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The Thoroughbred’s in-depth Perth preview reveals the chances in the Quaddie legs and all races at Belmont on Saturday.
The best bet is in race two, and there is an each-way special in the third.
To find out what our form analyst is tipping CLICK HERE
Bel Esprit, the sire of The Thoroughbred Magazine Club’s filly Belleluia, has been named Victoria’s leading stallion for season 2008-09.
This is the second consecutive season that the Eliza Park Stud-based stallion has won the award.
Bel Esprit, by Royal Academy, completed a landmark season in 08-09 by siring his first Group 1 winner, the brilliant filly Bel Mer, who won the Robert Sangster Stakes (WFA 1200m) at Morphettville in March.
Bel Mer resumes her 2009 spring campaign at Caulfield on Saturday in the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (WFA 1200m). Trainer Mick Price expects the mare to run right to her best form.
Bel Esprit also is the sire of Peter Moody’s sensational filly Black Caviar who is expected to resume shortly. Of course, Black Caviar, who is being aimed for the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m, Caulfield) in October, is a blood-sister to Belleluia. Both fillies are by Bel Esprit of out of closely related mares. Helsinge, the dam of Black Caviar, is by Desert Sun from Scandinavia, whereas Belleluia is from Song Of The Sun, by Desert Sun from Song Of Norway, the dam of Scandinavia.
Belleluia has settled in well to pre-training at Eliza Park.
Melbourne’s trainers’, jockeys’ and apprentices’ premierships all hinged on the last race of the 2008-09 season at Sandown Lakeside today, and it was season-long leader Lee Freedman who provided the headline finish.
Helped by a near-perfect ride from little-known 3kg apprentice Nathan Rose on $8 chance Charzoo, Freedman claimed his seventh metropolitan title and denied David Hayes his ninth – Freedman finished with 65 wins, Hayes with 64.
Hayes had joined his rival in the lead only last Wednesday and, despite having eight starters to Freedman’s two yesterday – and Freedman not having trained a city winner since Gibraltar Moon at Flemington on June 6 (he had only 19 runners between wins) – does not get a share of the award.
The jockeys’ premiership is shared with 71 wins by Victoria’s top riders, Damien Oliver and Craig Williams, who each had one winner today – Williams (eight rides) jumped clear when Dane The Rave ($6), trained by his father Allan, won the first race. “I was keen to get started, and I couldn’t have started better,” he said.
But ‘Ollie’ (six rides) reined him in when One Lucky Lady, trainer by Darren Weir, won the sixth. “Winners never quit and quitters never win,” Oliver said after his success. Earlier, Oliver finished second on Freedman’s only other runner for the day, Zacroona, behind All Cheval (Ibrahim Gundogdu).
It was Oliver’s eighth premiership and Williams’ fourth straight.
Nick Hall’s one win yesterday gave him 33 for the season and the apprentices’ premiership from Gundogdu (also one win yesterday) and Dean Holland (suspended) on 32.
Sydney has won more meeting (at Warwick Farm on Friday) to confirm its premier trainer – Gai Waterhouse (83.5) leads Darley’s man Peter Snowden (82, in his first full season as a trainer). Neither had a winner at Canterbury yesterday.
The jockeys’ crown is a ‘no contest’, with Hugh Bowman well clear on 98 wins.
Troy Corstens is the type of person who would prefer to dive off the 10-metre platform rather than take the easier plunge from the pool-edge springboard. He’s a risk taker.
How else can you explain why he put himself under the pressure this year of buying and syndicating 37 yearlings? The fact that the job is almost done is testimony to Corstens’ salesmanship and to his determination to take on such a task during a time of economic gloom.
“Along with Brad Spicer, who has syndicated eight yearlings, we have virtually sold all the 2009 babies,” Corstens said. “What other industry can you have nothing but still get into credit for $3 million? But I have a good credit rating and the sale companies know I can get the job done.”
Corstens’ father, leading trainer Leon Corstens, shakes his head at his son’s daring. “I don’t know where he came from, he’s nothing like me. Maybe the milkman,” he said with a laugh.
Leon Corstens marvels at his son’s ability to buy and sell horses. “Sometimes he has half of them sold before he has got back to me to tell me what he has bought.”
Team Corstens‘ labour is starting to come to fruition, and one of the stable stars, the powerful chestnut Starspangledbanner (ch c 2006, Choisir-Gold Anthem, by Made Of Gold (USA)), begins an ambitious spring campaign in Saturday’s Royal Gem Handicap (3YOs, 1000m) at Caulfield.
