Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Musical Interlude–Kevin & Dustin Welch at the Caravan Music Club

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R to L –Kevin & Dustin Welch live at Caravan Music Club – 28/3/15

What a pleasure it was to be back in the urban wilds of Oakleigh at the Caravan Music Club! It has to be one of the best music venues in Melbourne, so it’s a pity it is so far away from where I live.

However, last night, after taking up the offer of a ticket from our neighbour B, I got to attend a wonderful concert by US singer songwriters, father and son duo Kevin Welch and Dustin Welch.

Kevin Welch is no stranger to these shores having toured here many times with fellow Dead Reckoner Kieran Kane. I first saw them in November 1999 at the Continental Cafe and like everyone who was present on the night, was blown away by their performance.

This is Dustin Welch’s first tour of Australia but he has been making a name for himself in his home country as an accomplished multi instrumentalist and literate lyricist.

He and his dad make a dynamic duo, sharing a taste for the same type of music, as well as having a ‘chip off the old block ‘ similarity in voices and delivery.

The evening was kicked off by local singer songwriter Dan Waters, who performed a mesmerising set, mostly comprised of songs from his debut album La Vita E Bella. Typified by his dry as a dust bowl delivery that reminds me of James McMurtry, and others of Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, his gritty urban ballads of low life and desperation grow on you as you listen to the words.

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Dan Waters live at Caravan Music Club – 28/3/15

Included in his set was the terrific Guilt And Shame, Didn’t Mean To Hurt No-One, and Heat of December.

There was a short break after Dan Waters’ set, after which the main act assumed the stage and played for something like two hours, taking turn about to sing songs from their dual repertoires with each providing vocal and instrumental accompaniment to the other.

The first song, sung by Kevin Welch was The Great Emancipation, one I had not heard before. In the main Kevin played mostly new songs, but there were several familiar tunes among them, such as Postcard From Mexico, Millionaire, Jersey Devil, Train To Birmingham and Marysville, a song he wrote in response to the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009.

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Kevin Welch – looking older than when I last saw him

Of course I’d never heard any of Dustin Welch’s songs, so they were all new to me.  I was particularly taken with Sparrows, Paranoid Heart Poor House, Cannonball Girl and Whisky Priest, a song inspired by the Graham Greene novel  The Power and the Glory.

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Dustin Welch live at Caravan Music Club – 28/3/15

Just about every time I’ve seen Kevin Welch in concert, he has experienced problems with his guitar. This time a string broke, a brief way into the set, so he was obliged to borrow Dan Waters’ instrument which he played for the rest of the night.

Dustin had no trouble with his instruments – banjo, slide guitar and acoustic guitar. And he certainly knew how to play them.

It was a great show by two consummate showmen, one young, one old, the family relationship creating a marvellously engaging listening experience.

Here’s a video of Kevin & Dustin performing Postcard From Mexico

Kevin & Dustin Welch Set list
Caravan Music Club (28/3/15)

  1. The Great Emancipation
  2. Postcard From Mexico (David Olney cover)
  3. Paranoid Heart
  4. Marysville
  5. Sparrows
  6. The Flower
  7. The Lower East Side (co written with JTE)
  8. Millionaire
  9. Poor House
  10. Come A Rain
  11. Cannonball Girl
  12. Dust Devil
  13. Two Horses
  14. Jersey Devil
  15. Don’t Tell Em Nothin’ (co written with Cary Ann Hearst)
  16. Train To Birmingham (John Hiatt cover)
  17. After The Music’s Gone
  18. Patch Of Blue Sky
  19. Whisky Priest


Too Old To Die Young

I’m anticipating several musical treats in the coming months. First up in April is the exhilarating Pokey La Farge, followed by the soulfully beautiful Iris Dement in May, whilst in June I have tickets for the Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell concert at the Palais which promises to be a ripper.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Angelic Light or Earthquake– Autumn Racing this Weekend

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Earthquake at Flemington Australian Cup day 2015

There are three Group 1 races this coming weekend, one at Moonee Valley on Friday night and two at Rosehill on Saturday afternoon. I won’t be attending any of the them, but will of course be watching them with interest.

