Thursday, February 27, 2014

Miracles Again! Australian Guineas Day at Flemington

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Miracles of Life makes a welcome return to racing this Saturday

Racing this coming Saturday is at the wide open spaces of Flemington Racecourse and the feature race is the Group 1 Australian Guineas. It’s a 1600 metre race for three year olds, and this year’s field has quite a few likely chances, so it’s a bit of puzzler to figure out the winner.

First off you’ve got Cox Plate winner Shamus Award, who recently ran third to Moment of Change in the Orr Stakes, then you’ve got Eurozone who almost stole the race, missing by the shortest of  margins. Hucklebuck, the current Australian Guineas favourite, who looked very good winning the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes is another, as is Thunder Fantasy who returned to racing on a winning note, taking out the Group 2 Autumn Stakes by a comfortable margin.

Also worth consideration are others like Prince Harada, Rock Hero, and The Quarterback who were placed in one or other of  the aforementioned preparatory races. Polanski is missing from the field, and indeed will be missing from the racetrack from here on, the injury he sustained in the Futurity Stakes last week ending his racing career.

Anyone remember the 1980s radio show on 3RRR called Punter to Punter? I have fond memories of the show especially when I see the Frances Tressady Stakes on a racing program, after the “punters” ingrained it in my psyche by singing the race name to the tune of “Here we go gathering nuts in May”.  They also had an hilarious section called Trivial Form Guide where they formulated a cryptic discussion using references from the form guide.

It just so happens that the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes for fillies and mares is on the support card at Flemington this Saturday. It is named after a filly who won the rare double of the Victoria Derby and the Victoria Oaks in the same season in 1923 .  A field of handy mares, no fillies, will be contesting this year’s edition of the race. Top chances are former Western Australian mare Power Princess, Sino Eagle who won her last start,  the smart Floria resuming and Five All who was successful two starts back before being beaten by Sino Eagle.

Miracles of Life has not been seen since running unplaced in the Blue Sapphire Stakes in October last year. She suffered an internal haemorrhage on that occasion, but is back in good health by all accounts. She will be up against the older horses for the first time in a 1000 metre sprint down the Flemington straight, the race being the Listed Bob Hoysted Handicap. As her regular jockey Lauren Stojakovic is recovering from a race fall, Miracles of Life will be ridden by Corey Brown, so it will interesting to see how he fares with her. Whether “Barbie” can win the race is in the lap of the gods, but I’ll certainly be cheering her home.

There are three excellent Group 2 races in Sydney this Saturday at Rosehill. The first of these is the Millie Fox Stakes for fillies and mares run over 1300 metres. Sterling performer Red Tracer begins her autumn campaign in this.  She faces six opponents who include Royal Descent who won the Group 1 Australian Oaks last autumn, A Time For Julia who won her last start  in Melbourne. Red Tracer is the class mare in this race and should win.

The second Group 2 competition at Rosehill is the Silver Slipper Stakes  for two year olds. It’s a sort of early prelude to the Golden Slipper and is 1100 metre sprint. The most interesting runner is Unencumbered, who won the Magic Millions Two Year Old Classic in January and has been spelling since.  He is currently second favourite for the Golden Slipper behind Earthquake and is a very talented colt who will most likely win this race. His main rivals appear to be Law and Risen From Doubt who both have recent winning runs on the board.

I’m also interested in watching the feature race, the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes, a race over 1400 metres for three year olds.  My attention will be on It’s A Dundeel’s stable mate Atlante, who won the New Zealand Guineas at his last start. He’s up against a classy field that includes the well performed Dissident, Romantic Touch, Savvy Nature and Woodbine.

Still on racing, I have been reading over the past few days Les Carlyon’s terrific collection called True Grit, which covers his observations on horse racing over a 40 year period. He’s a wonderful writer who can conjure up in a few choice sentences the atmosphere, romance  and excitement of first class racing and bring to life both the human and equine characters of the turf.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Did the Earth Move? Blue Diamond Stakes Review

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Earthquake returns to scale after her stunning win in the Blue Diamond Stakes

As expected it was a wonderful day of racing at Caulfield on Saturday. The weather was kind and the racing action was first class throughout the afternoon.

As the meeting was programmed to start later in the day, I took my time getting to the track, arriving just before 3.00pm in time to hear Race 3, the Angus Armanesco Stakes  being broadcast. It was won by Spirits Dance who surprisingly didn’t start favourite, despite having won her last three races.  The beaten brigade were Marianne and Metaphorical.