Troy Corstens, whose title is stable manager, said Starspangledbanner was ready for a good first-up performance, and he is not concerned about such an early start to his spring campaign, considering the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m, Flemington) on October 31 is the colt’s spring target.
“He’s not a pansy. He’s a big, gross colt who can take the work,” Corstens said.
Starspangledbanner hasn’t had an official trial but Corstens said the colt galloped impressively in a private jump-out of the gates over 800m at Werribee two weeks ago. Damien Oliver has been booked to ride Starspangledbanner, who is weighted on 58.5kg, on Saturday.
The son of Choisir, who cost $120,000 at the 2008 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, recouped his purchase price when, at his first outing, he won the $251,000 Inglis Juvenile (1000m) at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate day.
He resumed in the autumn to finish third behind Real Saga and Reward For Effort in a Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m, Caulfield) on February 8. Two weeks later, the colt finished a weakening ninth behind Reward For Effort in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield before finishing his 2YO campaign with a second behind Common Interest in the Listed Festival Of Racing Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on March 14.
After Saturday, Corstens said Starspangledbanner would run in the Group 3 Vain Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on August 15 and the Group 3 McNeil Stakes (1200m) on the same track on August 29.
After the McNeil, a decision will be made whether the colt is stretched in distance towards the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m), run at Caulfield on October 10, before being freshened for the Coolmore Stud Stakes (formerly the Ascot Vale Stakes).
“He reminds me of Fernandina last year. We thought Fernandina was an out-and-out sprinter, but after he won the Vain Stakes he won the Guineas Prelude over 1400m,” Corstens said.
Meanwhile, Corstens is working hard on selling the final slice of his successful Team Corstens 2009 Stayers’ Fund, in which he has packaged five horses, bought in New Zealand, with stout pedigrees.
“So far, we have had 18 people invest in the Stayers’ Fund, which indicates that there are people willing to be patient and race a stayer,” he said.
In the package are two colts by Pins and others by Savabeel, O’Reilly and High Chaparral.
The Group 3 Missile Stakes (WFA, 1100m), at Rosehill on Saturday, can be confusing for those who like to refer to history as a form tool.
The Missile Stakes is run as the last feature sprint of the season, in late July, as often as it is run as the first weight-for-age sprint of the new season, in August.
The confusion was at play again this week when some media outlets – on the news that trainer Peter Snowden had announced that Rarefied (b g 2006, Commands-Subtle, by Night Shift (USA)) was to run in the Missile the day he officially turns three – wrongly noted that a 3YO hasn’t won the Missile since the Danehill colt Commands, the sire of Rarefied, in 1999.
Snowden made the assumption that 3YOs have a “good record of winning” the Missile. He had good reason to think so, as he was stable foreman for Commands’ trainer John Hawkes.
In fact, Commands was a 2YO when he won the Missile on protest over Padstow, as the race was run late in July. The last 3YO to win the Missile was Dance Hero in 2005, when the race was run on July 30, two days before the gelding turned four. Spark Of Life also did it as a near 4YO in 2004.
Since the Missile was first run in 1978, the only spring 3YO to win was Guineas – also trained by Hawkes – in 1997, who was resuming after a brilliant autumn campaign in which he won the Group 1 Golden Slipper. Select Prince (1989) is the other late season 2YO to win the Missile.
With history showing only one spring 3YO and two late season 2YOs winning the Missile, Rarefied might be living up to his name if he can beat some top class sprinters on Saturday.
The 2009 Missile may lack the depth of class of Saturday’s Melbourne sprint equivalent, the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (WFA, 1200m), run at Caulfield, but the dozen nominations include an interesting mix of spring contenders.
The class sprinter Typhoon Zed (ch g 2003, Zeditave-Royal Diploma (USA), by Honor Grades (USA)) is following a similar trail towards the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (WFA, 1200m) in September – the race he won last year after finishing second behind Captain Bax in the Missile Stakes.
Whereas in 2008 trainer Tim Martin used the Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton, in which Typhoon Zed finished third, to kick off his Manikato campaign, this year Martin took the chestnut there for the Sir James Kirby Handicap (1000m) – the gelding, under 61kg, came in fifth behind Borsha’s Mark on July 16.
After the Missile, Martin is expected to run Typhoon Zed in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (WFA, 1100m) at Rosehill on August 29, a race he won last year, before heading to Melbourne for the Manikato Stakes on Friday night, September 25. Tye Angland has been booked to ride Typhoon Zed.
