished second with Our Couver a further length behind in third place

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Immediacy wins the Autumn Classic easily

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Caracas and Our Couver run second and third

It was a sunny day with a cool breeze offsetting the heat of the sun,  pleasant to be in the open air.

Race 6, the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes was of interest due to the presence of highly regarded New Zealand mare Campionessa taking on the likes of past Melbourne Cup winners Vow and Declare and Gold Trip.

The mare proved her metal with a gritty win over a very short margin (a nose) from Vow and Declare. Gold Trip finished third.

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Campionessa wins the Peter Young Stakes from Vow and Declare

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Campionessa on her way to the barriers

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Vow an Declare on his way to the barriers

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Gold Trip on his way to the barriers

There were three Group 1 races on the cards last Saturday, the first to run being the Futurity Stakes. Star miler Mr Brightside was the hot favourite and he didn’t disappoint, winning by over length from Pericles with early leader, Buffalo River, hanging on for third.

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Mr Brightside burns up the straight to win the Futurity Stakes

With feature Blue Diamond Stakes up next, Rebecca and I stuck to our spot on the fence, rather than jostling for position with other racing enthusiasts.

Coleman started as the favourite, but 14/1 shot Hayasugi, given a lovely ride by Jaimie Kah, won the prize narrowly from the highly favoured Lady of Camelot, with Kuroyanagi running third, completing a fillies trifecta.

Hayasugi became the first horse since Sepoy in  2011 to win the Blue Diamond PreviewBlue Diamond Prelude and Blue Diamond Stakes – quite an accomplishment!

I also recall that I saw her racing on Cox Plate Day last year, where she ran second to Bold Bastille in the Group 2 Inglis Banner.

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Hayasugi returns to scale after winning the Blue Diamond Stakes

I didn’t stay for the final Group 1, the Oakleigh Plate which was won in my absence by Queman, opting for home after a pleasant afternoon trackside.

Next Saturday I will probably attend the Australian Guineas meeting at Flemington.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Vale Verry Elleegant

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Verry Elleegant – October 2018

The sad news of the death of Verry Elleegant was released yesterday.

She died of complications while giving birth to her first foal in Europe.

It was on a rare occasion that she raced in Melbourne, most of her illustrious career being in Sydney under the care of Chris Waller.

She won 11 Group 1 races and I only saw her in the flesh during her three year old year when she was trained by Darren Weir. After that the Covid outbreak prevented attendance at the races for several years.

So the only photos I have of her are from 2018, when she was three, though I did watch her Sydney races on my computer or on the big screen if I was at the races.

Alas, her foal was unable to be saved, so we will  not have the pleasure of watching her children on the track in the future.

She was great race mare who will be sadly missed by all race fans.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Lightning Strike–Imperatriz wins again

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Imperatriz winning the 2024 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes

Over the past decade I have attended Lightning Stakes Day at Flemington many times.

This year with super star sprinter Imperatriz being set to run, it was a no brainer to be present again, so I headed off to the big track last Saturday for the event.

Happily it was a sunny day, quite warm in fact, and I arrived at the track shortly after 1.00 pm and was in plenty of time to get to my favourite possie on the fence to witness the Talindert Stakes, a race for two year olds over 1100 metres.

The bizarrely named Aardvark won the race by a little over length with Reasonable Point and Bittercreek running the minor places.

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Aardvark wins the Talindert Stakes

I gave Race 4 a miss and decided to visit the stalls area to get a photo of Imperatriz.

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Imperatriz in her stall looking bright & beautiful

Race 5 was the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes, run over 1400 metres for fillies and mares.

Revolutionary Miss who I recall witnessing winning the Blue Diamond Prelude in 2022, proved the winner in this race, narrowly beating Forbidden City and Fortunate Kiss.

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Revolutionary Miss wins the Frances Tressady Stakes from Forbidden City

The the Group 3 Vanity was next up and Grizinger Belle, who led from the start, prevailed to win comfortably from French Endeavour and Mollyknickers.

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Grizinger Belle wins The Vanity

The colts equivalent of The Vanity, the C S Hayes Stakes, followed and 2023 Victorian Derby winner, Riff Rocket, surprised everyone with a solid victory, running from the tail of the field to overtake King Colorado and score the bickies. Verdad ran third.

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Riff Rocket wins the C S Hayes Stakes

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Riff Rocket on his way to barriers

Flemington was in Carnival mode with a small band entertaining the crowd and stilt walkers cruising the public lawn.

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Stilt walker posing for photograph.

It wasn’t all that crowded last Saturday so it was easy to get around when seeking shade from the sun.

The feature event was of course the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning. It was renamed in Black Caviar’s honour in 2013 to recognise her dominance in the event. She won it three years consecutively from 2011 to 2013.

