As we migrate through the month of May, it’s relatively quiet on the local Australian front.
Though there were Group 1 races over in Adelaide and up at Doomben, there was probably more interest in the saddlecloths worn by incumbent Scott Morrison and his charge ‘Scomo’, and the challenger from the left Bill Shorten, and his contender ‘Shortenin’ The Odds’.
The Federal Elections made for as much gruesome viewing as the recent episodes of Game of Thrones!
South Australian Derby
Let’s recap with last week’s shock result over at Morphettville, where the filly Qafila prevailed over the boys with a carefully plotted strategy to win the South Australian Derby (2500m).
And as it turned it out, it was quite a comfortable victory in the end.
It’s rare that the fillies contest the colts/ gelding races as three-year-olds, but she was an exception.
She was never headed from the top of the straight, and led them a merry chase to defeat the Bussittin/Young trained Savvy Oak with the favourite Mr Quickie a fast finishing third.
The victory was a sweet reminder from jockey Corey Parish, who is capable of riding the big races for Group 1 glory, despite having difficulty (other than Lindsay Park) to ride good horses from other stables.
Of course, Parish is associated with another Lindsay Park galloper in Boom Time, winner of the 2017 Caulfield Cup.
Where Qafila goes from here is unsure.
It wasn’t long ago she was racing in lesser class races and not faring very well either.
She can obviously stay, as evidenced by her run the previous week in the Australasian Oaks (to run fourth) but there are not many opportunities left in the current season to improve upon her record, other than the Queensland Oaks.
Given the reluctance of David Hayes to race up in Queensland, she might just be put out to the paddock for now.
Lord Mayor’s Cup, Rosehill
Another former import, the French grey galloper Grey Lion picked up a handy win in the Lord Mayor’s Cup (2000m) up at Rosehill on the weekend.
This follows on from a prior victory in the JRA Plate at Randwick a few weeks earlier.
Formerly trained at Ballarat by Matt Cumani, the OTI ownership transferred him to the Warwick Farm stables of Matt Smith, where he seems to be thriving.
Grey Lion previously raced in the 2016 edition of the Melbourne Cup won by Almandin, and was also sighted in the Geelong Cup a few weeks earlier where he ran second to Charlie Appleby’s galloper Qewy, with Oceanographer coming home late for third.
There is a suggestion from OTI that Grey Lion is not really suited to the longer trip of 3200m, and they may continue to race him around the 2000 to 2400m distance range.
His next big assignment is likely to be the Brisbane Cup (Group 2, 2400m) according to Smith.
Over in the UK
He’s probably the undoubted staying star over in England at the moment.
And his name is Stradivarius.
Because he is so dominant over there, it is highly unlikely he’ll make his way down under due to the severe handicapping penalty he will most likely incur from the VRC Handicapper
Last season, the John Gosden trained five-year-old won all before him, and picked up a million pound bonus for winning the Yorkshire Cup, Coronation Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup, Lonsdale Cup and the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.
This new season will follow the same program as last season, and to get things underway, the classy chestnut and son of Sea The Stars with Frankie Dettori onboard returned to York to the scene of last years crime, picking up the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup on the weekend, defeating Aidan O’Brien’s Irish galloper Southern France, with Mildenberger back in third and Charlie Appleby’s Ispolini (who we’ve written about before) disappointing in fourth place.
The next big assignment for Stradivarius will be the Coronation Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in a few weeks time.
A star studded lineup of top British, Irish and European stayers will be assembled for that one. Stay tuned for that race!
This week leads into the Andrew Ramsden Stakes at Flemington, but one contender who won’t be there is the Hayes Hayes Dabernig import Furrion.
The winner of 7 of his 10 starts including the recent Warrnambool Cup has a minor leg issue and the Lindsay Park operation won’t risk him running at this stage, so will put him out until Spring.
The field will be published this Wednesday.
A possible late entrant could be Kiwi stayer Big Mike, who won the listed Pakenham Cup last year on a lightning raid to Melbourne.
He won on the weekend in New Zealand, but connections will need to get their skates on if they intend lining him up on Saturday.
That’s all for this weeks Melbourne Cup Watch Report. Keep checking in with us for more, as we count down to the first Tuesday in November 2019.