I decided to visit the stalls area first, hoping to catch a glimpse of Fiorente and sure enough he was there, being walked by his strapper in the walking ring.

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Fiorente in the walking ring

He certainly is a head turner, a magnificent looking horse as I’ve remarked before and as people standing near me exclaimed in wonder.

When the next race was about to start, I decided to head to the lawn and watch it from the fence. It was the Group 2 Autumn Classic, a race for three year olds over 1800 metres. 

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Autumn Classic finish down the straight – Vilanova (blue & white)  is about to overtake Alpha Beat.

The Chris Waller trained Vilanova, who started a big odds, was the winner, storming home from the tail of the field to win from Countersnip and Alpha Beat.

Despite being only a Group 2 race, the Peter Young Stakes was one of the most highly anticipated of the day, due to the resumption of 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente. Also part of the field was 2012 Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon and sundry other stayers beginning their autumn campaigns.

I watched them parade in the mounting yard…

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Green Moon

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Let’s Make Adeal – Let’s Elope’s granddaughter

Fiorente started as warm favourite and he won narrowly from Mourayan  after a gritty run down the straight where he appeared to have no chance. Star Rolling who led for most of the race managed to hang on for third place.

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Fiorente back in the mounting yard after winning the Peter Young Stakes

The first of the Group 1 races was the next race on the program, that is the Futurity Stakes.  The three year old challenger Bull Point started as favourite, but it was Moment of Change who led from start to finish and was victorious, adding a third Group 1 win to his CV and his second in as many starts.  Unfortunately Polanski was injured during the race and his future racing career is in doubt.  Sertorius flew from the back of the field to run second, with old Pinwheel hanging on for third. Bull Point was outclassed by the older gallopers and finished fourth.

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Moment of Change returns to scale after winning the Futurity Stakes

By this time it was getting on for late afternoon and the Blue Diamond Stakes was up next, scheduled to start at 5.10pm.

I watched the field assembling in the mounting yard.

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Chivalry – finished 8th

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Earthquake – the winner!

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Nostradamus – finished 7th

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Rubick – finished 4th

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Nayeli – finished 15th

We were all expecting a fierce contest down the straight between top filly Earthquake and top colt Rubick, but that didn’t happen.  Rubick was up with the leaders for most of the race, but jockey Damian Browne bided his time on Earthquake and let her go in the straight where she effortlessly sailed past all and sundry to score a soft 1½ length win from Jabali. Long shot Cornrow ran third. I said I thought Earthquake was special when I saw her win the Blue Diamond Prelude, so I’m delighted she confirmed my first impression.

The final Group 1 of the day was the Oakleigh Plate and at first I decided I wouldn’t stay for it, but changed my mind.  I’m glad I did as I got to see potential sprinting super star Lankan Rupee winning his first Group 1 race, and fourth run in sequence. He’s a really pretty horse with an unusual, perfect, heart marking on his forehead.

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Lankan Rupee in the mounting yard – note the heart on his forehead

He of course was favourite after he’d blitzed his rivals in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes in early February.  This was his hardest assignment to date and he passed with flying colours, beating the huge field comfortably.

Good old Spirit of Boom ran second and second favourite Knoydart finished third.

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Lankan Rupee returns to scale after winning the Oakleigh Plate

I called it quits after the Oakleigh Plate even though there was one more race to go. The trains coincided nicely on the way home and I made it by 7.00pm.

It was a long, but enjoyable day at the races. The course was not all that crowded, so it was easy to watch the races, buy a drink or put on a bet. Some bookies were offering a 10% bonus on winning bets as part of a deal with Racing Victoria, but alas all my bets were unsuccessful. I didn’t follow my own advice and foolishly went for likely long shots.

There are only three more Group 1 race meetings to go in the Melbourne Autumn racing carnival. Next week the action is at Flemington for the running of the Australian Guineas.  I’ll be there of course - with bells on.

In Sydney, Boban disappointed in the Apollo Stakes but Appearance starred again scoring another sensational win. Guelph finished out of the placings in the Light Fingers Stakes, and didn’t show any of her characteristic dash. Hopefully it was just an off day for her, for we do need equine heroes to make up for Black Caviar.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Blue Diamond Puzzle - Relaxed Racing at Caulfield

Earthquake winning the Blue Diamond Prelude at Caulfield on 8 February 2014

Heart pounding action awaits the keen racing fan this coming Saturday with Melbourne’s autumn racing carnival revving up the excitement at Caulfield with the running of the Blue Diamond Stakes along with two other Group 1 races and other choice Group 2 and 3 contests.