The William Reid Stakes on Friday night is the final Group 1 race in Melbourne until the spring season begins with the Memsie Stakes in late August. It is a sprint over 1200 metres and has been won in the past by some great names of the turf – Black Caviar in 2011 and 2013, Apache Cat consecutively in 2008 and 2009, Miss Andretti, Vo Rogue among others.

This year’s edition does not have the likes of Lankan Rupee, Chautauqua, Terravista or Brazen Beau in the field, but is quite interesting nonetheless.  For a start it has Earthquake who narrowly missed winning her last start at Flemington lumping a 60kg impost. This time she carries only 54kg, so she is in with a excellent chance.

The current favourite is Angelic Light who defeated Lankan Rupee in the McEwan Stakes in September last year. She is returning from a spell but may need a run to reach full fitness.

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Angelic Light overtaking Lankan Rupee in the 2014 McEwan Stakes

Top weight in the race is Rebel Dane, a splendid looking beast, who promises much, but rarely delivers, though he may prove me wrong on Friday night. Others with a chance are Vain Queen, Famous Seamus, It Is Written and Fontelina who ran second in this race last year.

At Rosehill two very classy fields have been assembled for the Group 1 races. The first of these is the Vinery Stud Stakes a race for three year old fillies over 2000 metres. Top pick is First Seal, even if she did not win at her only start over 2000 metres against the colts.  Her main rivals are Victorian Oaks winner Set Square who has been competitive at her two starts this season, Amicus who won the Thousand Guineas in Spring, Winx and Thunder Lady.

The BMW is always a really interesting race for stayers over 2400 metres and this years edition has attracted a top field that includes the usual suspects, Protectionist, Who Shot Thebarman, Lucia Valentina and Silent Achiever. However, all eyes will be on the Japanese superstar To The World  and the talented English import Hartnell who won his last start by 2 lengths. 

The bonny grey mare Catkins is entered in the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes and has a very good chance of winning it. She finished a game second to Cosmic Endeavour in the open class Group 1 Canterbury Stakes, but is back to racing against her own sex. Her main threat comes from Madam Gangster who I witnessed winning the Frances Tressady Stakes at Flemington a few weeks ago and could well continue on her winning ways.

Update Sunday night:

Alas neither Earthquake nor Angelic Light featured in the finish of the William Reid Stakes. Outsider Lucky Hussler won the bikkies from Vain Queen and Griante.

In Sydney, First Seal just missed winning the Vinery Stud Stakes, being outstayed by outsider FenwayThunder Lady ran third.

The BMW was a ripper and featured an exciting head to head down the straight between To The World and Hartnell, with the English import prevailing over the Japanese star. 100/1 shot Beaten Up hung on for third.

And punter’s pal, the ever consistent Catkins won the Emancipation Stakes.

The sad news from the weekend in the racing scene was the sudden death of He’s Your Man after track work. Reportedly he suffered a heart attack and died peacefully with his trainer (Chris Waller) consoling him as he passed away.

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He’s Your Man at Flemington on Derby Day last year

Friday, March 20, 2015

Super Saturday at Rosehill

Signage at Rosehill Racecourse

Last year at this time I went to Sydney for Mystic Medusa’s Astrological New Year dinner, and whilst there attended the Ranvet Stakes meeting at Rosehill on the Saturday afternoon.

This year I’ll be home in Melbourne, but will be watching with keen interest the tremendous race card at Rosehill Racecourse.

The meeting last year was relatively low key, with only two Group 1 races, but NSW racing has rearranged their autumn program, so that this year several Group 1 races which used to be run later in the season, have been rescheduled and added more glitz to the third Saturday in March.

The feature race this year is the Golden Slipper Stakes, the richest race for two year olds in the world. Last year it was run on a bog track and fillies filled the first seven places with Mossfun defeating Earthquake and Bring Me The Maid.

