Welcome to our third instalment of Melbourne Cup Watch 2019.
The girls get the chocolates
Probably the standout achievements on the weekend were the successes of top female jockeys on either side of the Tasman: South Australian hoop Jamie Kah picking up her first Group 1 winning ride on board Harlem in the Australian Cup, while Sam (Samantha) Collett who was New Zealand’s top jockey last season also landed her debut Group 1 win on board exciting staying mare Glory Days in the 3200m Auckland Cup.
Harlem was a surprise winner (some would say shock), his victory being a double in the race he also won at long odds last year.
He was up for the challenge, driving through with a nostril to spare from Shillelagh and Trap For Fools.
It was a super run from the Lindsay Park galloper.
A major disappointment in the race was the failure of top line stayers to make a dent in the placings.
This included Avilius, Muntahaa, The Taj Mahal, Almandin, Ventura Storm, Sound and Rekindling, the latter finishing 15 lengths behind the winner after looking likely at the top of the straight.
As a consequence, all the Lloyd Williams horses who were nominated for this Saturday’s All Star Mile have been pulled from the reserve list.
Some of these contenders will need to find form fast, in either the Tancred Stakes, Ranvet Stakes and Chairman’s Handicap, before the Sydney Cup.
Meanwhile over in Auckland, what was scheduled to be a fine day and a good track turned into a rain sodden affair by Thursday night, the track gradually downgraded to a Soft 7 by Saturday morning, but persistent heavy rain took it out to a Heavy 9 by race time.
This played right into the hands of Waverley based mare Glory Days, a renowned wet tracker who ploughed through the Ellerslie track from a wide draw and a back markers position to have the race sewn up with 300m to go.
Trainer Bill Thurlow is in the process of getting his stable star across the Tasman for the 3200m Sydney Cup.
Glory Days gets in at 51kg, so Thurlow is looking for a Randwick expert who can ride at a light weight.
Thurlow is also deciding on a plan of attack, whether to start her in the Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) at Randwick as a lead-in, or keep her in New Zealand with the Awapuni Gold Cup as her local lead-in before flying to Sydney.
If Sydney’s fickle weather holds true and produces a track worse than a Dead 6 or Soft 7, then Glory Days looks like a definite chance.
Proven over the distance, track conditions and right-hand way of going, punters should get on early!
Disappointments in the race were Mike Moroney’s Vengeur Masque and Charles Road. Both not appreciating the sodden conditions I suspect.
Of note, the last notable stayer to originate from the small community of Waverley was a certain chestnut from the early 80’s called Kiwi.
In 1983 he won both the Wellington Cup (when it was a 3200m race) and of course the Melbourne Cup.
It also looks like Cup placegetter Blue Breeze is making the trip to Sydney, according to its connections.
Today Monday (as we write this piece), lightly raced NZ bred stayer Surprise Baby (out of the Horsham stable of Paul Preusker) has taken out the Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) at only his sixth start! Surprise Baby is a four-year-old gelding out of 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking from a Kiwi broodmare Bula Baby.
“Well it’s a surprise to me!”
— Racing.com (@Racing) March 11, 2019
The race had a bit of pre-race drama due to the late scratching of Tasmanian favourite Eastender, upon Stewards advice and concern about race day treatments. More news to come on that decision later in the week.
Moving on, in our last report we mentioned that we would have a look at some three-year-old prospects out of this season’s crop and see how they would shape up as four year old’s by Spring 2019.
So far, we’ve only seen a handful of longer distance races to give us a guide, these being: the VRC Derby (2500m), the Crown Oaks (2500m) and the New Zealand Derby (2400m) which was run two weeks ago.
It’s still too early to make a call, though races coming up which should throw the spotlight on a few contenders include the New Zealand Oaks (2400m), The ATC Derby (2400m) and the ATC Oaks (2400m). These are all Blue Riband events, so there will be much interest in the end result.
So far, Extra Brut, Stars Of Carrum, Aristia (who won both the Wakeful Stakes and Crown Oaks during Melbourne Cup week) are logical standouts, while the New Zealand Derby winner Crown Prosecutor was a 100/1 outsider so his credentials aren’t set in stone just yet.
The Waterhouse/Bott trained Thinkin’ Big looked to have big wraps on his credentials during the Spring, but his bubble burst after his failure in the VRC Derby and then his subsequent sale to Hong Kong.
Other accomplished three-year-olds like The Autumn Sun and Amphitrite aren’t considered staying prospects while we still haven’t seen what Verry Ellegant is capable of, after winning the 2000m Ethereal Stakes during the Spring, but failing in the Wakeful and the Crown Oaks.
Add to that list: Maid In Heaven, winner of the Spring Champion Stakes.
We’ll have more on Kruzey’s Melbourne Cup Watch next week. Keep checking in!