The interesting runner in this year’s Missile is the promising John O’Shea-trained mare Olonana (br f 2005, More Than Ready (USA)-Arkadina, by Myocard (NZ)). The lightly-raced mare has won three of her six starts and O’Shea rates her very highly. “She’s a beauty, a real short-course horse who possesses such brilliant,” he said after the Challenge Stakes.
Olonana resumed in the autumn with an exceptional win from near last in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (WFA, 1000m) at Randwick, on a good surface, before failing badly to finish ninth in the mud behind Nicconi in the Group 1 The Galaxy (WFA, 1200m) at Randwick on April 11. O’Shea spelled her after that failure.
O’Shea believes Olonana is best kept fresh – the mare is unbeaten in three first-up starts – and she goes into the Missile following a soft fourth in a Warwick Farm 800m trial on July 10. Regular rider Tim Clarke has the mount.
The Missile Stakes (WFA 1100m), Rosehill
Last 10 Years:
First run: 1978 (won by Idol). Group 3 from 1980. Run at Canterbury 1978, 1980 & 1983. Not held 1981.
Last mare to win: Pompeii (2003).
Last 2YO to win: C&G – Commands (1999); Filly – None. Note: Race run on the last weekend of July or early August (new season).
Last 3YO to win: C&G – Dance Hero (2005); Filly – Klokka (1993).
Multiple Winners: 3 – Klokka (1993-94); Joanne (1991-92); Campaign King (1987-88).
Fastest Time (1100m): Guineas (1997) 1:02.68
Notable Winners: Dance Hero (2005); Spark Of Life (2004); Lonhro (2002); Padstow (2000); Guineas (1997); Potrero (1990); Select Prince (1989); Campaign King (1987-88); Shankhill Lass (1986); Row Of Waves (1985); Razor Sharp (1982) – all winners at Group 1 level. Note: Salaam (1979) also won The Galaxy before it was classified as a Group 1.
Missile Stakes & Premiere Stakes: 6 – German Chocolate (2007); Spark Of Life (2004); Legal Agent (1996); Klokka (1993); Joanne (1991-92); Campaign King (1987).
The Galaxy & Missile Stakes: 3 – Spark Of Life (2004); Potrero (1990); Salaam (1979).
Missile Stakes & Chelmsford Stakes: 3 – Lonhro (2002); Campaign King (1987); Shankhill Lass (1986).
Golden Slipper Stakes & Missile Stakes: 1 – Guineas (1997). Note: Dance Hero (2005) won the Golden Slipper in 2004.
Missile Stakes & Salinger Stakes: 1 – Brawny Spirit (1995). Note: Dance Hero (2005) won the Salinger Stakes in 2006.
Missile Stakes & Concorde Stakes: 1 – Joanne (1991). Note: Guineas (1997) won the Concorde Stakes in 1999.
Leading jockeys: Darren Beadman, 3 wins (Lonhro 2002; Legal Agent 1996; Brawny Spirit 1995); John Marshall, 3 wins (Campaign King 1987-88; Shankhill Lass 1986).
Leading trainer (since 1982): John Hawkes, 3 wins (Lonhro 2002; Commands 1999; Guineas 1997).
Point of interest: Commands (1999) finished second past the post behind Padstow but won the race on protest. Padstow (2000) won the race the next year.
Sir Michael Stoute could easily be dreaming that he is in heaven. Not only is this self-confessed cricket addict in the midst of an Ashes series in England, but the fruits of his job – horse trainer – are pickings at the highest level.
On Saturday, Stoute wasn’t satisfied with training the winner of the Group 1 King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2400m, at Ascot) with the impressive Conduit (ch h 2004, Dalakhani (IRE)-Well Head (IRE), by Sadler’s Wells (USA)), the big man with the big personality also trained the trifecta when Tartan Bearer (ch h 2005, Spectrum (IRE)-Highland Gift (IRE), by Generous (IRE)) and Ask (b h 2003, Sadler’s Wells (USA)-Request, by Rainbow Quest (USA)) tracked home the favourite.
The Barbados-born Stoute is such a cricket fan that he has installed a pitch at his Freemason Lodge stables in Newmarket, where he can often be seen in the afternoons swinging the willow or tweaking a leg-break.
You get the impression that if there was a choice between saddling a runner in the Breeders’ Cup in North America and captaining the Newmarket Trainers’ X1 in a social match, Stoute would pack his creams before his binoculars.
Not that Stoute, who came to England in 1965 at the age of 19 to try his luck with horses, is barracking for England to beat Australia during the Ashes – Stoute’s heart, when it comes to bat and ball, lies firmly with his homeland, the West Indies. Interestingly, Stoute was knighted for his services to tourism in Barbados, and not for his wonderful record as a trainer.