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Mossfun at Rosehill 22 March 2014

It appears this year’s version of the Slipper will be dominated by the colts, the Gai Waterhouse trained Vancouver in particular. His 3½ length win in the Todman Stakes recently was spectacular. However he has drawn the extreme outside barrier, which gives his rivals a slight chance of beating him. Furnaces and Headwater ran second and third in the Todman Stakes, so have to have a chance, but Exosphere who won his last start by 4 lengths is probably Vancouver’s main rival. I rather fancy Haptic who is yet to be beaten, but wonder if he has the same class as the favourite.

Fillies have won the last two Golden Slippers  (Mossfun 2014 & Overreach 2013) and the girls with a chance this year are Fireworks, Ottoman, English, Reemah and Lake Geneva (the latter two ran second and third in the Blue Diamond).

The Golden Slipper is scheduled as Race 7, but the first of the Group 1 races will  be the Ranvet Stakes, run over 2000 metres as Race 4.   Silent Achiever won it last year pipping the Queen’s horse Carlton House at the post. It would be great if she could win it a second time and she has good chance if she can beat the in form Contributor who has won his two starts this autumn and is the hot favourite. The Ranvet has a really intriguing field with stayers from Hong Kong (Dominant), Japan (Tosen Stardom) and New Zealand (Fast Dragon) here especially for the Sydney Championships, plus familiar  locals like He’s Your Man and Lucia Valentina.

Race 5 is the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas also run over 2000 metres, but for three year olds. 

Randwick Guineas winner Hallowed Crown is the one to beat. Trying to do so will be the unbeaten New Zealand Derby winner Mongolian Khan, Victorian Derby winner Preferment and runners up in the aforementioned races  - Volkstok’n’barrell (NZ Derby) and Sweynesse (Randwick Guineas).

As opposed to the small field for the Rosehill Guineas (7 runners), the Group 1 Galaxy has attracted a full field of 14 starters.  It is a sprint over 1100 metres and I’m delighted to see Miracles of Life and Rubick in the field.  Deep Field who had his colours lowered in the Lightning Stakes, and was further humiliated at his last start where he was beaten by the lowly Target In Sight, is also one of the contenders, as are the smart Sweet Idea, Avoid Lightning and Melbourne mare Chloe in Paris who has won her last three starts. I’m hoping little Miracles of Life can add some more Group 1  glory to her CV.

The final Group 1 race on the program is the George Ryder Stakes (1500 metres) which has attracted a full field of middle distance runners, many of them winners at Group 1 level. Super mare Cosmic Endeavour who won the Canterbury Stakes at her last start, will no doubt start as favourite. Other familiar names in the mix are Sacred Falls, Criterion, Moriarty, Weary and Royal Descent. Caulfield Guineas winner Shooting To Win and Kermadec, the unsuccessful favourite in the Australian Guineas, have bypassed the Rosehill Guineas to run in this and could easily be in the finish.  There are also two Japanese horses, World Ace and Real Impact who it is unwise to ignore completely.

The weather in Sydney is supposed to be cloudy with little rain, and the track is reported today as being good surface wise.

Update Sunday:

My speculations on the likely outcomes of the five Group 1 races were fairly accurate, even if I do not specify tips.

The Ranvet Stakes was won by Contributer – no surprise – with the Japanese horse Tosen Stardom running second and Lucia Valentina  taking out third.

Volkstok’n’barrell stormed home to win the Rosehill Guineas from Preferment and Hallowed Crown.

Sweet Idea won her first Group 1 in the Galaxy at long odds with Kuro running second and Miracles of Life doing well, after a pretty torrid run, to run third.

The favourite Vancouver confirmed the wraps around him with a stunning win in the Golden Slipper with the filly English giving Gai Waterhouse the Golden Slipper quinella. Lake Geneva ran third.

Finally, Japanese horse Real Impact held on narrowly  to win the George Ryder Stakes from Criterion. Three year old Kermadec ran third.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Gun (Jockeys) and Roses–Flemington Super Saturday Review

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Brazen Beau returns to scale after winning the Newmarket Handicap

Saturday in Melbourne was set aside for the qualifying laps of the Melbourne Grand Prix, not something I am interested in.

