Friday, September 27, 2013

Hoping for Miracles Again – The Spring Racing Carnival Continues

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Miracles of Life with trainer Daniel Clarken – Caulfield 31 August 2013

Due to the AFL Grand Final there is no city race meeting this Saturday. Instead, Moonee Valley kicks off its season of night racing tonight, featuring the Group One A J Moir Stakes. And on Sunday, Caulfield hosts the running of the Group One Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.

Originally I was not going to attend the races this weekend, but as Miracles of Life will be contesting the Group Three Champagne Stakes at Moonee Valley, I have changed my mind. After her failure in the HDF McNeil Stakes in August, this race will be her chance to make amends.  It is a much easier race for her compared to the McNeil Stakes and she’s back against her own sex, who she should account for easily. Mildly threatening are Metastasio, Thump and Ruude Awakening.

The feature race is scheduled for 10.00pm, so I’m not sticking around for it, but will watch it when I get home. The A J Moir Stakes, recently known as the Schweppes Stakes, used to be run on Cox Plate day as a Group Two race, but it has been moved to the opening night of the Moonee Valley night racing season, and elevated to Group One status. It has been won by champions; Black Caviar won it twice (2010/2011), Apache Cat, Miss Andretti to name a few.

Buffering won it last year, and is a top chance to win it again this year. For such a consistent sprinter, he has yet to win a Group One.  He will be challenged by top class sprinters Bel Sprinter and Epaulette, and classy mares Snitzerland and Samaready.

By Sunday the AFL Grand Final will hopefully be done and dusted, so Sunday’s racing card at Caulfield will be of interest to those who cannot live without the thrill of competition.

The feature race is the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, for middle distance runners over 1400 metres.  Moment of Change won it last year, but it is harder to pick the winner for this year’s edition. I’m kind of hoping Linton, who won the Queensland Stradbroke Handicap at long odds back in June and won me a very handsome sum, will prove his class and snatch another win at good odds, but he is less favourably weighted this time, so may be at a disadvantage because of it. Solzhenitsyn has been in good form of late and is one of the main chances, along with Ferlax who recently ran second to Atlantic Jewel in the Memsie Stakes. Others in the picture are Rebel Dane, Speediness who is in fantastically good form having won his last two starts, and Lidari who won his last start at Caulfield before running third to Fiorente in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes.

I won’t be going to the meeting at Caulfield, but will watch it at home for a change.

Other news this week was the announcement that my long time favourite Sydney racehorse Shoot Out has been retired. He was a grand old trooper who won 10 races and placed in 11, out of 37 starts. Five of his wins were at Group One level. He was the last of the High Chap boys of 2010 still racing and always acquitted himself competitively in quality races. He will spend his twilight years on his owners property in Queensland, and no doubt will be cherished into old age.

UPPDATE- Saturday

Unfortunately Miracles of Life was “thumped” in the Champagne Stakes, that is she was beaten by Thump, who led throughout. Miracles raced much more quietly last night, but left her run too late and was unable to catch the winner. I Love It ran third.

Samaready won the Group One Moir Stakes by four lengths from the eternal bridesmaid Buffering. I did not witness it in person, having left Moonee Valley after the running of race 6, but watched it at home. Lucky I left when I did, as a rain storm hit 15 minutes later, by which time I was snug on a bus on my way home.

I must admit I’m not a big fan of night racing, though there were plenty of people who were at the track who would beg to differ.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dundeel Steals Jewel’s Glory – Underwood Stakes Day Review

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It’s A Dundeel in the walking ring at Caulfield

The track at Caulfield on Saturday was rated a slow 6, which in terms of surface give indicates a mildly rain affected track, so wet form was not really a factor all day, though by the feature race the track must have been somewhat the worse for wear.

Not that it really affected the outcome of the Underwood Stakes, as both It’s A Dundeel and Atlantic Jewel, not known as wet trackers, fought out a thrilling finish down the straight.

