Monday, February 20, 2017

The Great Horse Raceday–AKA Lightning Stakes Day

lightning stakes_terravista 6
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.

legends_apache cat 3

In stall 73 was the 2000 Melbourne Cup winner Brew

legends_brew 4

In stall 74 was three time Sandown Classic winner Zipping

legends_zipping 1

In stall 75 was Efficient who won the 2007 Melbourne Cup

legends_efficient 3

1994 Caulfield Cup winner Paris Lane occupied stall 76

legends_paris lane 1

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

legends_might and power 5

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

legends_rogan josh 2

Hong Kong champion Bullish Luck occupied stall 79

legends_bullish luck 1

Another Hong Kong star Good Ba Ba was in stall 80

legends_good ba ba 3

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

legends_silent witness 1

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.

race 2_finish
Japan Racing Association Trophy finish

race 2_zebrinz
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.

ponies 1
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.

race 4_finish 1
Talindert Stakes finish

race 4_ducimus 3
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.

race 5_finish 1
Kenedna overtakes Extra Olives close to the finishing post

race 5_kenedna 4
Kenedna returns to scale

race 5_extra olives 1
Extra Olives on her way to the starting gates

race 5_harlow gold 2
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.

race 6_finish 1
C S Hayes Stakes finish – Hey Doc leads

race 6_hey doc 5
Hey Doc poses for the press in the winners rug

race 6_malaise 1
Malaise on his way to the barriers

race 6_land of plenty 1
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.

race 7 _finish
A blanket finish in the Ascot Racecourse Trophy – Post d’France is the widest in blinkers

race 7 _post d' france
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.

lightning stakes_finish 1
BC Lightning finish – Terravista (orange silks) is about to overtake Star Turn(green cap) Spieth (yellow cap) & Illustrious Lad (lime green cap)

lightning stakes_terravista 1
Terravista returns to scale

lightning stakes_speith 1
Spieth returns to scale

lightning stakes_star turn 2
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)

race 5_flying artie 2
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

orr stakes_black heart bart 7
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.

stalls_el divino 1
El Divino (Winx little brother)

stalls_chautauqua 1
The grey flash Chautauqua

stalls_turn me loose 3
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.

bd prelude_fillies_finish 2
Catchy (outside) & Limestone still head to head just after the post.

bd prelude_fillies_catchy 1
Catchy returns to scale

bd prelude_fillies_limestone 1
Limestone returns to scale

bd prelude_fillies_artic angel 3
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.

bd prelude_colts_finish 1
Colts Blue Diamond Prelude finish just past the post

bd prelude_colts_property 3
Property returns to scale

bd prelude_colts_pariah 4
Pariah returns to scale

bd prelude_colts_wait for no one 1
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.

race 5_finish 1
Kevin Hayes Stakes finish – Fuhryk (blinkers) has the advantage

race 5_fuhryk 3
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.

rubiton_finish 2
Rubiton Stakes finish just past the post

rubiton_super cash 2
Super Cash returns to scale

rubiton_i am a star_wild rain 2
I Am A Star (inside) and Wild Rain return to scale together

rubiton_chautauqua 3
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.

orr stakes_finish 1
Orr Stakes finish – Black Heart Bart , Turn Me Loose & Ecuador are the leading three.

orr stakes_black heart bart 10
Brad Rawiller salutes riding Black Heart Bart back to scale

orr stakes_turn me loose 2
Turn Me Loose on his way to the starting gates

orr stakes_equador 3
Ecuador returns to scale

orr stakes_jameka 3
Jameka returns to scale

orr stakes_palentino_turn me loose 2
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.


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!