Monday, February 20, 2017

The Great Horse Raceday–AKA Lightning Stakes Day

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Terravista in winners rug

Because the feature race was named for the triple winner of the Lightning Stakes, i.e. Black Caviar, the raceday was advertised as The Great Horse Raceday and ten of the Living Legends were present to celebrate the occasion.

They were all next to each other in stalls 72 to 81.

In stall 72 was the popular champion sprinter Apache Cat who, among his other achievements, won the Lightning Stakes in 2008.

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In stall 73 was the 2000 Melbourne Cup winner Brew

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In stall 74 was three time Sandown Classic winner Zipping

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In stall 75 was Efficient who won the 2007 Melbourne Cup

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1994 Caulfield Cup winner Paris Lane occupied stall 76

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In stall 77 was 1997 Caulfield & Melbourne Cups & 1998 Cox Plate winner Might And Power

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In stall 78 was Rogan Josh who won the 1999 Melbourne Cup

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Hong Kong champion Bullish Luck occupied stall 79

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Another Hong Kong star Good Ba Ba was in stall 80

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Winner of 17 successive races in Hong Kong, Silent Witness was in stall 81

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It was great to see so many of the old gentlemen of the turf together, particularly my old favourites Apache Cat, Efficient and Brew.

I arrived at Flemington earlier than I anticipated just before race 2 in fact.

No sooner had I stepped out onto the public lawn than a heavy shower of rain plummetted down which sent the crowd  scurrying for cover. I took shelter under a beach umbrella with several other cheery souls.

The shower passed quickly so I made my way up to my usual spot just past the winning post to watch the Japan Racing Association Trophy, a not terribly interesting race, but good for photography practice.

It was taken out by Zebrinz with Sadaqa and Duke of Brunswick filling the minor placings.

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Japan Racing Association Trophy finish

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Zebrinz returns to scale

The inner rail was out 9 metres, so it was hard to get photos of horses clear of the outer rail.

After Race 2, I wandered up to the stalls area, which was where I came across the Living Legends all together. I dilly dallied there for so long I didn’t have time to get back to my spot on the fence for Race 3, the Singapore Turf Club Trophy.

It was won by Well Sprung from Boomwa and Kirani.

With Race 4 being the Talindert Stakes the racing action grew more interesting, so I was back in my spot for the race, where nearby the ponies for children’s rides were grazing on the lawn.

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Ponies for children’s rides

Up further there appeared to be some sort of martial arts demonstration going on to loud music, but I didn’t bother going there to see it.

Ducimus started as favourite for the Talindert and won by a whisker to Taking Aim, with Sanadaat a further length behind running third.

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Talindert Stakes finish

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Ducimus returns to scale

The first of the Group 3 three year old races were up next, the fillies Vanity Stakes being Race 5. Legless Veuve was understandably the starting favourite, but she finished unplaced.

Kenedna was the long shot winner, beating the more fancied runners by over a length. Extra Olives finished second ahead of Harlow Gold.

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Kenedna overtakes Extra Olives close to the finishing post

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Kenedna returns to scale

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Extra Olives on her way to the starting gates

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Harlow Gold on her way to the starting gates

I was pleased when Hey Doc was victorious in the C S Hayes Stakes, winning easily from long shots Malaise and Land of Plenty.

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C S Hayes Stakes finish – Hey Doc leads

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Hey Doc poses for the press in the winners rug

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Malaise on his way to the barriers

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Land of Plenty on his way to the barriers

Throughout the afternoon, brief showers of rain passed through causing a rush for shelter. It was also quite chilly, so I was glad I’d worn a jumper and put on shoes and socks.

There was only one more race to go before the feature event, and this was the Ascot Racecourse Trophy, a race over 2000 metres for stayers.

A great many in the field were unfamiliar to me, so I had little interest in the outcome. Post d’France was the narrow winner to starting favourite Hursley with Annus Mirabilis running third.