So eschewing the rev of hotted up motors echoing through the metropolis, I headed out to Flemington for the thunder of hooves, and to smell roses rather than fuel.

I got to the track early on a surprisingly crowded train, arriving  around 12.40pm and stayed until the Australian Cup, which was run at 4.30pm. So it was a long day, but the time passed quickly as there was plenty of exciting racing action and pretty horses to view over the afternoon.

The title of this post refers to the winning doubles of jockeys Michael Walker and Joao Moreira who each rode one winner of the Group 1 races plus one other on the program.

And of course the roses were resplendent as you’d expect.

rose hedge

My arrival at the track was in plenty of time to watch race 2, the
MSS Security Stakes, wherein Brazilian born, Hong Kong hoop Joao Moreira booted home the first winner of his double. This happened to be  12/1 shot Pittsburgh Flyer, who I thought had no chance. My interests were centred on Earthquake and Sistonic. Earthquake ran a close second, but Sistonic finished second last and didn’t feature at all.

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Earthquake in the mounting yard

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Sistonic on her way to the track

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Pittsburgh Flyer returns to scale after winning the MSS Security Stakes

After watching the race I sauntered up to the stalls area to see if the Living Legends had arrived.

Both Zipping and Better Loosen Up were present, and lovingly attended to by the Living Legends staff.

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Zipping in his stall – all dressed up and ready to parade

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Better Loosen Up with a rose tucked into his bridle

Better Loosen Up will turn 30 on 29th August this year and was a champion of the turf in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is the only Australian bred horse to have won the prestigious Japan Cup which he did in 1990.  He also won the 1990 Cox Plate, MacKinnon Stakes, and the 1991 Australian Cup as well as several other Group races. He was named Australian Horse of the Year for the 1990-1991 season.

The Living Legends were taken off for a walk in the mounting yard, so I cruised through the stable area to see which of the present stars of the turf had arrived.

Lankan Rupee was being hosed down by his strapper, and I got a lovely photo of him in the watering section of the stalls.

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Lankan Rupee in the stalls area after being hosed down

Alas, much as I hoped to see Lankan Rupee win the Newmarket Handicap, it wasn’t to be. Everyone was puzzled by his failure to run a place, but on Monday it was revealed that he had  torn a muscle in his chest and was also displaying signs of inflammation in his stifles.  This obviously happened during the race as he was over-racing in the early stages and pulling hard, then failed to produce his devastating sprint in the finish.

Returning track side, Race 3 was about to get underway. This was the Group 2 Sires Produce Stakes for two year olds run over 1400 metres.

Jameka was the favourite and she delivered a comfortable win for her backers, winning by a length from Lazumba with Sampeah,running third, three and a half lengths behind.

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Jameka returns to scale after winning the Sires Produce Stakes

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Lazumba on her way to the track

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Sampeah on his way to the track

Back in the stalls more horses had arrived, among them Red Cadeaux.

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Red Cadeaux in his stall – he has such a kind face.

Terravista was waiting patiently in his stall as well.

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Brazen Beau, the eventual winner of the Newmarket Handicap was being walked in the parade ring. I got this great head shot of him.

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Brazen Beau – a head turner

Meanwhile, in the mounting yard, the Living Legends were grazing on the turf, whilst the CEO of Living Legends, Andrew Clarke, was interviewed on TVN about the organisation and the profiles of the equine special guests.

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Race 4, the Group 2 Blamey Stakes run over 1600 metres was next on the agenda. Suavito, who spectacularly won the Group 1 Futurity Stakes two weeks ago was the hot favourite and she didn’t disappoint.  After missing the start, she quickly moved up to take the lead and was never headed, winning by a length from Sertorius, with Kourkam running third.

