Monday, March 20, 2023

All Things Bright and Beautiful

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Mr Brightside wins the 2023 All Star Mile

When heading off to the races you never really know how the afternoon will play out, the weather, along with the racing action, making the experience unexpected.

Last Saturday the weather was pretty awful, overcast for the main with gusty winds, making it unpleasant for this contact lens wearer.

Anyway, it was All Star Mile Day at Moonee Valley and I had a ticket, so forth I went on the trusty 510 Bus, arriving around 2.00 pm.

Surprisingly it wasn’t all that crowded, so it was easy to get a good position on the fence from which to take photos of the action.

I tested the camera in Race 4 and noticed that the light was not ideal.

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Race 4 charge up the straight – winner Bel Air is furthest left

I gave Race 5 a miss, and hung around in the stalls area for awhile before deciding I needed more photo practice before the main event.

Race 6 was the Listed Abell Stakes run over 1200 metres, so I returned to the fence and managed to get better photos of the action. I saw the fall of Florescent Star from a distance, and was dismayed to see the green screen go up, as she was euthanised.

She’s All Class won from In The Boat and Mileva.

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Race 6 – She’s All Class is furthest left in olive green silks

As the All Star Mile was up next, I stayed where I was on the fence. The fall in the previous race delayed the start by over half an hour. The sun briefly emerged from the cloud cover, but didn’t hang around for the feature event.

A bit of pomp and circumstance  in the form of girls marching out on to the track with flags signalled that the race was not far off.

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Here are photos of some of the contenders as they made their way to the barriers.

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Alligator Blood

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Mr Brightside

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My Oberon

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The Inevitable

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Sheeza Belter

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So Si Bon

As All Star Mile fields go, it wasn’t the most interesting by any means, but the race itself was worth waiting for.

No doubt the Hayes brothers were delighted with Mr Brightside’s victory.  Cascadian finished second and Tassie champ The Inevitable ran third, just ahead of Alligator Blood.

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Another photo of Mr Brightside winning the All Star Mile

And so ended another All Star Mile, after which I headed home.

With the delay in proceedings at Moonee Valley, I did manage to see the Sydney races on the Big Screen, where Anamoe won the George Ryder Stakes and Shinzo was victorious in the Golden Slipper,  giving trainer Chris Waller his first Golden Slipper trophy.

Next Saturday is the last Group 1 meeting of the Melbourne Autumn Carnival and is at Flemington, where the Australian Cup is the feature event.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Secret Girl Power–Super Saturday Review

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In Secret wins the 2023 Newmarket Handicap

When I set out to catch a train to Flemington, I was hoping to get there in time to watch Race 3,  the Group 2, Kewney Stakes, but I missed it. It was won by Revolutionary Miss.

Rather than head for my usual spot on the western lawn, I decided to check out the stalls area first and get some photos of the Newmarket Handicap contenders, though I only came across a few.

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I Wish I Win – the Newmarket starting favourite

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Last year’s Newmarket winner Roch ’N’ Horse

2019 Melbourne Cup winner Vow and Declare was also present, set to run in the Australian Cup Prelude later in the afternoon.

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Vow and Declare

Whilst I was dilly dallying in the stalls area, I missed getting back  to my usual spot to photograph the Group 2 Sires Produce Stakes. I did however manage to watch the field charging down the straight and noticed the two riderless horses, though mercifully missed the falls that resulted in jockeys Craig Williams and Jamie Kah being transported to hospital. Both horses, Flyball and Dubenenko, were alright thank goodness.

This alarming incident delayed proceedings for the rest of the afternoon, so the next race, the Group 2  Matron Stakes was run half an hour after its scheduled start.

By the rime it was run I had managed to get to my favourite spot and was able to get photos of the action.

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Sirileo Miss wins the Matron Stakes

Sirileo Miss led from start and won by over three lengths from Excelida and Barb Raider.

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Sirileo Miss on her way to the barriers

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Excelida (checks) and Barb Raider fill the placings

It was a pleasant sunny day trackside, so not that onerous to kill time between the rescheduled races, and there wasn’t much of crowd present either.

Next up was the Australian Cup Prelude, run over 2000 metres.

Right You Are started as favourite and prevailed, holding off Vow and Declare to win by over a length. Emissary ran third.

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Right You Are wins the Australian Cup Prelude from Vow and Declare

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Right You Are on his way to barriers

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Vow and Declare on his way to the barriers

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Emissary on his way to the barriers

The feature Newmarket Handicap was next up. It had attracted a super field of classy sprinters. I Wish I Win started as favourite, but sole three year old filly In Secret thrashed the field to win convincingly from Lofty Strike with I Wish I Win running third.

Luckily, In Secret raced down the centre of the track, so I was able to get some good photos of her winning the race.

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Another shot of In Secret winning the Newmarket Handicap

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Lofty Strike runs second

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In Secret returns to scale

By this time, what with the delay caused by the falls in Race 4, it was after 5.00pm, so I called it quits and headed for the station and home.