I have been to the Blue Diamond meeting for the past two years, so I have no intention of missing this one, which promises many delights, as well as cool and cloudy weather as opposed to hot and humid.

More stars of the turf will be resuming at this meeting, notably the past two Melbourne Cup winners Fiorente and Green Moon in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes. It’s run over 1800 metres so it suits the stayers gearing up for the Australian Cup in a few weeks time. Also part of the field is Foreteller who ran a creditable fourth in the Orr Stakes,  and second up could steal the prize, Western Australian God Has Spoken who recently ran second in the Perth Cup and sole mare, Let’s Elope’s granddaughter, Let’s Make Adeal who was last seen running third in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in November. Fiorente will probably start as favourite, but he is not known as a first up winner. Even so he is the classiest horse in the race.

The first scheduled Group 1 race is the Futurity Stakes run over 1400 metres. it has attracted an interesting field of contestants, that includes Orr Stakes winner Moment of Change, Manfred Stakes winner Bull Point and Polanski finally starting his autumn campaign and thrown in at the deep end.  Both Polanski and Bull Point are having their first starts in open company, previously winning against their own age group. All Too Hard won it last year, so one of the aforementioned three year olds could prove successful again.

Following the Futurity Stakes, the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes has the usual full field of smart two year olds in contention. But some are more gifted than others. The leading contenders are of course Rubick and Earthquake who proved their superiority in the Blue Diamond Preludes. However both of them have been disadvantaged in the barrier draw, Rubick drawing Barrier 10, and Earthquake Barrier 15.  Nayeli who is certainly a serious rival to above two, judging by her win in the Chairman’s Stakes, has drawn Barrier 9. Ideally drawn Jabali (Barrier 3) could cause a boilover, as could Nostradamus (his half brother Star Witness won the race in 2010) and Chivalry, who ran third to Rubick in the Prelude.  It being a two year old race, anything could happen and probably will. I’ll be on Earthquake as
I think she’s super special.

The final Group 1 of the meeting is the Oakleigh Plate, a sprint over 1100 metres. It has a huge field of 18 runners. the main chances being the in form Lankan Rupee, the speedy Shamal Wind, the trusty Spirit of Boom, the on a winning streak Knoydart and the Chris Waller trained mare Dystopia who beat Shamal Wind back in November.

In Sydney at Randwick the feature race is the Group 2 Apollo Stakes, where Boban will be out to redeem his reputation. He will have to contend once again with Appearance who is a major threat, especially if the track is on the soft side.

And it’s good to see wonder filly Guelph resuming in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes. Mindful that Guelph was beaten first up last time, her major threats are Sweet Idea who has won her last two starts, Real Surreal who is returning from a long spell, but had winning form prior to that, and Zanbagh who was last seen running second to Kirramosa in the Crown Oaks at Flemington in the spring.

It looks to be a wonderful day of racing all up and I look forward once again to being present at the track to see it all and take in the vibe of first class racing,

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Snitzerland the Brave – Black Caviar Lightning Review

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Snitzerland returns to scale after winning the Black Caviar Lightning

What a contrast it was weatherwise between Caulfield last week and Flemington yesterday.  As you can see by the photo above it got pretty soggy when the feature race was running. A heavy shower of rain passed through as the runners were parading in the mounting yard and it continued to drizzle during the race.

Earlier in the afternoon when I arrived at the track it was overcast and quite humid and sticky, but it cooled off as the afternoon progressed.

I reached Flemington just as Race 3 the Indian Summer Handicap was about to jump.  The Peter Moody trained mare Sino Eagle was the victor.

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Sino Eagle returns to scale after winning the Indian Summer Handicap

The races I was most interested in were later in the afternoon, so I plodded up the lawn to the Stalls area.  There I spotted Samaready in her stall.

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Samaready in her stall

Also cruising around was the Living Legends representative for the day, Silent Witness. Apache Cat didn’t make it as he was suffering from a sore hock. However, Silent Witness was a worthy replacement. He was to Hong Kong racing what Black Caviar was to Australian racing – he won his first seventeen races and was named the world’s fastest sprinter from 2003 to 2005.

