Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Lightning Review–Home Affairs To the Fore

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Black Caviar Lightning –Home Affairs leads with Nature Strip & Eduardo in hot pursuit

My arrival at Flemington on Saturday afternoon was earlier than I anticipated. This was due to the train timetable, where I erred on the side of caution rather than cutting fine my connection to the Flemington train at Southern Cross Station.

Not to worry, I at least got to see Race 3, the Vale Jack Styring Trophy, a race over 1600 metres, and could practice  photography before the real action began.

The unbeaten mare Yonce having only her fourth start was the warm favourite and she won easily from Groovy Kinda Love and Divine Diosa , running from the back of the field to overtake the leaders.

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Yonce (blue silks) challenges Divine Diosa (pink)

The Talindert Stakes was up next but before that was set to run I sauntered up to the stalls area to see who had arrived.

Several of the sprinters engaged in the Lightning Stakes were already in their stalls…

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The Inferno

The three above were in proximity to each other in the first section of the stalls area, so I didn’t bother heading to the back stalls area, returning to my spot on the fence to see the two year olds run in the Talindert Stakes.

In all the Blue Diamond build up races there has been a different winner each time, not any of the two year olds contesting those races repeating the feat in another race. This makes assessing the actual Blue Diamond Stakes quite tricky with no stand out performers evident.

Such was the case in the Talindert with filly I’mlovin’ya winning the prize from Waltz On By and Lamda at her second start.

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I’mlovin’ya  (pink)  about to overtake Waltz On By to win the Talindert Stakes

It was a pleasant sunny day at Flemington, hot in the sun, but I found a cool spot to have sit between races in the Elms area.

The Group 3 Vanity Stakes was next to run.  A race for three year old  fillies it is run over 1400 metres.

Barb Raider was the favourite and she didn’t disappoint her backers winning from a fast finishing Cardigan Queen with race leader Ancient Girl hanging on for third.

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Barb Raider (lime)) Ancient Girl (pink) & Cardigan Queen (red cap)

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Barb Raider on her way to the barriers

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Cardigan Queen returns to scale

Then there was only one more race to run before the highly anticipated Black Caviar Lightning and this was the Group 3 C S Hayes Stakes, also run over 1400 metres for Guineas bound colts and geldings.

Pretty boy Lightsaber started as favourite but he played up in the barriers and was subsequently scratched.  Pascero lead the field for most of the race and put a good gap on the chasers, but a swooping runs from Pinstriped overtook him on the line. Captivant finished third.

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Pinstriped (no 7) wins the C S Hayes Stakes from Pascero

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Pinstriped returns to scale

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Pascero  on his way to the barriers

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Lightsaber on his way to the barriers- an exceptionally photogenic horse

The Black Caviar Lightning lived up to its hype, though not in a way that anyone envisaged.

From the start it was dramatic with Nature Strip’s lunge from the gate stymied by Profiteer who veered left into his trajectory, causing him to lose ground. Profiteer continued to  race erratically throughout most of the race, causing interference to several other runners . Nature Strip denied his usual style of taking the lead had to catch up to the leader, Home Affairs, who was unimpeded in his run.

As the winning post drew closer, Nature Strip was seen to be gaining ground and caught up to Home Affairs at the post, to lose by a whisker.  Eduardo, who was also hampered by Profiteer at the start, finished third.

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Home Affairs returns to scale

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Nature Strip returns to scale

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Eduardo returns to scale

I did not tarry after the Lightning, heading for the station directly to catch the train.

Next Saturday I’m looking forward to returning to Caulfield for Blue Diamond Stakes Day.

Friday, February 18, 2022

The Black Caviar Lightning 2022

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Nature Strip at Flemington 2020

Ten years ago unbeaten mare Black Caviar won her second Lightning Stakes. She would win it again in 2013 when the race was renamed in her honour to the Black Caviar Lightning.

Last year due to Covid restrictions the general public were not permitted to attend the meeting, so I missed seeing Nature Strip, under the guidance of top female jockey, Jamie Ka, win the race.

Jamie Ka will be riding Nature Strip tomorrow, his regular jockey James McDonald opting to ride three year old Home Affairs in the race.

The 2022 Black Caviar Lightning is being touted as the best ever edition of the race owing to the field of nine top sprinters all kicking off their autumn season at the same time. My heart will be with the beautiful Nature Strip, but he faces stiff competition from regular rivals such as Eduardo, Masked Crusader and Gytrash. Throw in wild cards like The Inferno and three year old speedsters Home Affairs and Profiteer and you’ve got a thriller of a race.