Fortunately the weather was fine all afternoon, slightly overcast, but pleasant for spending a few hours trackside. I arrived at Caulfield at about 1.30 pm in time to watch the running of Race 4, the Inglis Bonus Handicap (1700 metres). It was won by Rockford from Epic Saga with Le Mans running third.

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Race 4 finish – Rockford takes the lead in the straight

The first of the Group races was up next and I wanted to get some photos of Catkins.

Here she is in the parade ring…

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Catkins in the parade ring before her race

…and on her way to starting gates.

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Catkins on her way to the barriers before winning the Sporting Bet Sprint Heat 2 Stakes

Catkins scored a narrow win from Hi Belle and Flash of Doubt. I had a small wager on her so was delighted when she won. She appears to be thriving in Melbourne, normally being based in Sydney as part of Chris Waller’s stable. Her silks are the famous cerise of the Inglis family, who are indeed her owners.

I spent the greater part of the afternoon out near the stalls area, as there was a fairly large crowd in attendance yesterday, and it was peaceful and quiet with only the horses and few interested onlookers. There was however a large gathering outside Atlantic Jewel’s stall…

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Crowd outside Atlantic Jewel’s stall.

I waited until she taken for a walk in the ring, before taking photos of her.

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Atlantic Jewel in the walking ring

Other contenders for the feature race were also being perambulated at the same time.

Manighar – something of a handful for his strapper

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Puissance de Lune – feeling frisky

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Sea Moon

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It’s A Dundeel

It’s A Dundeel is a surprisingly small neat horse - no wonder he’s been nicknamed the “pocket rocket”. He certainly proved his class in the Underwood Stakes. He has never won in Melbourne before or in open company, and is the first horse to beat Atlantic Jewel, so he’s something special.  I keenly look forward to his next start.

So on to the race…

It was an unusually run race from the start. Atlantic Jewel took up the lead from Dear Demi with It’s A Dundeel uncharacteristically just behind them. He’s normally a back marker, but his jockey James McDonald made a snap decision to keep pace with the star mare and for quite a way through the race Atlantic Jewel and It’s A Dundeel raced side by side.  Down the straight they raced together, the mare slightly ahead until just before the finish line where It’s A Dundeel pounced to win by a nose. It was a thrilling contest, a classic race finish that promises more riveting action when they meet again.  Atlantic Jewel had the hardest contest of her career and acquitted herself admirably. It’s a pity it could not have been a dead heat.  Dear Demi ran third. Puissance de Lune was too far back to challenge, but ran the fastest time in the last 600ms to come from near last into sixth place.  Interestingly, the five front runners – Atlantic Jewel, Dear Demi, It’s A Dundeel, Happy Trails and Manighar – all finished more or less in that order. Perhaps the track was affected after all, as the back markers made no progress in the straight.

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It’s A Dundeel in the winners rug after the Underwood Stakes

In Sydney, the George Main Stakes was taken out by Streama, from Royal Descent with Veyron running third.

Though there are two Group One races coming up next weekend, the Schweppes Stakes on Friday night at Moonee Valley and the Rupert Clark Stakes on Sunday at Caulfield, I probably will not go to either. I don’t want to become jaded with live racing, so will save myself for the Turnbull Stakes meeting at Flemington the following weekend.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Moon & the Stars – The Underwood Stakes

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Atlantic Jewel at Moonee Valley

Wow! The excitement is building as the spring racing carnival gathers momentum. Next Saturday Caulfield Race Course features the Group One Underwood Stakes. Run over 1800 metres it has attracted a 5 star field of acceptances, that includes glamour mare Atlantic Jewel aiming for her perfect 10.  Remember what a big deal it was when Black Caviar was gunning for the same number of wins in the 2011 Newmarket Handicap? No doubt if Atlantic Jewel prevails she will well and truly become the ruling star of the turf, if she is not one already.

Caulfield offers free entry on Saturday, so I’ll be there for sure. The feature race is the last on the cards again, but fortunately the most interesting races are towards the end of the day, so I’ll anticipate arriving around 2.00pm, so it won’t be such a long day as the Memsie Stakes meeting.