Conduit gave Stoute his fourth win in the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He first won it in 1981 with the great but tragic champion Shergar, who had also won the 1981 Group 1 Epsom Derby by a record 10 lengths, and was infamously kidnapped by the IRA in 1983, never to be seen again.
Conduit was a special horse for Stoute before he won at Ascot. Last September he gave Stoute his first Group 1 English St Leger (2700m) win at Doncaster – completing Stoute’s career ambition to win all the English and Irish Classics.
Stoute now has his eyes on the elusive Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m, Longchamp) in October. The famous French race, apart from the Melbourne Cup, is the only line missing from Stoute’s impressive CV.
His quest is aided by the fact that Conduit is owned by his breeder, Ballymacoll Stud, of County Meath, in Ireland. Ballymacoll Stud, run by the estate of the late Lord Weinstock, who died in 2002, aged 77, has now produced 50 Group 1 winners since the Weinstocks bought the farm in 1960. However, Lord Weinstock died without achieving his ambition to win the Arc.
In an unusual twist, Conduit’s win was a revenge of sorts over Tartan Bearer, who is also bred and owned by Ballymacoll. Conduit was orphaned when his mother, Well Head, died shortly after giving birth. The colt was raised by hand. When he was put in with the yearling colts at Ballymacoll, he was so viciously bullied by another colt that Conduit had to be moved for his own safety. That bully was Tartan Bearer.
Only those from Ballymacoll, who knew the story, were smiling at the way Conduit moved off his line and leaned on the challenging Tartan Bearer in the run to the line at Ascot, as if to say – “not this time”.
Footnote: Sir Michael Stoute has been to Australia three times in a quest to win the Melbourne Cup – withDistinction (2005, 7th behind Makybe Diva, and 2004, 6th behind Makybe Diva) and Daliapour (2002, 16th behind Media Puzzle).
WE SAW IT
First starter Speeding To Win’s second at $4.40 to the $3 favourite Winter King at Randwick caught our eye, and the stewards’ – they hauled in jockey Hugh Bowman to answer a charge of failing to ride out the two-year-old, who was beaten a short neck. They accepted Bowman’s explanation that he had no time to resume riding after, according to their report, “his mount had given the indication that it was commencing to shift out and that he had reacted by stopping riding, placing pressure on the offside rein, turning his horse’s head in and in so doing losing his balance in the saddle”.
Speeding To Win (Gr c 2, Redoute’s Choice-Gone On Sheila (USA), by Gone West (USA)) is trained by John O’Shea and is raced by Trevor Stuckey and Penny Yan, who have had a great run with the trainer with Racing To Win and Reigning To Win. This one is ready to win next time.
Dan Nikolic is back in town. Ulysses ($15 to $12) won at Moonee Valley on Saturday because of a perfectly rated front-running ride that indicated ‘Dan the (travellin’) Man’ can re-establish himself with Melbourne punters after stints in Sydney and, briefly, in Mauritius.
Jason Maskiell is, simply, in town. The top juniors were missing, but Tasmanian Maskiell, now with Mick Price at Caulfield, showed he made the right move when he won the Travis Harrison Apprentices Cup on Running Riot at the Valley.
Ma Ma Machine’s win in the Listed $75,000 Beaufine Stakes (1000 metres) at Belmont put the explosive sprinter in the spotlight with trainer Adam Durrant and apprentice jockey Alan Kennedy – the win was the standout of their treble. Ma Ma Machine (Br g 4, Sir Laurence (NZ )-Mam’selle Gina (by Naturalism (NZ)) has won his past four. Each of his six wins has been at Belmont, where he holds the track record over the 1000-metre trip. Interestingly, before his win at Belmont on May 9, he had only one win from 13; he is now six from 19.
THEY SAID IT
“I’m happy to say that he’s every bit as good as I thought he was,” said trainer Fran Houlahan after Pentiffic (Br g 5, Pentire (GB)-Sailing High (NZ), by Yachtie)) won the Hiskens Steeplechase at Moonee Valley on Saturday. ” He’s a genuine, tough stayer and a great jumper so we’re very excited at the prospect of getting an invitation to Japan (for the Grand Jump next year).” That was the good news for the jumps racing fraternity.