I’m glad that I will be at Flemington tomorrow to witness the event.

It has been almost a year since I was last at Flemington, so I’m looking forward to getting back to the big track for first class racing action again.

Happily the weather  is forecast to be mostly sunny and a pleasant 24°C with light winds.

As well as the Black Caviar Lightning there are two Group 3 races, these being the Vanity Stakes for three year old fillies and the C S Hayes Stakes for three year old colts and geldings.

I intend to arrive at Flemington in time to watch the two year old babies contest the  Listed Talindert Stakes.

Unlike last week it won’t be an overlong afternoon at the races, the Black Caviar Lightning being scheduled as Race 7 and run at 4.25 pm, which gives me plenty of time to catch the first train back to the city at 4.51pm.

Happy Retirement Probabeel!

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Probabeel at Caulfield 2021 on her way to winning the Group 1 Futurity Stakes

The disappointing news this week was that wonderful New Zealand mare Probabeel has run her last race and has been retired after suffering a suspensory ligament injury.

She was a grand race mare who raced in top company and won four Group 1 races, beating first class fields.

I’m glad I got to see her win her final race last week, but she will be missed as she always  added a bit of class to any race day where she was set to run.

We can always look forward to seeing her progeny racing a few years hence.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Tofane stars at Caulfield–Orr Stakes Day Review

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Tofane leads all the way to win the 2022 Orr Stakes

As anticipated it was a long day at Caulfield racecourse last Saturday, but worth the effort with the racing action being engaging and bright sunlight the order of the day.

My arrival at the track,  a little after 1.30 pm, was in plenty of time for the first of the Blue Diamond Preludes, this being for colts and geldings and run over 1100 metres.

Jacquinot was the favourite, but missed out on running a place. 10/1 shot Lofty Strike with a burst of speed down the outside won the prize from Semillion, and Blue Diamond Preview winner Daumier ran third.

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Lofty Strike takes the lead from Semillion as they charge to the finish line

The fillies Blue Diamond Prelude was the next to run and impressive Blue Diamond Preview winner Miss Roseiano was the hot favourite. She raced on the speed second to race leader English Riviera, but after briefly taking the lead was pipped at the post by Revolutionary Miss, another long odds winner.

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Revolutionary Miss (red silks) about to overtake Miss Roseiano & English Riviera

It certainly wasn’t a day for favourites as the result of Race 5, the Group 3 Kevin Hayes Stakes, only went to prove when Argentia spoiled the party for Scorched Earth at odds of 8.5/1, 

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Argentia (white silks) looms into the picture about to overtake Scorched Earth

The next race, the Group 3 TS Carlyon Cup, was run over 1600 metres. It had an interesting field of contenders that included Spanish Mission who ran third in 2021 Melbourne Cup, as well as one time Melbourne Cup favourite Surprise Baby who has been off the scene for a couple of years due to injury.  All Star Mile aspirant Callsign Mav was also in the field.

French bred import Normandy Bridge started favourite, but as with the earlier results, he finished unplaced.

Callsign Mav and Earlswood ended up fighting out the finish with 14/1 shot Earlswood being the victor by a narrow margin. Spanish Mission finished third and Surprise Baby ran fourth.

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Earlswood (red silks) & Callsign Mav neck and neck down the straight

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Earlswood on his way to the barriers

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Callsign Mav on his way to the barriers

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Spanish Mission on his way to the barriers

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Surprise Baby on his way to the barriers

After the Carlyon Cup had been run there was only one more race before the Orr Stakes to witness.

The afternoon had passed quite quickly and despite the intensity of the sunshine it wasn’t hard to find a cool shaded spot to sit for a bit between races.

The crowd was larger than the two previous meetings I had attended, and I was pleased to see my photographer friends Rebecca and George back at the track again.

The stalls area at Caulfield has changed considerably. It all looks bare and treeless and quite different to what was there before.

Race 7, the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes was next up. A sprint over 1100 metres, and for a change the favourite, Marine One, was successful this time and won by over a length from Oxley Road and Sword of Mercy.

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Marine One (no 8) overtaking Sword of Mercy and Oxley Road

Our favourite spot on the fence by this time was in the shade though the track was still bathed in sunlight, so it was more comfortable to watch the running of the Orr Stakes.