It’s interesting that the two recent Flemington Group 1 sprint races were won by three year old fillies, no doubt in part due to the light weight they were allotted to carry.

Next Saturday I’m heading to Moonee Valley for the running of the All Star Mile, but I will be returning to Flemington for Australian Cup Day  on 25th March.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Coolangatta Lightning

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Coolangatta winning the 2023 Black Caviar Lightning

Her name may be the same as the Gold Coast town, but three year old filly, Coolangatta, was the heroine of Melbourne after her determined win in the feature race at Flemington on Saturday afternoon.

This was my first outing to the racetrack since the Spring Racing Carnival, and I chose well, as the afternoon was sunny but not overly hot after a cool change on Friday brought a welcome end  to the three day heat wave.

Obliged by the Flemington Racecourse train timetable, I arrived at the track in time to witness Race 3, the Talindert Stakes for two year old contenders, run over over 1100 metres. In the past this race has been won by classy youngsters, such as All Too Hard in 2012.

Flemington wasn’t crowded by any means, so it was easy to get around, so I headed directly to my favourite spot on the Western Front Lawn to get some photo practice before the main event later in the day.

Maharba started as the favourite and won the race by a length from Hell Queen with Tacito running third.

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Maharba wins the Talindert Stakes

I decided  that I didn’t mind missing Race 4, the Asian Racing Federation Trophy, so made my way to the stalls area to get photos of the main contenders in the feature Black Caviar Lightning.

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Nature Strip – favourite for the Lightning

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I Wish I Win

Race 5 was the more interesting Tony Bourke Memorial, usually run as the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes over 1400 metres and for fillies and mares.

Annavisto who won the race last year, started as the warm favourite was victorious again , leading from the start to win by over three lengths from Wrote to Arataki with Excelida running third.

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Annavisto crosses the finish line unopposed

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Annavisto returns to scale

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Wrote to Arataki on her way to the barriers

As the Black Caviar Lightning was scheduled as as Race 7, there was still one more race to run before the feature. This was the  Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes for three year old colts and geldings and also run over 1400 metres

A large field of 14 starters were contesting the event with the favourite being Bank Maur. He ended up unplaced with victory going to Elliptical who narrowly won from Holymanz and Maximillius.

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A wall of horses crosses the finish line in the CS Hayes – Elliptical is the widest in red silks

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Elliptical on his way to the barriers

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Holymanz on his way to the barriers

A pretty good field had accepted for the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning and included Nature Strip, acknowledged as the world’s top sprinter.  He naturally was the hot favourite, but was disappointing, failing to run a place. The sole three year old filly Coolangatta, taking advantage of her weight advantage, and skilfully steered by top Jockey Jamie Kah, won the prize from the fast finishing I Wish I Win with Bella Nipotina filling third place, just ahead of September Run.

It  was a surprise result, but Coolangatta is no slouch as a race horse having won the 2022 Magic Millions 2yo Classic and also the Group 1 Moir Stakes last year. It will be interesting to see how she performs in the future.

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Bella Nipotina and Coolangatta return to scale side by side

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Coolangatta returns to scale

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I Wish I Win returns to scale

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Nature Strip returns to scale

The run of the race was no doubt I Wish I Win, who ran from last at the speed of lightning to narrowly miss out on winning.

He’s also one to watch for in the future.

I called it  quits after that and headed home, glad to have witnessed yet another exciting running of the Black Caviar Lightning and seeing Nature Strip once more. He’s now 8 years old and in the twilight of his illustrious career, so there won’t be many more chances to see him in action in the future.

Monday, January 30, 2023

The Waiting Game

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Sophie – a recent photo

Here we are in a brand new year and I’ve been slack, feeling uninspired to write a blog post.

So far in 2023, nothing much has happened, life trundling along as normal as we grow older by the year.

Life without expectation of treats is not worth living, but I this year I am eagerly anticipating finally receiving my long ago ordered copy of the 25th anniversary edition of John Crowley’s wonderful novel Little, Big.

It was in February 2005 that I subscribed to obtain a Numbered Edition of the book, so I’m living in high hopes that it will be delivered before mid year. Already,  some subscribers to the standard Trade Edition have received their copies, but alas the Numbered Edition is delayed, due to  issues in the manufacture of the Slip Cases. Hopefully those issues will be resolved soon.

Even though I have been patiently waiting for 18 years, somehow it has now become excruciating the closer it gets to actual delivery.

Fortunately there are other distractions to ease the waiting, such as the Autumn Racing Carnival.

Caulfield racecourse is being renovated this  summer/autumn, so the Group races are being run at Sandown, not a track I have any intention of attending, so I’ll miss witnessing in person the Blue Diamond Stakes and other Group 1 races that are normally run at Caulfield. Luckily Flemington and Moonee Valley are sticking to the regular program of events, so I’ll attend a few in February and March, and have already purchased tickets to Lightning Stakes Day at Flemington and the All Star Mile at Moonee Valley.