Imperatriz was the hot favourite this year and she won by a short margin after overtaking Private Eye in the straight.

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Imperatriz returns to scale

Calling it quits after the Black Caviar Lightning I headed home, pleased to have attended to have seen Imperatriz win yet again.

Her next race I assume will be the Group 1 William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley in late March – I’ve already  purchased a ticket!.

Next Saturday I plan to go to the Blue Diamond Stakes meeting at Caulfield.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

New Year 2024

Another year done and dusted and a brand new one starts.

I’m just glad that I’m still alive, though life gets more boring as one’s age advances.

There are however some things to look forward to, such as new books by favourite authors and perhaps some new music in the offing as well.

And of course I’m still waiting to receive the long ago ordered numbered edition of John Crowley’s wonderful novel, Little, Big.

According to the latest news, this edition is expected to be mailed in January this year. Cross fingers, after waiting for nineteen years, I may have it in my hands in February or March, barring World War III or some dire Climate Change disaster preventing delivery.

The upcoming Autumn Racing Carnival somewhat piques my interest, even though I’m feeling a tad too old to attend, but stoic that I am I’ll probably head out to the track a few times.

In the mean time I wish any readers of this blog a Happy New Year.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Thousand Guineas Day at Caulfield

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Joliestar wins the 2023 Thousand Guineas

Melbourne Racing Club has scheduled the Thousand Guineas at various times over the years. For some time it was run on Caulfield Guineas Day, and at other times contested at a mid week meeting during the Caulfield Cup mini carnival.

This year however it was held on Saturday afternoon with the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes added as an extra attraction. Also it was the last Melbourne race meeting for well known jockey Damien Oliver. He seems to have been around forever, but he is to retire at the end of the year.

If I had realised that public transport disruptions made it difficult to get to Caulfield by train, I would not have attended, as it seemed last Saturday that I spent more time travelling to and from the race course, than I passed at the track.

It’s normally pretty easy to get to Caulfield by train, several lines servicing the station, so I set off in the early afternoon and arrived at Flinders Street around 1.30pm.

From there it got tricky, as I discovered after making enquiries at Flinders Street on how to get to Caulfield, being told that I needed to take a train to Burnley Station from where I could connect with a train replacement bus.

As I wasn’t in a great rush and had plenty of time in hand I took the train to Burnley Station and found the replacement bus stop after quite a long walk, and eventually was on an express bus to Caulfield.

So it was getting close to 3.00 pm by the time I reached Caulfield Racecourse.

I was on time and at the fence to watch and photograph Race 6, the Group 3, Blue Sapphire Stakes, a race for three year olds over 1400 metres.

Run Harry Run proved the winner, fighting out the finish with Brave Mead. Arkansaw Kid filled third place.

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Run Harry Run (blue & red) & Brave Mead neck and neck down the straight

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Arkansaw Kid running third

Having taken so long to get to the track, the first of the Group 1 races was up next, this being the Thousand Guineas.

Coeur Volante started as favourite, but Joliestar was dominant at the finish, winning by over a length from Kimochi with Skybird running third.

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Joliestar returns to scale

The Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes was the next to run and a field of 16 runners were contesting the 1400 metre race.

It resulted in Magic Time winning the prize from I Am Me and Straight Acer, running wide to overtake the leaders, finishing a good length in front of I Am Me.

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Magic Time overtakes I Am Me to win the 2023 Rupert Clarke Stakes

I did not stay for the final two races and thus missed Damien Oliver’s farewell after the last race, opting to catch the tram – a longish scenic journey through the Eastern suburbs that eventually delivered me to Flinders Street Station from where I took a train home.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Champions Stakes Day at Flemington

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As the sign above the gate to the Mounting Yard proclaimed, it was Champion’s Stakes Day at Flemington, the last day of the Flemington Melbourne Cup mini carnival, so forth I went last Saturday to catch the action.

There were three Group 1 races on the card, a sprint – the Champions Sprint, a race over 1600 metres dubbed the Champions Mile and the Champions Stakes, run over 2000 metres.

Quality fields had accepted on the day, making it worth attending.

I was particularly interested in seeing Imperatriz, the super New Zealand mare, running in the sprint.

It was a coolish kind of day, a chill wind spoiling the afternoon somewhat despite the bright sunshine.

As the Group 1 races were scheduled for mid to late afternoon, I took my time getting to Flemington, arriving around 2.00 pm, just before the running of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

I watched the race from a distance and noted that Muramasa was the winner with Ladies Man running second ahead of Duke de Sessa.

From there I made my way up to the stalls area to see who had arrived and came across several of the Group 1  runners, such as Imperatriz.