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Suavito returns to scale after winning the Blamey Stakes

Only one more race remained before the big two feature races were to run, this being the Group 2 Kewney Stakes, for three year old fillies over 1400 metres. As I had not had a bet all afternoon I was toying with the idea of putting a few dollars on Wawail, but thought better of it after noticing Michael Walker was riding her. He’d recently put in a few poor rides so didn’t inspire confidence.

How wrong I was.  Wawail upstaged hot favourite Sabatini who was aiming for her third win in succession. Sabatini raced at the tail of the field and though she flew home, she was unable to reel in Wawail.

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Wawail returns to scale after winning the Kewney Stakes

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Sabatini leaves the mounting yard for the track

Though my heart was with Lankan Rupee in the Newmarket, my head or some strong intuition told me to put money on Brazen Beau, which I did. So I was delighted that he won, and like everyone else bemused by the performance of Lankan Rupee. He looked fine in the mounting yard as did all the others.

Chautauqua finished second and Terravista ran third, but they were blitzed by Brazen Beau who won by almost three lengths.

My photos of the Newmarket parade are really dark for some reason I can’t fathom, so I won’t be showing them in this post

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Brazen Beau in the winners rug

The Australian Cup ended in a boilover with the unfancied Spillway winning the bikkies by a nose from the also unfancied Extra Zero, with the ever honest Happy Trails running third. Michael Walker proved me wrong again with his winning ride.

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Spillway returns to scale after winning the Australian Cup

As expected The Cleaner led the field at a good pace and he managed to hang for fourth. Protectionist was never in it, but Red Cadeaux ran well and finished fifth.

The light was better for the Australian Cup parade, so here are photos of the main contenders.

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Red Cadeaux

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Happy Trails

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Extra Zero

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The Cleaner

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The Australian Cup meeting is basically the last of the Group 1 racing for Melbourne in autumn, though the finale is the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley on the 27th March.

The focus of racing  now shifts to Sydney for the so called Championships. Next weekend Rosehill will feature five Group 1 races including the Golden Slipper Stakes.

Speaking of the Sydney races, the Coolmore Classic resulted in an upset win by long shot Plucky Belle, who pipped favourite First Seal at the post. Diamond Drille ran third.

I’ll miss my Saturday afternoon outings to the races as I’m really only interested in attending the Group meetings. So I will be watching the action from Sydney at home from now on.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Super Saturday Comes Around Again

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Red Cadeaux – returning to scale after the 2014 Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne autumn racing carnival has been a tad underwhelming thus far, but all that will change this coming Saturday when Flemington hosts a stellar meeting, featuring the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap and the Australian Cup.

Red Cadeaux is a great favourite of the Australian racing public after running second in the 2011, 2013 and 2014 Melbourne Cups, so it will be a rare and wonderful treat to see him back at Flemington in the 2015 Australian Cup.  He’s now 9 years old and has raced in Europe, Asia and Australia over his long career.  Whether he can win the Australian Cup is another matter, as he’s not won over the distance.

His rivals in the Australian Cup include 2014 Melbourne Cup winner, Protectionist who was disappointing in his first run this season over a shorter distance, but may appreciate the rise to 2000 metres . Also in the field is the popular Tasmanian frontrunner The Cleaner, who will no doubt perform that function again on Saturday and be hard to catch.  Happy Trails, Foreteller and Mourinho are the top chances, based on form at the track.

The Newmarket Handicap looks to be a race made in heaven with the world’s top sprinters Lankan Rupee, Terravista, Chautuaqua and Brazen Beau set to clash.  The first three have faced each other previously in the Darley Classic on Emirates Stakes day last spring, where Terravista was the winner from Chautauqua and Lankan Rupee with less than a length separating them in the finish. Lankan Rupee is top weight, carrying 58.5kg, giving his main rivals a few kilos advantage. Brazen Beau, being only three years old is lightly weighted on 52kg and could well upstage his older rivals as a consequence,  especially with champion jockey Joao Moreira on board.  Can the new strategy of running Lankan Rupee off the speed work again?  I certainly hope so.