So, the Underwood Stakes

My loyalties will be torn again, as along with Atlantic Jewel, other favourites Puissance de Lune and It’s A Dundeel will be contesting the race, making it a truly fascinating competition. Throw in Foreteller who pipped Puissance de Lune in the Makybe Diva Stakes, two more moons in Green Moon and Sea Moon, classy New Zealand mare Silent Achiever and old trooper Manighar and you certainly have a top class race. 

It is Atlantic Jewel’s hardest race yet. She will start as the favourite at short odds. It is rare to see horses of the calibre of Puissance de Lune and It’s A Dundeel at odds of 7/1 and 9/1 respectively, so it would be worth putting an each way wager on both, should Atlantic Jewel fall short of expectations, but I fervently hope that she prevails.

Before the feature event there are a two Group Three races and one Group Two.

The first of the Group 3 races is the Sporting Bet Sprint Series Heat 2 Stakes (1200 metres) for mares, which has a nice field of well performed runners. The Sydney mare Catkins has a good chance in this especially if the track is on the soft side. She ran a close second to Commanding Jewel in the Let’s Elope Stakes a fortnight ago. Her main rivals will be Octavia who has a good record at Caulfield, the Darren Weir trained Lake Sententia who has winning form from the autumn, and A Time For Julia who ran third in the Let’s Elope Stakes and has the Peter Moody/Luke Nolen/Caulfield factor in her favour.

The Group Three Naturalism Stakes (2000 metres) has a full field (16) of stayers hoping to qualify for the Caulfield Cup. The winner of this race is guaranteed a start.  It’s a mix of locally bred stayers and imports, so it’s a hard race to call. On form, Brisbane Cup winner Quintessential looks the top pick, along with recent Heatherlie Handicap winner Ibicenco, and Pakal and Mr O’Ceirin who have run places earlier in the season. Also in with a chance is Let’s Make Adeal who ran fourth in the Makybe Diva Stakes.

A group of talented fillies will be fighting out the Group Two Thousand Guineas Prelude over 1400 metres.  You’ve got Quezette Stakes winner Kiss A Rose, the highly regarded Gregers, The Huntress and last start winners Marianne, Politeness and Miracle to Me.

Another Group One race is featured in Sydney at Randwick. It’s the George Main Stakes run over 1600 metres. It has a top field that includes my old favourite Shoot Out who won this race last year.  He’s now seven years old so is getting on in years, but he loves Randwick and has won on the course four times.  He is however up against some really classy runners, such as Doncaster winner Sacred Falls, Queensland Derby winner Hawkspur and ATC Oaks winner Royal Descent, who are all his younger stable mates trained by Chris Waller. Also in the picture is super smart mare Streama  who could well be in the finish and Golden Rose runner up Dissident, a lightweight chance.

Familiar names have aroused my interest in the outcome of the last race on the cards at Randwick. The Shorts is a sprint over 1100 metres and has good old Hay List on his second run back from an injury enforced break. He didn’t do too badly last start, finishing fifth behind Decision Time in the Concorde Stakes, but I fear his best days are behind him, so don’t really see him winning this.  Also part of the field is Manawanui who hasn’t raced since finishing well back in the Doomben 10,000 in May. He was an extremely promising horse back in his younger days winning the 2011 Golden Rose, but he hasn’t won a race since Cox Plate day 2011.  The top pick in the race is Sessions who will most probably fight out the finish with Decision Time, Hidden Warrior and the interesting, but underrated Aeronautical.

So bring on Saturday, it’s exciting stuff. Hopefully the weather will continue to be pleasant and dry as has been case on each race day so far this spring.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mood Indigo/Froth on the Daydream

For a change from racing…

This afternoon I took the opportunity to go and see the new Michel Gondry film Mood Indigo and emerged from the theatre as from a dream into the real world.

I don’t go to many films, but I really wanted to see this one because it is based on a novel I loved in my youth – Froth on the  Daydream by Boris Vian, and I was curious to see how Gondry would render it on screen. The reviews led me to believe that it was faithful to the book, so really it was a must see.