As mentioned before, Tofane took the lead from the start and was never threatened, going on to win by over a length from fellow mare Lighthouse with Cascadian running third.

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Tofane burns up the straight

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Tofane in the mounting yard post race

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Lighthouse on her way to the barriers

Pretty boy Lightsaber missed the start and ended up finishing second last, however I was glad to get some nice photos of him as he travelled to the starting gates.

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Good looker Lightsaber on his way to the barriers

The wait for the last race, even if it meant a long afternoon at the track, was worth it to see wonderful New Zealand mare Probabeel win the Bellmaine Stakes for the second year in succession.  She did it hard from the outside, carrying a top weight of 60kg, overtaking the leaders Mariamia and Flying Mascot to win at the last instant.

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Probabeel zooming to overtake Flying Mascot and win the Bellmaine Stakes

My trip home was uneventful though it was close to 7.00 pm when I  finally got there.

Next Saturday I’m looking forward to going to Flemington for the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes. It looks a doozy of a race with  a top field of sprinters that include Nature Strip, who won the race last year.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Orr Stakes Day–10 years on and counting

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Black Caviar – Orr Stakes Day 2012

The first time I ever attended a race meeting at Caulfield was on Orr Stakes Day 2012, where Black Caviar was the main attraction. It was her first and only attempt at racing over 1400 metres.

Of course she won the 2012 Orr Stakes easily, leaving one to wonder how she would have fared racing up to a mile (1600 metres). I suspect she would have handled it just as well.

The Orr Stakes is the first Group 1 race of the Autumn Racing Season, so naturally I will be in attendance for what looks a super race day with the Blue Diamond Preludes also being on the program, and the rest of the rest of support card being quite interesting.

As I’m intending to arrive in time for the Blue Diamond Preludes (races 3 and 4)  and stay for race 9, the Bellmaine Stakes to see favourite mare Probabeel attempt a back to back win, it’s going to be a long afternoon trackside.

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Probabeel winning the 2021 Bellmaine Stakes

Fortunately the weather is forecast to be warm and sunny tomorrow; a bearable 29°C with light winds.

The feature race is scheduled as Race 8 and has attracted a classy field with the likes of I’m Thunderstruck, Behemoth, Tofane, Sierra Sue, Inspirational Girl and Lighthouse all in the mix. I’m looking forward to seeing once again in the flesh the handsome Peter Moody trained colt Lightsaber

Irish import Sinawann is the current favourite with Behemoth highly fancied as well.

Sunday, February 06, 2022

Sunshine, Hot Racing at Caulfield

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Sebonack easily winning the Chairman’s Stakes

In contrast to the hot steamy conditions on the Australia Day race meeting at Caulfield, yesterday’s events at The Heath were run under sunny skies, but a cool breeze made being trackside far more tolerable.

In fact it was perfect weather for an afternoon at the track, though the races were not all that interesting.

I took my time getting to Caulfield arriving around 1.30pm, in plenty of time to witness the third race, the Neds’ Bet Live Handicap, a race over 2400 metres.

It was a pretty open field with Dirty Deeds the $5.00 favourite. Miss Five Hundred, who raced at the tail of the field for most of the journey, was the winner, holding off King’s Full to easily win by ¾ length. Salto Angel finished third.

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Miss Five Hundred (lime silks) & King’s Full  fight out the Neds’ Bet Live Handicap  finish

The feature race of the afternoon was the Group 3 Chairman's Stakes; run over 1000 metres for two year old Blue Diamond aspirants. Last year Enthaar won this race, but this year’s edition was won by Hawks trained Sebonack having his first start. His win was quite impressive after he broke clear of the pack to zoom away and win by 1¼ lengths from Nanagui with Kiko running third.

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Sebonack has a good lead on Nanagui as they charge to the finishing post

I didn’t make it a long day at the races, only staying for the next race which was the Group 3 Manfred Stakes, a race for three year olds over 1200 metres.

Generation was the warm favourite in the small five horse field and prevailed, winning easily from Zethus and Lina’s Legend.

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Generation takes the lead down the straight to win the Manfred Stakes

My trip home was uneventful and less onerous than on Australia Day, the walk home from Ivanhoe Station, though tedious, hardly raising a sweat.

Next week features the first Group 1 race of the autumn racing season, none other than the Orr Stakes, at Caulfield again, where no doubt several quality performers will be kicking off their season.

Let’s hope for another pleasant and not too hot, sunny day for the occasion.