The bad was the death from a fall in the race of Geeorb (B g 8,Encosta De Lago-Our Saratoga (NZ), by Sky Chase (NZ)), opening up racing’s still-raw wounds from the Warrnambool carnival, where deaths had seen jumps racing temporarily halted. The ‘for’ and ‘against’ clashed physically and verbally at the Valley.
Animal welfare spokesman Elio Celotto said on the ABC: “With the highest death rate since 1994, and a fall rate more than twice of previous years, what further proof does (Racing Victoria) need to stop jumps racing? Perhaps they’re waiting for a jockey to die.”
The next instalment in the debate will come on Wednesday when racing’s jumps review panel will meet to discuss Saturday’s events.
WE’LL WATCH IT
The midweekers get a mention for the premiership races, but the big watch comes on Saturday: at Rosehill (the G3 Missile Stakes, 1100m; plus the Rosebud, 1200m, for pointers to the $1 million Golden Rose, the new Group 1 for three-year-olds to be run over 1400m at the same track on August 29); and at Caulfield (the G3 Bletchingly Stakes, 1200m). They also race at Belmont, Doomben and Morphettville on Saturday.
There are more late nights coming up, with England’s famous Glorious Goodwood meeting on Sky Racing this week, starting tomorrow.
What is winning the jockeys’ or trainers’ premiership worth? Actually, little more than bragging rights – it will be nice to have them, to be able to say, in Damien Oliver’s case, that he has won eight Victorian metropolitan titles or, in Craig Williams’, that he has won four on end.
And it might earn an extra invitation to ride overseas, or influence someone to offer a mount at Flemington or at one of the major interstate carnivals. But, in a sport where the dollar rules, it is not the be-all to end all.
Oliver admitted as much when he spoke at a recent night at Champions, the Australian Racing Museum at Federation Square. He said it was “great to be in the mix” to win a premiership, and winning another one would be “great to look back on”, but he had taken a break in Bali in the run home because it was more important to have a family holiday and refresh himself for the spring.
This, of course, is when the big money and the kudos that counts are available, with Group 1 races and more dollars. The 5%-plus jockeys’ share of races worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, is much more of a lure than the grab from $30,000-$70,000 in humdrum races. So is the reputation of being able to beat the best in the best.
But hand a jockey or trainer the chance of a premiership and he’ll take it in both hands. Why wouldn’t he enjoy having his ego stroked from all angles? In that sense, Sandown’s Wednesday meeting, the last for the Melbourne season, is something to write or talk about – before, during and after.
Oliver’s double in the last two races at Moonee Valley on Saturday came from driven performances on Beltrois and Commanding Hope – clearly, he wants to win another premiership and he described hearing a few ‘go Ollies’ coming up the short MV straight as a terrific buzz.
He is on 70 wins, level with Williams, who had three seconds but no cigars. Ollie will have six rides on Wednesday; Williams will have eight. “We both have some good rides, so it will be an interesting day,” Oliver said.
Four of Williams’ rides are for David Hayes, who has numbers on his side in the training race against Lee Freedman. Both have 64 wins this season, but Hayes has nine acceptors tomorrow, Freedman two.
Numbers don’t always count, as Gai Waterhouse has shown in Sydney – with 83.5 wins she has kept her nose in front of Darley’s man Peter Snowden (82 in his first full season as a trainer), who had to wait until the last on Saturday for his first winner, Testimonial, an outsider at $21. Gai didn’t have a runner.
She has accepted with three at Canterbury on Wednesday, Snowden with nine, but they are spread over only four races. The contest won’t end at Canterbury – the final meeting is at Warwick Farm on Friday. The jockeys’ crown is a ‘no contest’, with Hugh Bowman well clear on 97 wins.
If Clare Lindop is South Australian racing’s favourite female, sprinting filly Augusta Proud runs a close second, and her nose win in the Listed Dermody Stakes (1050m) at Morphettville on Saturday gave Chad Lever (46 wins) his first jockeys’ title by half a win – Simon Price (45.5) was second overall, although it was Ryan Plumb on Cerberus Girl who was just pipped in the Dermody by Augusta Proud (B f 3, More Than Ready (USA)-Kadasha, by Langfuhr (CAN)).
Leon Macdonald won the trainers’ title. He said Augusta Proud would run next in the either the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m, Morphettville, August or the Group 3 Cockram Stakes (1200m, Caulfield, August 15).
William Pike and Neville Parnham romped home in the Perth premiership races.
Belleluia has returned to pre training at Eliza Park at Kerrie. She will do slow work for four weeks before returning to my stables at Cranbourne to continue. I am looking forward to seeing her in her faster paces later in the preparation. I will keep you updated as she progresses.