Froth on the Daydream is one of the oddest and most surreal novels ever written. Every sentence sparkles with wit and invention, for example:

”The corridor leading to the kitchen was light because it had windows on both sides, and a sun shining behind each of them because Colin was fond of bright things. There were metal taps, brilliantly polished and gleaming, all over the place. The suns playing on the taps produced fairytale effects. The kitchen mice liked to dance to the sounds made by the rays of the suns as they bounced off the taps, and then run after the little bubbles that the rays burst into when they hit the ground like sprays of golden mercury.”

The story is fairly simple; it is a love story involving Colin a lonely rich boy and Chloe, the girl he falls in love with who succumbs to an infection when her lungs are invaded by a water lily. Also featured are Colin’s friends - Chick, who is obsessed by the literary works of Jean-Paul Sartre, who is known in the novel as Jean Pulse Heartre, or in another translation as Jean Sol Partre, Nicholas his cook and Chick’s girlfriend Lisa. 

However, what makes the book remarkable is the style in which it is written, and Vian’s astonishingly surreal imagination.

Beginning in bright sunshine and gayness, where Colin and his friends celebrate their youth and good fortune at the skating rink, at parties, dining often on the peculiar food that Nicholas serves up, the onset of Chloe’s illness leads to darkness and despair by the end of the novel.

One of my favourite minor characters in the novel is the grey mouse with black whiskers who is the first to notice that the mood has changed from sunshine to shadow, when he sees that the suns no longer play in the corridor.

In the final pages of the novel the mouse commits suicide thus:

“'Why should you care?' asked the cat. 'Is he unhappy?'

'He's not unhappy,' said the mouse, 'he's grieving. And that's what I can't bear. One day he'll fall into the water through leaning over too far.'

'Well,' said the cat, 'if that's the way it is, I'll see what I can do for you - although I don't know why I said "If that's the way it is", because I really don't understand what all the fuss is about.'

'It's very kind of you,' said the mouse.

'Just put your head in my mouth,' said the cat.

'Will it take long?' asked the mouse.

'Only until somebody treads on my tail, said the cat. 'I only need something to make me jump. But I'll leave it stretched out, so don't worry.'

The mouse opened the cat's jaws and placed its head between the sharp teeth. It pulled it out again almost as quickly.

'Ugh!' it said. 'Did you have shark for breakfast?'

'Now look here,' said the cat, 'if you don't like it, you can clear off. The whole story's a bore. You'll have to manage by yourself.'

It seemed angry.

'Don't go mad,' said the mouse.

It closed its little black eyes and put its head back. The cat let its pointed teeth close delicately on the soft grey throat. The mouse's black whiskers brushed against the cat's. The cat's bushy tail unrolled right across the pavement.

The voices of eleven little girls from the Orphanage of Pope John the Twenty third could be heard getting nearer. They were singing. And they were blind.”

My personal copy of the novel, which I have been rereading in order to appreciate the movie, is the first edition hard cover from 1967 and Stanley Chapman is the translator. I originally read the novel in a Penguin paperback, long since lost, so obviously acquired the hard cover to replace it. It’s a rare book these days and is being sold on Amazon and ABE for over $200; not a bad appreciation in price considering I paid $3.75 for the book in 1976.

I’m glad I reread the novel before seeing the film, as it would be a puzzling film if you hadn’t at some stage read the book. Today in the theatre there were only three people in the audience, including me and my friend M, so it’s not wildly popular.

In my opinion Gondry’s film is a winner, because it stays true to the novel, rendering in film all the marvellous inventions and oddities contained in the book.  The two main characters, Colin and Chloe,  played by Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou, are attractively and sincerely portrayed.  I found  Mood Indigo to be one of the best translations of a novel to film that I’ve ever seen.  It was highly enjoyable, always engaging and also emotionally involving. I even had to brush away tears towards the end.

