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Young guns promise something special


Nov. 10, 2019

For the first time in years there was no dominant champion competing during the Sydney and Melbourne spring carnivals.
The sport had been spoilt this decade having two all-time greats Black Caviar and then Winx to savour but their successor still hasn’t been determined.
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The only dual Group 1 winners so far this season are Nature Strip and Fierce Impact. What were the odds of this happening at the start of spring?
Nature Strip’s brilliant win in the VRC Sprint Classic at Flemington last Saturday complemented his Moir Stakes success earlier this spring.
The only other dual weight-for-age winner this season has been Samadoubt with his wins in the Winx Stakes and Chelmsford Stakes at the start of spring.
Fierce Impact, trained by Matthew Smith, emerged as an outstanding miler with his wins in the Toorak Handicap and Cantala Stakes, the first to complete the double since Magari in 1982.
Perhaps Fierce Impact could develop into a standout middle distance weight-for-age contender in autumn, or maybe it will be the exciting Kolding, winner of the Epsom Handicap and Golden Eagle.
But it seems likely the strength of the three-year-old division this season could produce racing’s next superstar.
Exciting Sydney colts Yes Yes Yes (The Everest), Bivouac (Golden Rose) and Exceedance (Coolmore Stud Stakes) are blessed with outstanding sprinting talent and their clashes in autumn will be pure box-office for race fans.
Castelvecchio’s effort to run second in the Cox Plate, plus the likes of Shadow Hero (Spring Champion Stakes), Warning (Victoria Derby) and Miami Bound (Victoria Oaks) suggests there is depth in the distance ranks among this season’s three-year-olds, too.
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The winds of change swept through the racing industry during the Sydney and Melbourne spring carnivals this year.
The introduction of the $7.5 million Golden Eagle and $1 million races like The Hunter at Newcastle this Saturday and The Gong at Kembla Grange on November 23 means Sydney’s endless spring carnival extends almost into summer.
Apart from the Bondi Stakes at Randwick on Cox Plate Day, the new races have worked particularly well, generating publicity and interest in Sydney racing while boosting racetrack attendances and betting turnover on Saturday meetings.
The four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington attracted 276,186 fans to the races, a healthy attendance for any other race club but a concern for the Victoria Racing Club as this represented the lowest total crowd numbers since 1997.
After the crowds were down for the Victoria Derby (80,124), Melbourne Cup (81,408) and Oaks (57,296), the Stakes Day attendance of 57,268 was the lowest since 2004.
This was compounded by a significant slump in free-to-air ratings and betting turnover on the Melbourne Cup, won by local stayer, Vow And Declare.
Channel 10’s coverage of the Melbourne Cup last week achieved a national viewing audience of 1.92 million viewers compared to 2.5 million when Channel 7 showed the race last year.
Tabcorp’s wagering business, TAB, held $160.7 million in betting turnover on Tuesday’s Flemington meeting including $106 million in bets on the Melbourne Cup. TAB turnover on the Melbourne Cup meeting was down 5.9% on last year. Excluding the Melbourne Cup, turnover on the meeting was down 1.5%.
There has been varying reasons suggested as the cause for the fall in attendances and betting at the Melbourne Cup Carnival including a wet, cool week in Melbourne, the pricing of general admission tickets to Flemington which reached $90.75, the influx of overseas raiders, the Sydney-Melbourne spring carnival rivalry, and the fallout from the recent ABC 7.30 report which showed graphic images of cruelty to ex-racehorses.
Then again, the more things change, the more they stay the same in racing.
The nation’s premier trainer Chris Waller was without Winx for the first time in five seasons but he still dominated the spring carnivals with six Group 1 wins plus his successes in The Everest and the Golden Eagle for stable earnings of more than $25 million — a staggering amount considering the 2019-20 season is not even four months old.
Nature Strip and Yes Yes Yes, two of Waller’s big-race winners this spring, will be set for the major sprints in autumn ahead of possible trips to England for the Royal Ascot carnival in June.
Godolphin’s James Cummings was the next most successful trainer with three Group wins and $10 million prizemoney.
Craig Williams was the leading jockey, winning four Group 1 races including the Melbourne Cup on Vow And Declare to complete the Grand Slam.
Other perennial champs Hugh Bowman, Damien Oliver, James McDonald and Glen Boss had successful springs as did emerging Melbourne rider Damian Lane.
Brilliant filly Dame Giselle is a deserving Golden Slipper favourite after her stunning win in the Golden Gift before nearly 9000 racegoers at Rosehill Gardens last Saturday.
She showed dazzling acceleration to win by nearly four lengths and is now at the top of betting at $13 for next year’s Golden Slipper.
Dame Giselle is in the right hands with trainers Peter and Paul Snowden who know how to win the Slipper having prepared Sepoy (2011) and Capitalist (2016) to take out the world’s richest juvenile race.
The Snowden stable had a memorable afternoon at Rosehill as they also prepared the quinella in the Group 2 Hot Danish Stakes with Reelem In Ruby and Moss Trip, both raced by Michael and Chris Ward’s Triple Crown Syndications.
Irish mare Magic Wand’s win in the Mackinnon Stakes last Saturday came after she backed up from an unplaced run in the Melbourne Cup four days earlier.
It was a remarkable training effort by Aidan O’Brien and continued the international domination of the major staying races in Melbourne this spring.
The overseas raiders won the Caulfield Cup (Mer De Glace, Japan), Geelong Cup (Prince Of Arran, England), Cox Plate (Le Gracieux, Japan), Moonee Valley Cup (Hunting Horn, Ireland) and Lexus Hotham Stakes (Downdraft, Ireland). Locally bred stayer Vow And Declare defied the trend when he held back a wave of overseas stayers to win the Melbourne Cup.
Magic Wand gave her sire, Galileo, a record-equalling 84th individual Group 1 winner.
Galileo, who stands at Coolmore Stud in Ireland, joins Danehill as the most prolific sire of big-race winners in world racing.
Hartnell, the enduring star of the Godolphin stable, was retired after his game third in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes.
The nine-year-old gelding contested 58 races, winning 13 including four at Group 1 level, amassing career prizemoney of $7,469,499 to rank him 10th on Australia’s all-time list of prizemoney earners behind his old nemesis Winx on $26.4 million.
Dame Giselle showed significant improvement from her first start to race away winning the $1m Golden Gift running faster time than the older horses on the day. Her performance and the ride were faultless.
See You Soon had to be negatively from her draw in the same race and things appeared to be going perfectly until she hit a snag in the straight when finishing second in the Golden Gift. She should have got a lot closer to the winner.
Sticking with the theory that the Golden Gift form will hold up I feel the performances from debut runners Blaze A Trail and Cellsabeel were enormous. Blaze A Trail looks all quality and will return a good horse in the early Autumn as will Cellsabeel who oozes class.
Jason Collett was his cool calm and collected self steering home a winning treble having a great day out doing pretty well everything right.
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