I intend to arrive early at Flemington on Saturday, specifically to witness Race  2, the Listed MSS Security Stakes, a race for three year olds  run over 1100 metres. Two of my favourite fillies – Earthquake and Sistonic – are part of the large field of 15 runners.  It will be a mad dash down the Flemington straight and I do hope one of the above fillies wins. Also in the picture are Royal Snitzel, Cornrow and Nostradamus as next best dressed.

The rest of the race card at Flemington is fairly interesting – enough to entertain me as I await the running of the Group 1 races. There are three Group 2 races on the program which will be worth watching.

The Living Legends representatives will be Better Loosen Up, who won the Australian Cup in 1991 (one of eight Group 1 wins) and Zipping who won it in 2010.

The weather is expected to be fine and sunny again in Melbourne on Saturday.

Not so Sydney, which has copped a big storm over the past few days which no doubt will affect the track at Rosehill.  The feature race there is the Group 1 Coolmore Classic, a race over 1500 metres for fillies and mares. Hot favourite is First Seal who won the Group 1 Flight Stakes back in spring. She has been penalised with a weight impost, but is obviously the one to beat on form, having won her last start by 2.8 lengths. Her main opposition comes from Tinto, Adrift, Plucky Belle, Arabian Gold and good old Dear Demi.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Miracles Still Happen–A Review of Guineas Day

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Wandjina returns to scale after winning the Australian Guineas

Today is International Women's Day, and the girls did the gender proud yesterday, in Sydney in the main.

Gai Waterhouse, lady trainer supreme, notched up two of the Group 1 winners – Cosmic Endeavour in the Canterbury Stakes at Randwick and Wandjina in the Australian Guineas at Flemington. She also trained two other winners at Randwick – English in the Riesling Stakes and Vancouver in the Todman Stakes.

The race result that pleased me the most was the win of little Miracles of Life in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes, where she won with ease, beating a classy field of sprinters.

My day at the races was enhanced by the win of Madam Gangster in the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes, where admittedly she ended up starting favourite. However I got a good price on her before she became favourite, which paid for my few purchases (a race book and a drink) and a few unsuccessful bets.

I arrived at Flemington in time for Race 3, the Saintly Handicap. I didn’t have a bet on it or the next three races, but watched the Peter Moody trained Orient Line win over Hi World and Maastricht.

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Orient Line returns to scale after winning the Saintly Handicap

After that I went and visited the Living Legends in the stalls area.

Apache Cat was hanging around outside his stall and posed for a photo as I drew out my camera…

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Apache Cat

…and Bullish Luck was munching hay in his stall, totally unfazed by the situation.

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Bullish Luck

Whilst in the area I checked out the arrivals and came across Tassie horse Admiral in his stall.

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Several other contenders for the feature race were also in attendance…

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The handsome Alpine Eagle

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Guineas favourite Kermadec

Trackside, the runners were leaving the mounting yard for Race 4, the Group 3 Tab Rewards Stakes. It was won by 10/1 shot Amorino from Aeronautical and Gracious Prospect.

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Amorino returns to scale after winning the Tab Rewards Stakes

As I wrote in my previous post, the Flemington support card was not all that interesting, so it was a case of hanging out for the main event.

Race 5 (Roy Higgins Quality) was a race over 2600 metres for old stayers. An old stayer, Crafty Cruiser, was the winner. He hadn’t won a race for seven months. He beat Martinvast by a short margin with Rawnaq a half length third.

Here’s some photos of them in the mounting yard

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Crafty Cruiser

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It started to get interesting at the 6th race, the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes. For fillies and mares it is run over 1400 metres.

As mentioned before I had a bet on Madam Gangster, having determined on Friday that she was good thing and that her name resonated with me in a positive way.

She won easily, sneaking along the inside and exploding to the front leaving Girl Guide and Nadeem Miss in her wake, winning by 1¾ lengths. That was her fourth win in succession.

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Madam Gangster returns to scale after winning the Frances Tressady Stakes

Finally the feature race was due to be run.