Critics have decried the constant barrage of special effects in the film, but obviously they have never read the novel. If they had they would have realised that Gondry was translating the novel to film with as much fidelity to the writing as was technically possible.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Scintillating Jewel Wins Again – An afternoon at Moonee Valley

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Atlantic Jewel heads to the barriers before the Stocks Stakes

It was another enjoyable outing to Moonee Valley racetrack on Saturday and the weather was kind in the main  – being slightly overcast and mild. And it was worth attending to see Atlantic Jewel easily win her ninth race in succession.

I arrived at the track just as the second race was in progress. I watched it on a small screen in the Bookies area, and didn’t have any money on it. I noted that the winner was Divine Calling, the first of two victories on the day for Gai Waterhouse trained gallopers.

After collecting my free race book – my season’s ticket entitles me to one – and a complimentary drink card, I decided to go and check out the stalls.

Atlantic Jewel and Super Cool were in adjoining stalls, so I could admire and photograph two of my current favourite  horses simultaneously.

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Atlantic Jewel in her stall

Here’s Super Cool (without blinkers for a change) with strapper Jade.

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Super Cool in his stall

Whilst I was there, Jade took Super Cool for a stroll up and down the stalls aisle and demonstrated his sweet temperament by getting him to kiss her.

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Super Cool smooching with his strapper Jade

He’s certainly a laid back and good natured horse, as he tolerated the public giving him a pat and was undisturbed by the attention.

Atlantic Jewel looked very well and is a remarkably placid creature as well. She drew quite a crowd around her stall, reminding me of the admirers who would flock around Black Caviar’s stall when she was racing.

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Crowd of admirers outside Atlantic Jewel’s stall

I returned to the public lawn to watch Race 3 the I Print.Com.Au Handicap, a distance race over 2500 metres. I had my money on Picture Editor, but wouldn’t you know it, the Darren Weir trained Gotta Take Care was the winner from Crafty Cruiser, with Picture Editor running third.

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Race 3 finish down the straight

Race 4, the Group Two Stocks Stakes was of course one of the most anticipated races on the card. Only 5 runners accepted to run against the current star, with Bec Said No Credit and Fibrillation being scratched on Saturday morning.

Atlantic Jewel looked relaxed and happy in the parade ring.

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Atlantic Jewel in the parade ring prior to the Stocks Stakes

And a crowd of admirers watched her go round…

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Crowd on fence watching Atlantic Jewel parade.

The race itself was pretty much a foregone conclusion even before they sprang from the barriers. Atlantic Jewel raced mid field before peeling to the outside at the 600 and zooming down the straight to win easing down, 2½ lengths from last year’s winner Oasis Bloom.

Atlantic Jewel cruises to victory down the Moonee Valley straight

She returned to rousing cheers and Michael Rodd paraded her trackside so everyone could see her.

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Atlantic Jewel after winning the Stocks Stakes

Next on the card was the Mitty McEwan Stakes which was won by 3 year old colt Kuroshio in a surprising turnaround of form.  Moment of Change was a close second and General Truce took third spot.

I didn’t bother taking photos of the winner, but went instead to cash in my complimentary drink voucher and view the parade of horses contesting the feature event.

Super Cool was there of course, rigged out in his familiar blinkers

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Super Cool in the parade ring

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Fiorente on his way to the barriers

The Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes was rough affair, so Mark Kavanagh made the right decision as regards Atlantic Jewel. Poor Super Cool was galloped on and also blocked for a run. The Gai Waterhouse trained Fiorente stole the show, coming wide down the straight to win from Spacecraft who had led from the start.

Fiorente (no 3) is about to overtake Super Cool (no 8) as the field masses in the straight.

I was disappointed that Super Cool didn’t win, but am relieved that there was a good reason for his lack of sprint in the closing stages of the race.

After that I called it quits and made my way home. None of my wagers were successful, but I didn’t lose much, being a very small time punter.

I must admit I am really pleased with the new lens on my Panasonic GF3 micro four thirds camera, now that I’ve got used to using it – it takes ripper photos and the shutter action is very fast.  However, action shots still leave a lot to be desired and work better when I use the smaller lens.