Meanwhile on the domestic front, our cat Sophie rules the house.

She is almost a year old now, but still has Attitude with capital A, and is vengeful if thwarted, though not as violent as she was as a kitten.

My niece recently visited with her youngest daughter who is five years old, but surprisingly Sophie behaved quite civilly despite the daughter picking her up and carrying her around without being bitten or scratched.

She spends most of the day sleeping inside the house, but we try to keep her  in at night, even though she resents being confined and will turn into the cat from hell in the blink of an eye, before finally settling down for the night

Monday, November 07, 2022

The Stars of the Turf– Champion Stakes Day Review

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Sign above Mounting Yard Gate at Flemington 5/10/22

Melbourne racing’s answer to Sydney, Champion Stakes Day, used to be called Emirates Stakes Day, and featured two Group 1 races – the Mackinnon Stakes and Darley Sprint Classic. It was also known as family day and was, and still is, the final race day of Flemington’s Melbourne Cup mini carnival. Generally it was a pleasant afternoon at the races and less crowded than Derby Day.

This year, however Racing Victoria launched a new concept race meeting that actually was better than Derby Day last weekend. It featured three Group 1 events, a sprint over 1200 metres, a mile race over 1600 metres and a middle distance competition over 2000 metres and had attracted quality fields in each.  What’s not to love in keen contests between class horses such as Nature Strip versus Giga Kick in the Champions Sprint, Anamoe versus Zaaki in the Champions Stakes and Alligator Blood versus Private Eye in the Champions Mile

The day dawned dry with a promise of sunshine, so it was a pleasure to set out for the big track and soak up the Group 1 action along with Vitamin D.

As trains to Flemington were running all afternoon at regular intervals, I took my time getting to the track and arrived as Race 3, the Amanda Elliot was in the process of running.

I had no trouble using my mobile ticket this time, having saved it to my phone for easy access.

The horses were returning to scale as I made it out onto the public lawn, so was was able to snap the winner, Magic Time heading for the mounting yard after the race.

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Magic Time returns to scale after winning the Amanda Elliott

As there was plenty of time in hand until the next race, I decided to head to the stalls and see who had arrived. Most of the horses I was interested in were present, so for a change I got some stalls shots.

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Nature Strip

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Giga Kick

Whilst I was cruising around the stalls I missed Race 4, the Queens Cup, so failed to get a photo of the highly regarded Irish import Soulcombe who won it by over two lengths from Luncies and Captain Envious.

The next race was the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes, run over 2000 metres for mares, so I headed for my favourite spot just past the winning post and there I stayed for the rest of the afternoon.

The Chris Waller trained Atishu was the winner by two lengths from Steinem with Tokorangi running third.

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Atishu wins the Matriarch Stakes

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Atishu on her way to the barriers

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Steinem on her way to the barriers

The next three races were the Group 1 Champions events, starting off with the Champions Sprint.

Nature Strip naturally started as the hot favourite, but this time he was outgunned by 20/1 shot Roch ‘N’ Horse who won by a narrow margin. Baller finished third.

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Jockey Jamie Mott celebrates Roch ‘N’ Horse’s victory in the Champion’s Sprint

Roch ‘N’ Horse obviously has an affinity with the Flemington straight as she won the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap there in Autumn.

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Nature Strip returns to scale

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Baller returns to scale

Favourites were rolled in the next two races as well.

In the Champions Mile, Alligator Blood, racing on the pace held on to win by half a length from Tuvalu and Mr Brightside. Favourite Private Eye finished seventh.

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Alligator Blood wins the Champions Mile from Tuvalu

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Alligator Blood on his way to the barriers

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Tuvalu on his way to the barriers

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Mr Brightside returns to scale

It was good to see Alligator Blood back in winning circles after undergoing treatment for a back problem, and  after all the controversy of his ownership, which at one time banned him from racing in Melbourne.

Last year Zaaki took out the Mackinnon Stakes as the Champions Stakes used to be known, and he repeated the feat  this year, leading from the start to the finish to win narrowly from stablemate Mo’unga with outsider Hezashocka relegated to third after a successful protest from Nash Rawiller, Mo’unga’s jockey. Anamoe started as firm favourite, but finished fourth.

When heading out for the barriers, Zaaki unseated his jockey Jamie Kah, but she quickly remounted and all was well.

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Zaaki unseats Jamie Kah on his way to the barriers

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Zaaki resumes heading for the barriers

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Zaaki wins the Champions Stakes

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Mo’unga (white cap) and Hezashocka vie for second place

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Mo’unga on his way to the barriers

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Hezashocka on his way to the barriers

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Zaaki returns to scale

There was one more race on the card but I did not stay for it, heading to the station and home after the Champions Stakes.

It had been a fine afternoon of first class racing action, and despite the crowds, which were larger than Derby Day, I was pleased to be in attendance after missing it for two years due to Covid restrictions.

So from now on my Saturday afternoons will be free, though I may attend the Zipping Classic meeting at Caulfield a few weeks hence.