He paraded around most of the afternoon and led out the Black Caviar Lightning field. I got to see him close up and even gave him a pat.

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Silent Witness mingling with the public.

Back on the lawn, marching down the Black Caviar Walk of Fame (which had been resurrected for the afternoon) was a three piece band, the musicians wearing Black Caviar ties and caps.

Band on the lawn – Makybe Diva statue in the background.

Race 4 was the Lawn Handicap, a sprint over 1200 metres. It was won by the Mick Price trained Mandla from Tackleberry and Tigerland.

Mandla returns to scale after winning the Lawn Handicap

The first of the Group races was the Group 3 Mitty’s Vanity for three year old fillies.  Solicit started as favourite and she won by over 2 lengths from Critical Angel. I had my money on Girl In Flight who ran third.

I watched the girls parade in the mounting yard before the race.

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Scratchy Bottom

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Critical Angel

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Spirit of Heaven

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Girl In Flight

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Solicit returns to scale after winning the Mitty’s Vanity

As you can see from the photos, the light, up to this time, was wonderful for taking good shots. A light shower passed through shortly before the the sixth race on cards.

The Group 2 CS Hayes Stakes was one of the feature races and had attracted a good field of colts and geldings. Unfortunately Polankski was scratched again, no doubt still suffering from a skin infection.  The favourite was Hucklebuck and he didn’t disappoint his supporters, winning comfortably from Prince Harada, who thankfully ran a much better race this time. The Quarterback ran third.

Hucklebuck is a most attractive young horse, the stand out in the mounting yard.

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Hucklebuck in the mounting yard

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Prince Harada on his way to the track

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The Quarterback looking fierce

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San Diego in the mounting yard

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Hucklebuck returns to scale after winning the CS Hayes Stakes

My wagering for the afternoon was very modest. I only had three bets, one of which was for Catkins in the Breeders Classic in Sydney. I watched the race on a small screen in the Bookies area, and cheered her home for a gritty win over Steps In Time. White Sage managed to finish third.

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Bookies ring at Flemington Racecourse

Placing a bet on Samaready in the feature race, I eventually made it back to the lawn and mounting yard. The rain had set in so the crowds were thin on the ground around the yard. I got somewhat damp, but as I’d made the mistake of sitting on the grass earlier in the afternoon, and got a wet behind, it hardly mattered. I was surprised that my photographs turned out alright despite the rain.

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African Pulse

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Being very much torn between backing Snitzerland and Samaready I was not in the least surprised that Snitzerland took out the 2014  Black Caviar Lightning – her first Group 1 win.  In fact the trifecta comprised the top three runners in the race – Snitzerland, Shamexpress and Samaready who finished in that order. The two and three year olds were never in the picture.

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Snitzerland being rugged after winning the Black Caviar Lightning

There wasn’t that much of a turn out for this year’s running of the Lightning Stakes as compared to the last two or three years. Black Caviar certainly drew the crowds, as the wide open spaces of Flemington racecourse were sparsely populated yesterday.

It took hours to get home as the trains were disrupted by signal failures at various stations. At least, by the time I got home my clothes had dried out completely.

Next Saturday the racing action returns to Caulfield, where the Blue Diamond Stakes features along with Group 1 action in the Futurity Stakes and Oakleigh Plate. Fiorente is expected to contest the Futurity, so I’m looking forward to seeing him again.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Black Caviar Lightning 2014 Edition

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Black Caviar saunters to the track before winning her third Lightning Stakes in February 2013

More racing excitement is on the way this weekend with Flemington Racecourse hosting the Group One Black Caviar Lightning and several other interesting events.

The Black Caviar Lightning, formerly known as the Lightning Stakes, was renamed last year to honour the great mare. She is sorely missed from the racetrack, but at least the 2014 field won’t have to contend with her and her great rival Hay List, nor current sprinting star Buffering. So it’s wide open, with a slightly crazy list of acceptances, that includes a pair of two year olds (Boomwaa & Bugatty), a trio of three year olds (Thermal Current, Bernabeu & Brilliant Bisc) and sundry older sprinters, chief among them brilliant mares Snitzerland and Samaready.  Most of the field are first up after a spell, so it’s anybody’s guess who will win, but I fancy the two mares and can’t decide which one has the better chance.