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A blanket finish in the Ascot Racecourse Trophy – Post d’France is the widest in blinkers

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Post d’France returns to scale

It had been a long afternoon, and I’d got plenty of exercise into the bargain, so it was relief when the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes was set to run.

High drama at the barriers delayed proceedings, when The Quarterback became agitated in the stalls, reared and flipped over, getting trapped under the stalls, collecting a few horses in the stalls next to him.

It resulted in The Quarterback, Fatinaah and Oruju all being scratched. Fortunately none of them were seriously hurt.

So a depleted field of nine finally started, all of them racing in a bunch down the middle of track. Heatherly, Illustrious Lad and Star Turn led the rest until close to the finish line where Terravista broke through for a well deserved win. Spieth finished second and Star Turn hung on for third.

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BC Lightning finish – Terravista (orange silks) is about to overtake Star Turn(green cap) Spieth (yellow cap) & Illustrious Lad (lime green cap)

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Terravista returns to scale

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Spieth returns to scale

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Star Turn returns to scale

Flying Artie started as the race favourite but finished third last, reportedly over racing and ruining his chances. 

Terravista finished an unlucky second in the BC Lightning last year to Chautauqua.

With the Lightning Stakes done and dusted I headed for the station and home, avoiding the centre of the city altogether, which was gearing up for White Night.

Next Saturday the racing action is back at Caulfield for the Blue Diamond Stakes meeting, featuring three Group 1 races. And in Sydney. wonder mare Winx will be contesting the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Speed of Light(ning)

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Flying Artie – Derby Day Flemington 2016

Flemington hosts a super race meeting this coming Saturday, which despite a gloomy weather forecast, promises many thrills, in particular the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning, a 1000 metre dash down the Flemington straight.

I’ve attended the last five Lightning Stakes meetings, the first two in 2012 and 2013 featuring Black Caviar. The race is now named in her honour - after all she won it three times.

Last year it was won by the grey flash Chautauqua and the year before, the “horse with a heart”, Lankan Rupee, was the victor. Many stars of the Australian turf have won this race over the years – Fastnet Rock, Miss Andretti, Takeover Target, Apache Cat etc.

This year has attracted an intriguing field with several of the younger sprinting brigade such as three year old colts Flying Artie and Star Turn challenging older sprinters Flamberge and Terravista and The Quarterback and all those in between.

Also in the field is speedy mare Heatherly who may well give the boys a run for the money.

Owing to the train timetable, I’ll be obliged to get to Flemington around 1.30pm, which means a fairly long afternoon at the track with the Lightning Stakes scheduled to run at 4.45pm.

Luckily there are several quite interesting races to watch while waiting for the main event. Firstly the Talindert Stakes for two year old Blue Diamond hopefuls. I witnessed Black Caviar’s little brother All Too Hard win the Talindert Stakes back in 2012 at his first start. Interestingly, several  (four) of his progeny are contesting this year’s race, and one or other of them may well win it.

The Group 3 Vanity Stakes for three year old fillies run over 1400 metres and the colts equivalent the C S Hayes Stakes run after it, have both attracted classy fields. The Vanity has Legless Veuve who recently beat the boys in the Manfred Stakes, up against Crown Oaks runner up Harlow Gold and the amusingly named Nurse Kitchen who won a race at big odds on Cox Plate Day last year.

As for the C S Hayes, it’s good to see Hey Doc return to the track. He’s already had one run this season in the Manfred Stakes where he finished third and will probably start as favourite. He’s up against smart colts Seaburge, Morton’s Fork and Inside Agent.

Apparently, according to the VRC website, there will be ten Living Legends present at Flemington on Saturday. They could make a race field themselves if they weren’t in retirement.  They’ll include former Hong Kong stars Silent Witness and Bullish Luck. And who else?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting back to Flemington and a pleasant afternoon in the open air among the famous roses.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bart Bags the Booty - Orr Stakes Day Review

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Black Heart Bart returns to scale after winning the Orr Stakes

The Sydney races at Randwick were cancelled last Saturday due to the extreme heat and will be run today (Monday) instead, so we’ll get to see Winx race in the Apollo Stakes at 5.40pm this afternoon.