It can accompany me again next Saturday to Caulfield where a sizzling Group One, the Underwood Stakes is to be run. Atlantic Jewel may back up in it, and Puissance de Lune and It’s A Dundeel are also nominated, making it a must see race.

The Golden Rose was won by the Chris Waller trained Zoustar. Prince Harada managed to run fifth.  Dissident was second and Bull Point scored third place.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Golden Rose, Jewel & Cool – Another Grand Day of Racing

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Atlantic Jewel at Caulfield – Memsie Stakes Day

Another fabulous day of horse racing is coming up this Saturday. The star of the day will no doubt be unbeaten mare Atlantic Jewel, aiming for her ninth consecutive win. She will be running against her own sex in the Stocks Stakes, rather than taking on the boys in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes – a soft option, but a wise one in light of her long absence from the scene.  And besides, it gives her stable mate Super Cool a chance to score brownie points in the feature race. Both races are run over 1600 metres and are of Group Two class.

I’ve been going to the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (formerly Feehan Stakes)  meeting at Moonee Valley for years, in fact it was the only race meeting I did attend until Black Caviar became my obsession.  It used to feature the Manikato Stakes which has now been moved to Cox Plate eve.

It has always been an enjoyable day and has generally attracted quality race horses. I have seen Sunline, Northerly, Makybe Diva, Fields of Omagh, Whobegotyou, Typhoon Tracy, Haradasun, Shoot Out, El Segundo, Miss Andretti, Gold Edition, Apache Cat to name some greats of the turf, racing on this day. Atlantic Jewel actually won her second race at this meeting back in 2011.

This year Atlantic Jewel will start hot favourite in the Stocks Stakes at very short odds against seven other mares. I don’t think she can be beaten, so in form Bec Said No Credit, Fibrillation, Oasis Bloom and Bonne Nuit will most likely fight out the minor places.

The Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes has attracted an interesting field that includes last year’s winner Happy Trails who has a good chance of winning again. Super Cool is second up and judging by his Memsie Stakes run, could well steal the prize. Others with pretensions are Lidari, the surprise winner of the BMW Handicap at Caulfield a fortnight ago, Hornet’s Nest, who actually beat Puissance de Lune  in a race at Warrnambool back in October last year and the lightly raced Desert Wizard who has won all three of his starts in  lesser company.

There is a third Group Two race at Moonee Valley on Saturday, the Mitty’s McEwan Stakes, a sprint over 1000 metres. It is of interest mainly due to the presence of Platelet who won the Sangster/ Goodwood double in Adelaide in the autumn. Last spring’s Rupert Clark Stakes winner Moment of Change is also in the field and is the top chance.

Rosehill racecourse in Sydney features the Group One Golden Rose Stakes, a race over 1400 metres for three year olds. An evenly matched field of seventeen makes it a hard race in which to pick a winner. Included are Victorian colts Fast ‘N’ Rocking  Prince Harada and Thermal Current who all finished in that order in the HDF McNeil Stakes two weeks ago. They are up against some smart Sydney colts, such as Sidestep, Zoustar, Dissident, Drago, War and Aussies Love Sport to name a few. I’ll be cheering for the Victorian boys, in particular Prince Harada.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Eclipse of the Moon – Makybe Diva Stakes Review

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Foreteller returning to scale after narrowly winning the Makybe Diva Stakes

I must admit it was a kind of disappointing day at Flemington on Saturday, which coupled with the dire outcome of the Election, left me deflated at the end of the day.

Not one favourite won the entire race card, and even though I always try and get a bit of value for my bet even when betting favourites, none of my selections were in the money.

So on to my day at the races…

Through another fortunate coincidence of trains – who said Melbourne’s public transport doesn’t run on time – I arrived at the big track in time to witness the first race the Domain a sprint over 1000 metres for three year old fillies.  Metastasio was the favourite, but true to the results throughout the day, she was unplaced, and the prize money went to Miracle To Me.