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Alligator Blood

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Pride of Jenni

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It was a well patronised race meeting, but not that hard to get through the crowd of scantily dressed girls to my preferred spot on the fence, from where I managed some photo practice in Race 5, the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes, where a field of mares were set to run the 2000 metres.

Deny Knowledge led from the start to the finish and won narrowly from Osmose and Amokura.

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Deny Knowledge prevails over Osmose and Amokura

The next race was the first of the Group 1  events, this being the Champions Sprint where Imperatriz won her fifth Group 1 in succession, defeating a classy field. Buenes Noches ran second ahead of In Secret and Espiona finished fourth.

As the field raced down the centre of the track fairly close to the outer rail it is always difficult to get clear photos of the finish. Fortunately I clicked at the right time and snapped Imperatriz in shot.

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Imperatriz wins the Champions Sprint

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Imperatriz returns to scale

The next two races resulted in unexpected long shot winners, the Champions Mile being won by Pride of Jenni who led from the start and was never challenged. Mr Brightside finished second ahead of Alligator Blood.

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Pride of Jenni zooms up the straight to win the Champions Mile

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The placegetters – Mr Brightside, Alligator Blood & Fangirl

The Chris Waller trained Atishu triumphed in the Champions Stakes, easily beating Duais by almost two lengths with Young Werther running third.

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Atishu wins the Champions Stakes

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Atishu on her way to the barriers

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Duais on her way to the barriers

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Young Werther on his way to the barriers

I didn’t stay for the final race, heading home directly after the Champions Stakes.

Next week Caulfield host the final Melbourne Group 1 races of the Spring Racing season, the Thousand Guineas and the Rupert Clarke Stakes.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Rocket Man – Victoria Derby Review

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Riff Rocket wins the 2023 Victoria Derby

It wasn’t what you would call a first class race meeting, but as Derby Day at Flemington kicks off the Melbourne Cup mini carnival I decided to attend.

The weather was fine and mostly sunny with light winds, so it was a pleasant day to be outdoors and soak up some Vitamin D along with the racing action.

As trains to the track were running all afternoon I had no trouble getting to Flemington and arrived just before Race 3, which happened to be the Group 3 Furphy Sprint, run over 1100 metres.

Either I’m out of the loop, or perhaps just jaded as far as horse racing is concerned, but few of the contenders for the Furphy Sprint were familiar to me.

Queen of The Ball won the race from Hypothetical and Dancing Alone quite easily.

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Queen of The Ball wins the Furphy Sprint

Next up was the Group 3 Rising Fast Stakes over 1200 metres, which resulted in a narrow win for Spacewalk from Crosshaven with Najem Suhail running third.

On a side note, Rising Fast who won the 1954 Melbourne Cup was a first class racehorse who also won the Caulfield Cup in 1954 and 1955,  as well as the 1954 Cox Plate, and is the first racehorse I was ever aware of back in 1954 at the tender age of seven when living in the bush. 

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Newspaper photo of Rising Fast from my old racehorse scrap book

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Spacewalk and Crosshaven fight out the Rising Fast Stakes finish

Race 5 was the rather more interesting Group 2 Wakeful Stakes, a race over 2000 metres for fillies, where Amazonian Lass, leading from the start, hung on for a close win from Zardozi.

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Amazonian Lass (yellow) wins the Wakeful Stakes from Zardozi

Derby Day included three Group 1 races, the first of these being the Coolmore Stud Stakes. Run over 1200 metres,  it is a race for three year olds and the 2023 edition resulted in a win for Sydney colt Ozzmosis who raced on the pace throughout to win by over a length from I’m Unstoppable with 2023 Golden Slipper winner Shinzo running third.

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Ozzmosis (white) overtaking I’m Unstoppable and Shinzo to win the Coolmore Stud Stakes

Unlike Caulfield who schedule the feature races towards the end of the program, Flemington run theirs mid afternoon. so the Victoria Derby was up next at the reasonable time of 4.20 pm.

Riff Rocket started as the short odds favourite and raced in the back end of the field. He stormed home to win narrowly from Apulia and Sunsets in a photo finish.

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Riff Rocket wins the Victoria Derby 

I didn’t stay for the third Group 1, the Empire Rose Stakes which was won by Pride of Jenni who led from start to finish. Atishu ran second and Life lessons third.

Attending Derby Day has put me off going to the Melbourne Cup that I was contemplating doing. I’d forgotten how tedious Spring racing crowds can be, even though Derby Day was not as crowded as some I’ve been to.

Besides, the weather on Melbourne Cup day is forecast to be pretty awful.

I managed to catch the train back to Flinders Street in no time at all and was glad to sit down on a seat that was not a plastic fold out stool.

Last year I thought Champions Stakes Day  a superior meeting to Derby Day,  so will probably attend it next Saturday and hope for classier fields than those on offer last Saturday.