In Melbourne the weekend weather was very pleasant, Saturday being a partly sunny day with a light breeze – perfect for an afternoon turfside.

As planned, I arrived at Caulfield in plenty of time for the first of the Blue Diamond Preludes and had time before the race to cruise through the stalls and check out who had arrived.

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El Divino (Winx little brother)

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The grey flash Chautauqua

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The beautiful Turn Me Loose

I’ve given up trying to take photos from the public lawn, the hedge is so high I can barely see over it to get a clear shot. So I spent most of the afternoon on the hill above the stalls area, which was remarkably uncrowded.

Soon enough the fillies were assembling for their Blue Diamond Prelude and Catchy started favourite with Limestone being the second pick.

The race ended with Catchy and Limestone fighting out the finish, Catchy winning by a nose. Arctic Angel finished third, 1.35 lengths behind the leading two.

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Catchy (outside) & Limestone still head to head just after the post.

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Catchy returns to scale

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Limestone returns to scale

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Arctic Angel returns to scale

Sydney colt Pariah was the starting favourite for the colts and geldings Blue Diamond Prelude, but he was outgunned by Property, who has now won the Blue Diamond Preview and Prelude double. Can he add the actual Blue Diamond Stakes to his wins?  The last horse to do so was Sepoy in 2011. Wait For No One finished third.

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Colts Blue Diamond Prelude finish just past the post

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Property returns to scale

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Pariah returns to scale

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Wait For No One in the parade ground – a real good looker

Race 5 was the Group 3 Kevin Hayes Stakes, run over 1200 metres,  for three year old fillies.

Fuhryk, who I admit I had never heard of, started favourite and  scored a good two length win over Oregon’s Day and Savanna Amour.

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Kevin Hayes Stakes finish – Fuhryk (blinkers) has the advantage

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Fuhryk returns to scale

Chautauqua was the star attraction in Race 6, the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes where he started as top weight and warm favourite.  However, he didn’t win, finishing third after leaving his run too late.  Victory went to rank outsider Super Cash with I Am A Star running second. Chautauqua’s connections were left scratching their heads and came to the conclusion that he is looking for longer races these days.  So they are going to try him over 1400 metres next.

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Rubiton Stakes finish just past the post

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Super Cash returns to scale

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I Am A Star (inside) and Wild Rain return to scale together

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Chautauqua returns to scale

Finally it was time for the feature event, the Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes and a fine field had turned up for it. Black Heart Bart held narrow favouritism over Malaguerra at race start time and didn’t disappoint his supporters with a grand win, overtaking race leader Turn Me Loose close to the post and winning by a length. I was delighted to see Turn Me Loose show that he is back to the form that won him two Group 1 races in spring 2015 (Emirates Stakes) and autumn 2016 (Futurity Stakes). His main aim this autumn is to win the Futurity Stakes for a second time. 

The Gai Waterhouse trained Ecuador ran third and Jameka and Palentino dead heated for fourth.

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Orr Stakes finish – Black Heart Bart , Turn Me Loose & Ecuador are the leading three.

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Brad Rawiller salutes riding Black Heart Bart back to scale

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Turn Me Loose on his way to the starting gates

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Ecuador returns to scale

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Jameka returns to scale

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Palentino and Turn Me Loose returning to scale

Calling it quits after the Orr Stakes I headed for the station and home having enjoyed another pleasant afternoon at the races.

Next week the Group 1 action is at Flemington with the feature race being the Black Caviar Lightning.

Later…

Just watched the running of the Apollo Stakes and Winx won like the champion she is, notching up her 14th win in succession. Go Winx!