The first Saturday in October most years provides the best weekend’s racing across Australia.
While Derby Day and Golden Slipper Day are the pinnacle meetings in terms of quality each year, the first Saturday in October sees top class meetings in Sydney and Melbourne, a rarity throughout the entire year.
In fact, there are only a handful of days which see Group 1 racing in both Sydney and Melbourne, but it is Epsom Handicap Day – Sydney’s Super Saturday – and Turnbull Stakes Day which provides the most depth.
Not only does it provide answers and pose questions for the remainder of the spring carnival, it provides the perfect springboard into the features.
Just Horse Racing’s Andrew Hawkins lists his five performances of the weekend looking towards the future:
Of all the two year old first starters on Saturday – across Sydney and Melbourne – none caught the eye more than this boy. He may have finished second to Darley’s Kuroshio, but this is a horse that must go in the blackbook straight away. I don’t know what his final sectionals were, but I have never seen a two year old first starter finish as quick as he did. He seemed to switch off early, and Craig Williams was riding him along. But when he knuckled down about 400m from home, he absolutely flew. His last 600m sectional was 32.67, blistering for a two year old first starter. From what I’ve heard from the Gai Waterhouse stable, he was sent to Melbourne as he couldn’t match the colts that ran the quinella in the Breeders Plate, Whittington and War. But I think the one I’ll be following is Rockford. Hopefully he doesn’t become a money muncher with his style of racing!
It’s taken him a while to find the form which saw him run second in the 2010 Melbourne Cup to Americain, but I think he’s somewhere close to finding it now. His run in The Bart Cummings was very good, in which he came from last, suffered (in my opinion) a poor ride and still flashed home to finish second. The jockey seemed in two minds on him, whether to stick to the inside or whether to pull him wide. This, ultimately, cost him the race. Looking to the Melbourne Cup, he’ll meet Tanby 3.5kg better at the weights, and looks to still have improvement in him. He hasn’t passed the Caulfield Cup first ballot, so he may have to go to the Geelong Cup or the Moonee Valley Cup for his final prep run. Nevertheless, he looks a good chance of being the local who will attempt to repel the international force.
DARE TO DREAM
Even Bart Cummings has got in on the import action, and this horse is shaping up as Bart’s best chance of winning a 13th Melbourne Cup. I had a wrap on this boy before his first start, having seen his runs in the United Kingdom (where he raced as Dare To Dream). He won three of four in England before he came to Australia. He was heavily backed first up in the Bill Ritchie Handicap, when as much as $31 was bet midweek before he started $6.50. He ran a fair sixth. The improvement into Saturday was unreal. He looked much better in the yard, and ran accordingly, flashing home to finish third in the Craven Plate. He’ll head to the City Tatts Cup at Randwick on Saturday week in an attempt to book a spot in the Melbourne Cup. Expect him to keep improving.
IT’S A DUNDEEL/PROISIR
I couldn’t split these horses. Both were so dominant, both so good, and I believe both will be a feature of Group 1 racing over the coming seasons. The incredible thing is, both are so different. Proisir looks like he will make an extraordinary miler, while It’s A Dundeel is bred to be a top class stayer. Proisir looks to be heading to the Cox Plate, while It’s A Dundeel will head to the Victoria Derby. Proisir was in trouble straight after the start on Saturday, and once he ended up only a length in front of It’s A Dundeel, all plans went out the window. In the end, he was almost too good anyway, but It’s A Dundeel showed a nice little turn of foot late to overpower Proisir.
If you didn’t see this horse win in New Zealand on Saturday, catch the replay. I’ll even give you the Youtube link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BBG21WoUxM). This horse knuckled badly at the start, but somehow recovered and won with plenty in hand. The son of O’Reilly has won all four starts to date, and while he still has a long way to go, he could be one of the more promising types to emerge out of New Zealand in recent years. The race he won – the Hawke’s Bay Guineas – has been won by the likes of Darci Brahma, Jokers Wild, Alamosa and Jimmy Choux in the last 10 years, and there are suggestions he may be as good as (if not better than) those horses. We’ll see him in Australia in the autumn.