The other really interesting race on the cards is the Group Three
CS Hayes Stakes for three year old colts and geldings run over 1400 metres. Polanski, if he has recovered from the skin rash that caused his scratching last week, will finally start his autumn campaign.  His main opposition comes from Criterion who ran fourth behind Polanski in the Victorian Derby, Hucklebuck who won his first start back from a spell, Worth A Ransom, The Quarterback and Prince Harada who all have a run under their belts, finishing second, third and fourth behind Bull Point in the Manfred Stakes. I really want Prince Harada to show some of the brilliance his trainer insists he has, but he’s been most disappointing in general.  His only two wins were on heavy tracks, so perhaps a soft track is what he needs.

The other group race at Flemington on Saturday is the Group Three Mitty’s Vanity for three year old fillies, also over 1400 metres.  Top picks are the amusingly named Scratchy Bottom who won her last start, Girl In Flight who has won all three of her starts, Solicit who ran third in the Crown Oaks and Lights of Heaven’s little sister Spirit of Heaven.

In Sydney at Rosehill there is an interesting race card as well where the Group Two Breeder’s Classic is the feature race, It has a super field of smart mares that include Streama, Catkins, White Sage, Steps In Times, Sharnee Rose and Driefontein.  I’m most interested in Catkins and also another grey mare White Sage who is unbeaten in five starts. Should be a ripper of a race.

On the subject of Sydney racing, New Zealand star It’s A Dundeel will kick off  his autumn campaign in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Warwick Farm in early March.  Alas he won’t be seen in Melbourne, but I’ll be keenly following his progress nonetheless. He now has a great web site, just launched.  Check it out and particularly the video of his strapper Emily Murphy talking about her ideal boyfriend.

I’m looking forward to returning to Flemington this Saturday. At least I won’t have to pay entry as my Flemington season’s ticket covers entry to the course up to the end of July.  Also my old favourite Apache Cat may be there, so I’ll be delighted to see him again. He won the Lightning Stakes 2008.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sizzling Racing Action – Orr Stakes Day Review

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Earthquake on her way to the barriers prior to winning the fillies Blue Diamond Prelude

When I walked into Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday morning, the first thing I saw was a bunch of people dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not really appropriate dress for the day you would think, but apparently they were part of the entertainment arranged for children.  There were also pony rides and carousels, which were not much of interest to this older person.

I arrived in plenty of time to watch Race 3, the Autumn Stakes. Unfortunately Polanski was scratched owing to a skin infection, so favouritism reverted to Sydney colt Rock Hero.  I rather fancied Thunder Fantasy, though didn’t have a bet on the race. I should have followed my fancy as Thunder Fantasy won the race comfortably from Rock Hero with Late Charge taking third spot.

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Thunder Fantasy in the mounting yard

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Autumn Stakes finish – Thunder Fantasy leads from Rock Hero down the straight.

The relentless sunshine meant that the light was not ideal for taking photographs, so I am surprised at how well my pictures turned out. I was expecting shadows and high contrast, but the balance is quite good overall.

The Kevin Hayes Stakes was the next race on the agenda, so I headed to the stalls and parade area to view the fillies. I was most interested in Shamalia who was parading shortly after I arrived at the scene.

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Shamalia parading before the Kevin Hayes Stakes

I watched the race from the hill above the parade ring. Both Shamalia and Bound For Earth (who started favourite) finished unplaced, running fourth and fifth respectively. Spirits Dance narrowly won from Marianne with outsider Patricia Dawn running third.

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Race 4 finish – just past the winning post – Spirits Dance leads.

Owing to the heat of the day, the interval between races was shortened to 30 minutes, so it wasn’t long before the first of the highly anticipated  Blue Diamond Preludes, the fillies edition, was to run.

I headed back to the lawn and the mounting yard, intending to grab a good position on the fence to watch the parade and take photos. Actually it was very easy to get good viewing spots as the heat was quite intense and discouraged the crowd from venturing out in it, unless they had some shade to shelter under.

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Top Dolly

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Earthquake looked cool as a cucumber, completely unfazed and relaxed in the mounting yard and certainly proved she was a cut above her rivals winning the fillies Prelude with consummate ease, scoring by almost three lengths to Eloping in second place with Lumosty running a further three lengths third.  Earthquake has the same look and attitude that characterises top class fillies and mares like Guelph and Atlantic Jewel. She appears to be the real deal.

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Down the straight in the fillies Blue Diamond Prelude- Earthquake romping to the finish line.