I’d watched the Randwick Guineas earlier, and it was a great competition between the top three Sydney colts with Hallowed Crown being the victor. Sweynesse ran second and Shooting To Win hung on for third.

The Canterbury Stakes was run before the Australian Guineas so I took time out to watch it before returning to the public lawn. Cosmic Endeavour leading from start to finish, denied Catkins her first group 1 win. Catkins, ever reliable,  finished second, unable to catch the winner in the straight. Criterion ran third.

The Australian Guineas was the quality race of the day in Melbourne and delivered an exciting finish. Wandjina took up the lead from early in the race, and though Alpine Eagle tried hard, he just couldn’t catch him, losing by a short margin. Stratum Star finished third half a length behind. I had my money on Alpine Eagle for a win only, so didn’t have to hang around for correct weight.

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Wandjina in the winners rug post race.

Next Saturday there is more Group 1 action at Flemington with the Australian Cup and Newmarket Handicap being the feature races.  Always a great day, I’ll be there with bells on.

Friday, March 06, 2015

My Thoughts for Two Guineas

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Shamus Award – winner of the 2014 Australian Guineas

The title of this post is a reflection on the unusual situation where two Group 1 Guineas races for three year olds are being run on the same day, these being the Randwick Guineas in Sydney and the Australian Guineas at Flemington tomorrow.  One rather wonders who was responsible for the programming, but it all smacks of the tedious rivalry between Sydney’s racing authorities and Melbourne’s.

Both races are over the same distance of 1600 metres, but the Randwick Guineas offers better prize money ($60,000 more).  A very small, but classy field of six contestants will start in the Randwick Guineas. Top chances are Hallowed Crown, Sweynesse and Shooting To Win, who will probably run the trifecta.

The Australian Guineas, by contrast, despite attracting a capacity field, has not the same depth of class. Alpine Eagle who impressed with his Autumn Classic win at Caulfield last Saturday has to be a top chance. Then there’s  Wandjina who recently won the CS Hayes Stakes at Flemington at his last start and can’t be overlooked. The interesting runner is Admiral, a Tasmanian galloper who beat The Cleaner at his last start. He’s had twelve starts for nine wins in his home state, and could well steal the prize from the mainlanders.  Kermadec was originally entered into the Randwick Guineas, but was scratched from that to run in this. He ran a close third to Hallowed Crown and Sweynesse in the Hobartville Stakes at his last start so is also likely to be in the finish.

There are the two fillies – Fontein Ruby and Sweet And Speedy – who may cause a boilover. Several fillies have won this race in the past – Miss Finland, Shamrocker and Mosheen, for example.

The Flemington support card is not half as interesting as that at Randwick, where the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes is also on the program and has a really interesting field that includes the bonny grey mare Catkins trying again for her first Group 1 victory.  Whether she’ll succeed is another matter, as she faces a pretty classy field that includes Sacred Falls, Royal Descent, Criterion, Hooked and Cosmic Endeavour.  Whatever, I’ll be barracking for Catkins.

Another of my favourite mares, Miracles of Life resumes at Randwick in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes. At her second last start in Spring she dead heated with Bel Sprinter in the Caulfield Sprint. Also part of the field is Rubick, resuming after a break and Mossfun, the 2014 Golden Slipper winner.

Sort of Golden Slipper Preludes, the Group 2 Riesling Stakes and Todman Stakes kick off the Randwick program. Last year these two races were at Rosehill – I was there to watch them with Earthquake and Ghibellines being the respective winners.

The Riesling Stakes has smart fillies Fireworks, Ottoman and Stay With Me as the main contenders, whereas the Todman Stakes’ top chances are Headwater and Vancouver, both with big wraps on them, in what will be an interesting race to watch.

I’ll be heading out to Flemington for another afternoon at the races. Living Legends Apache Cat, who won the Australian Guineas in 2006 and Bullish Luck, a former Hong Kong champion racehorse will be there to add interest to the day.

The weather here in Melbourne is cool and overcast at present and is expected to be the same tomorrow; pleasant weather for the races and taking photographs.