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Miracle To Me returns to scale after winning the Domain

Race 2 was one of the races I really wanted to see with new fave Cauthen being part of the field. Alas he was favourite, so the prevailing luck meant he finished well back, over racing at the beginning then dropping out, and has been since reported to have been suffering from the “thumps” (horse hiccups). Long John, who ran third to Cauthen in the HDF McNeil Stakes was avenged and won well from Weinholt and San Diego.

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Cauthen on his way to the track from the mounting yard, looking bright eyed and bushy tailed.

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Long John in the winners rug after his victory in the Henry Bucks Best Dressed Stakes

After that I decided to go and check out the stalls area and see Puissance de Lune. He’s easily recognised by his colour and pretty face.

He was being walked in the ring at the centre of stalls area.

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Puissance de Lune in the walking ring

I saw Sea Moon there as well

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Sea Moon in the walking ring

I missed seeing Race 3 the Sofitel Girls’ Day Out 2000, but heard the race broadcast over the loud speakers. It was won by second favourite Desert Jeuney

Race 4 was The Sofitel and I rather fancied Cosmic Causeway. He ran fourth and the winner was long shot Shoreham, who defeated the favourite Dany The Fox by a short margin with Garud running third.

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A happy Chris Symons aboard Shoreham returning to scale after winning The Sofitel

The weather, which had been quite sunny and bright had turned into spitting rain and a cold wind swept across the course, so I sought shelter under cover to consider my selection for the next race, the Group Two Danehill Stakes. I decided to go for Gregers over Safeguard, but neither choice proved a winner. Outsider Charlie Boy won the show from Kiss A Rose and Eclair Big Bang.

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Charlie Boy returning to scale after winning the Danehill Stakes

Finally it was time for the feature race, the Group One Makybe Diva Stakes. Makybe Diva’s statue overlooks the famous Flemington straight, so I thought it appropriate to photograph it.

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Makybe Diva Statue

Back to the race, I took photos of the leading contenders in the mounting yard.

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Masked Marvel

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Puissance de Lune

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Sea Moon

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Mr Moet

The race resulted in Foreteller pipping Puissance de Lune at the post, winning by a half head.  As I mentioned in my previous post, Foreteller has a tendency to run under the radar and score a surprising win every so often. It was disappointing that Puissance de Lune was denied his first Group One, but his run was full of merit, and Glen Boss probably let him go too soon, leaving him ripe for the picking by the fast finishing Foreteller who lunged at the finish line to take the race.

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Another photo of Foreteller returning to scale after winning the Makybe Diva Stakes

I stayed for the Bobbie Lewis Quality, a sprint over 1200 metres, and - you guessed it - it was won by outsider Speediness from Temple of Boom and Albrecht, with hot favourite Rebel Dane running fourth.

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Rebel Dane in the mounting yard

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Speediness (green silks) leading the field back after winning the Bobbie Lewis Quality

As the theme of the race meeting was the Sofitel Girls’ Day Out, there was a fashion show going on somewhere, which I wasn’t interested in watching, and there was face painting and pony rides for the kids.

Ponies proceeding trackside

I didn’t stay for the last race the Let’s Elope Stakes, so I missed seeing Commanding Jewel’s return to winning form. The pretty grey Sydney mare Catkins ran second, whom I had photographed earlier in her stall.

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Catkins in her stall

What is it about Flemington that seems to favour outsiders winning and causes favourites to fail? That’s twice I’ve been to Flemington where none of the favourites have won. Perhaps it’s the big spacious track, or the lack of sharp turns. Who knows?

Next week the Group One action transfers to Sydney at Rosehill with the running of the Golden Rose. In Melbourne I’ll be attending Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes Day at Moonee Valley, where Atlantic Jewel will be making her second appearance for the spring and gunning for her ninth win in succession. She’ll either be racing in the feature race, or the Stock Stakes for mares, both of which are 1600 metre races. Her stable mate Super Cool is also nominated, so I’m looking forward to seeing him again too.