In contrast to the relaxed Earthquake, star colt Rubick was fractious in the mounting yard, bucking and kicking and was so unmanageable …

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Rubick playing up in the mounting yard

… that he was ridden onto the track early.

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Rubick on his way early to the barriers.

The other young fellows were well behaved and paraded without incident.

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Rubick, like Earthquake started hot favourite and didn’t disappoint, winning the colts Prelude in dashing style after a much harder run than Earthquake had to endure. Interestingly, the time for both the fillies and colts Preludes was exactly the same to the second - 1:03.71.

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Down the straight in the colts & geldings Prelude – Rubick  leads the pack

Jabali ran second with Chivalry scoring third spot. Nostradamus, cursed with a wide barrier, made up ground late to run fourth.

The Blue Diamond Stakes, to be run in a fortnight, looks like it will be a first class race, with both Earthquake and Rubick to be joined by Nayeli and other classy runners.  Earthquake is back to being favourite, her Prelude win being considered the better of the two.

I didn’t watch the next race, the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes, a sprint over 1100 metres. The favourite, Lankan Rupee won by over three lengths from Iconic with First Command four lengths third.

While that race was running, I was in the stalls area checking out Chris Waller’s contingent…

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Foreteller enjoying a groom from his strapper

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Hawkspur communing with his strapper

Arinosa posing with her strapper for this photo

Throughout the afternoon, 2009 Orr Stakes winner Maldivian was being paraded. Maldivian also won the 2008 Cox Plate and was famously scratched at the barrier in the 2007 Caulfield Cup, after he reared and hit his head. Rugby League star Billy Slater was riding him around at one point advertising Relaxed Racing and almost fell off at one stage when Maldivian reared up playfully.

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Maldivian with (unfortunately headless) Billy Slater

Maldivian led out the Orr Stakes field as well.

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Maldivian leading out the Orr Stakes field.

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The winner – Moment of Change

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Shamus Award

On Saturday only six horses contested the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes with Sertorius being scratched early Saturday because of the heat. So the race was a pretty relaxed run affair. Moment of Change took the lead early in the race with Shamus Award running in second spot, slightly ahead of Eurozone. The rest were spread out and only began to bunch up in the straight.  Moment of Change increased his lead in the straight, and Shamus Award who was tossing his head around and wanting to lay in, was passed by Eurozone who rapidly closed on Moment Of Change but just couldn't quite catch him. It was a victory for the Peter Moody/Luke Nolen team again, and Moment of Change’s first win since he took out the 2012 Rupert Clarke Stakes, though he has been consistently placed in quality races, running second behind the likes of Buffering and Black Caviar.

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Orr Stakes finish down the straight – Moment of Change leads with Eurozone overtaking Shamus Award.

I stayed for the final race on the cards, the Group 3 Bellmaine Stakes for mares over 1200 metres. mostly because I wanted to see Arinosa in action. I’ve been following her for a while, another pretty grey mare trained by Chris Waller.

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Arinosa in the mounting yard

By the time this race was run the heat had intensified and the sun was scorching as we waited on the fence. Thankfully it was the last race.  It was won by the Peter Moody trained A Time For Julia from Danestroem and Bonaria. Arinosa never had a hope being caught behind a wall of horses, and finished at the tail of the field.

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Bellmaine Stakes finish down the straight – A Time For Julia is about to overtake Danestroem.

The early start to the racing program was a good idea. It was hot all day, but only got intolerable at the end. Horse welfare was obviously catered to, as ready supplies of water were everywhere in the stalls area, and I didn’t witness any distressed horses.

There was a good crowd in attendance, but not over the top, and a great many children. The only loutish behaviour I saw, was a nitwit, who threw his friend’s shoe over the fence onto the track before the Orr Stakes. It was retrieved by security and returned to its owner.

Though it was hot, I survived my day at the races alright and was glad I had made the effort to attend. It was worth it to see Earthquake and Rubick in action.

In Sydney, the Expressway Stakes was taken out by Appearance. Boban was very disappointing and finished unplaced, but the race was probably too short for him, as he tends to race at the tail of the field and swoop late.

Next Saturday the racing is at Flemington and the feature race is the Group One Black Caviar Lightning. The weather will be much more pleasant and possibly even with showers of rain. It hasn’t rained in Melbourne for weeks, so the rain will be welcome.

A final photo is one that I found  amusing – a bloke towing a bag with a tiny pony on a lead following behind.