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The 2012 racing year…well it was different, that’s for sure. Wonderful thoroughbred action one moment, controversy galore the next. There were highlights, both on our shores and abroad, but for many, the dramas during the Spring Carnival will best describe the year. But we’ll try and change that here with a look back at the racing year of 2012.

The major 2012 features actually started on New Years Eve 2011 at Ascot with the running of the Perth Cup (2400m). Grant Willliams continued his stunning form when he trained the talented mare Western Jewel to success in the Group ll race. It also provided gun apprentice Kyra Yuill with her biggest win in the saddle.

The focus shifted to the Gold Coast for the Magic Millions Raceday. Punch On flashed home from well back to claim the Magic Millions Guineas (1400m) for Paul Hammersley and Peter Balzen, but the drama that came prior to this race was quite incredible.

It was the Magic Millions Classic (1200m) for the juveniles. Punters settled on three runners: Amorino, Sizzling and Driefontein. The third horse of this trio, trained by Gai Waterhouse, showed dazzling early speed to lead comfortably. Amorino was one out, one back and poised. But as they hit the home turn and straightened, Driefontein hung badly, along with several others. This left a beautiful inside run for No Looking Back, the stablemate of Driefontein. Nash Rawiller, riding No Looking Back, asked his charge to go and it hit the lead. But under pressure, the horse shifted out, causing Tommy Berry to not ride out Driefontein. They continued to bump and in the end No Looking Back won the race as they crossed the line. But Berry fired in a protest and it was successful. Today, there is still argument on whether or not he should have got the protest.

Less than two weeks later, racegoers around Australia got to see their horse, Black Caviar rack up another win when she strolled around Moonee Valley and won the Australia Stakes (1200m). Sure, she beat nothing, but it was just wonderful to see the mare return and return a winner in grand style.

Then, at her first go beyond 1200m, she showed her world class with a dominant win in the C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m). Then seven days later, stepping back 400m in distance, she toughed it out to beat a flying Hay List in the Lightning Stakes (1000m). That win is regarded by many has her best.

The spotlight then turned to Caulfield where it was Blue Diamond Stakes Day. In the feature race, all the support was for the local filly Samaready…and she didn’t disappoint. Ridden quite arrogantly by Craig Newitt, the daughter of More Than Ready blitzted her rivals. The other two majors that afternoon were the Oakleigh Plate and Futurity Stakes. The Oakleigh Plate saw one of the craziest finishes ever to a major. 100m out, Sepoy looked the winner. 50m out, Facile Tigre was the winner. 10m out, Elite Falls was the winner…then right on the line, Queensland sprinter Woorim, who was last at the 300m, sprouted wings and nailed them right on the line to win, providing top Brisbane trainer Rob Heathcoate with his first Group l. In the Futurity, it was built up as a two horse race between the Cox Plater champ Pinker Pinker and the kiwi warrior King Mufhasa. In the end, thanks to a soft lead, the latter proved too strong on the line, winning his second Group l on Australian soil.

It was now off to Flemington for their Autumn Carnival, starting off with the Australian Guineas (1600m). The race had so much intrigue. It brought together the Oaks and Derby winners, Mosheen and Sangster. It was also set to be Helmet’s swansong before jetting off overseas. He started a warm favourite. But it was Mosheen, aided by a gem of a ride from Dan Nikolic, who triumphed from Strike The Stars and Mister Milton.

Seven days later and it was Super Saturday at Flemington with the running of the Australian Cup (2000m) and the Newmarket Handicap (1200m). The Australian Cup saw a thrilling finish, with Manighar, Southern Speed and Americain crossing the line together…but Manighar stuck his nose out where it mattered and recorded his first major in Australia. In the Newmarket, Hay List, carrying 58.5kg, showed great courage to find the line, just clear of Buffering, who was (and still is) the bridesmaid when it comes to feature sprint races.

On the same afternoon, Sydney hosted its first major of the year with the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m). And yet again, Chris Waller dominated with Shoot Out, ridden to perfection by Hugh Bowman, beating Danleigh and Trusting with Rangirangdoo back in fourth.

Randwick Guineas Day came around and the weather was horrendous for racing. But that didn’t stop the main event from being a beauty. And again, Mosheen, again thanks to a Nikolic special, got up in the last stride to beat Said Com with Laser Hawk in third.

Hay List was expected to win the William Reid Stakes (1200m), but given how strong, big and athletic he is, he will be forever injury plagued and he suffered an injury during the race, which was why he got beat by promising three year old Foxwedge. He was to be set for a campaign in England but injury forced his premature retirement.

Less than 24 hours later, Kathy O’Hara booted home her first Group l when Ofcourseican showed grit to fend off the challenges of Secret Admirer and Kings Rose to take out the Coolmore Classic (1500m). Yosei was desperately unlucky in finishing fourth. 40 minutes prior, Manighar continued his white hot form with a narrow but impressive win over Rangirangdoo in the Ranvet Stakes (2000m). Shoot Out was not far away in third.

The Rosehill Guineas (2000m), in hindsight now, has proven to be the best form race of 2012. Boom kiwi filly Silent Achiever, fresh after winning the New Zealand Derby, was the favourite. But Gai and Nash were to start an amazing Group l Autumn thanks to Laser Hawk, who was having just his fifth career start. Ocean Park, who at the time was relatively unknown to Australians, was a desperately unlucky second with Silent Achiever in third.

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