Kavanagh Sticks With Shocking Plan

Running at Flemington on AAMI Victoria Derby day proved the springboard to Emirates Melbourne Cup success for Shocking last year and Mark Kavanagh is sticking with the winning formula this year.

The star five-year-old will round out his preparation for Tuesday’s $6 million event, in which he has backed into $4.50 favourite, in Saturday’s $1 million Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).

It’s a slight deviation from last year, when Shocking contested the Lexus Stakes (2500m), but is the schedule that best suits the unlucky last-start Caulfield Cup fourth placegetter according to Kavanagh.

“He butters up well, history shows that, but at the end of the day we treat each horse and their condition on where they are at the time,” the Flemington trainer said.

“He didn’t have any sort of a gut-buster in the Caulfield Cup and he is a stallion, he does pretty well, and I just think that Saturday’s race will tune him up perfectly for Tuesday.”

But despite Shocking’s almost impeccable Flemington record – five starts for four wins and a narrow second in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes – Kavanagh isn’t confident about the Mackinnon.

The presence of champion four-year-old So You Think, winner of last week’s Cox Plate in which the Kavanagh-trained Whobegotyou finished third, is the reason for that.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re going to have to chase So You Think again,” he said. “He’s the weight-for-age champion and my horses here are just sick of looking at his rump and his tail.

“We’re in it (the Mackinnon) to win but I couldn’t see, with all due to respect to him, Shocking turning the tables on him.”

Shocking and So You Think aren’t the only Melbourne Cup hopes engaged in a stellar Mackinnon with Caulfield Cup winner Descarado, Cox Plate fourth placegetter Shoot Out and Doomben Cup winner Metal Bender also engaged.

While Kavanagh can’t escape So You Think, one of his other Derby day runners should appreciate getting away from another star of Australian racing.

Classy sprinter Catapulted has finished second to Hay List at his only two runs this campaign but will relish the absence of the superstar former West Australian in the $300,000 Group 2 Seppelt Salinger Stakes (1200m).

Catapulted has drawn barrier 11 in the 14-horse event, which includes dual Stradbroke winner Black Piranha (12), explosive sprinter All Silent (four), defending champion Eagle Falls (one), Sydney star Shellscrape (three) and star mare Set For Fame (five).

Like Shocking, Catapulted will be ridden by Kavanagh stable jockey Michael Rodd.

Fill fields for AAMI Victoria Derby day can be accessed by clicking on the link

Darley Dream To Retrieve Derby

Peter Snowden is looking at it as a privilege rather than a burden that the man who employs him, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is likely to be trackside for AAMI Victoria Derby day this Saturday at Flemington.

Instead of feeling extra pressure having the Dubai ruler in town for one of the biggest day’s on the Australian racing calendar, Snowden is looking forward to having the racing fanatic trackside to cheer on his big team.

“No not at all,” Snowden said when asked if the Sheikh’s presence added pressure. “I’m just glad he’s going to be here.

“My job is the same as every day; just to get the best out of them, present them as good as I can and hope for the best.”

Snowden expects Sheikh Mohammed to get a thrill out of the day’s main event, the $1.5 million AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m), in which he has two runners – second favourite Retrieve and the underrated Yulalona.

Snowden agreed that Rahy youngster Retrieve deserved top billing, but warned punters not to forget Dubai Destination colt Yulalona, whose only unplaced effort in six outings was a last-start fourth behind his stablemate in the Norman Robinson Stakes.

“He’s had a bit of racing, but he’s put on weight, to me he’s blossomed, which is a good sign because if he was showing signs of training off he would have lightened off and been dull in his work, but he’s been the opposite,” he said of Retrieve.

“And I think he’s grossly underrated, Yulalona. He’s a dour staying type and the few runs that he has had I’ve been happy with.

“He’s been competitive, at Caulfield on a track that he didn’t like I thought he ran really well, and I think he’ll run the trip right out. I think he’s in the race right up to his ears.”

Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes runner-up Retrieve, to be ridden for the first time by Kerrin McEvoy, has drawn perfectly in barrier two with Yulalona allocated gate 17, with Mark Zahra to take the ride.

Snowden’s other Derby day Group 1 runners are Soul in the $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes for three-year-olds and Kidnapped in the $1 million Longines Mackinnon Stakes.

As impressed as Snowden was with Kidnapped’s barnstorming fifth in the Toorak Handicap, he doesn’t fancy his chances of toppling Tatts Cox Plate hero So You Think in the 2000m Mackinnon.

But he is much more buoyant regarding Soul’s chances in the Coolmore (1200m) following his third to Set For Fame and Dubleanny in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield on October 16.

“I was happy with him, they were two pretty fair horses that he ran against the other day,” he said. “A bit of a freshen-up has done him good and he’s come on since his last start, so I’m quietly confident he’ll run well Saturday.

“He’s had two runs down the straight and won both of them, so that’s got to be a plus for Saturday. Straight-course racing seems to be a specialist thing and hopefully my bloke’s got that edge on the rest of them.”

Snowden’s other Derby day runners are Skilled in the $250,000 Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes, Purple in the $250,000 Group 3 The Lexus (2500m), Divorces in the $300,000 Group 2 Wakeful Stakes, Beaded in the $300,000 Group 2 Seppelt Salinger Stakes and Demerit in the $250,000 Group 3 AAMI Business Insurance Stakes (1400m).

Full fields for Saturday’s Flemington card are available via the link.

Herculian Effort Needed In Lexus

Herculian Prince epitomises just how tough it is to get a start in this year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup.

The Gai Waterhouse-trained Kiwi import won Sydney’s premier spring staying test, the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) on October 2, yet still isn’t guaranteed a start in the big two-miler at Flemington next Tuesday.

As a result, Waterhouse has been forced to start the son of Yamanin Vital in Saturday’s $250,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m), which carries a Melbourne Cup ballot exemption.

Waterhouse reported that the five-year-old simply didn’t handle the heavy track behind stablemate Descarado in the Caulfield Cup and predicted getting to Flemington, where Waterhouse’s Melbourne stables are based, would assist.

“Herculian Prince was just out of his comfort zone, as a lot of other horses were at Caulfield, but back on his own home track I think he’ll be right back in his element,” she said.

“If he can go back to what we saw when he won the Neville Sellwood and when he won the Metropolitan, he’ll be a real force in whatever he runs in.”

Currently 28th in order of entry for the Melbourne Cup, Herculian Prince will be relying on unexpected attrition to a gain a start in the final of 24 if he doesn’t win on Saturday.

But he’s not alone. The Peter Snowden-trained Purple is the only one of the 14 Lexus runners not in the Melbourne Cup with Once Were Wild (16) and Jessicabeel (23) the only ones guaranteed a start.

Red Ruler (25), Mourayan (27), Alcopop (29), Linton (30), Moudre (38), Maluckyday (40), Cedarberg (41), Count Encosta (44), Stanstill (45) and Gothic Crown (47) are the others who need to win to book a Cup start.

Top Sydney jockey Glyn Schofield has the job aboard Herculian Prince in the Lexus and they will jump from barrier eight. The Lexus is race two on Saturday’s bumper card, to be run at 11.50am.

So You Think Secures Legendary Status

The Tatts Cox Plate is promoted as “the race where legends are made” and the 2010 edition certainly lived up to its billing at Moonee Valley on Saturday.

So You Think secured his place as an immortal of the Australian turf when he scored a history-making win in the $3 million weight-for-age championship.
In joining the likes of Phar Lap, Tobin Bronze, Kingston Town, Sunline and Northerly as multiple winners of the 2040m event, the Bart Cummings-trained superstar became the first three-year-old winner to come back and win at four.

And he did it at just his 10th trip to the races. He now has seven wins and $4,631,850 to his credit.

Cummings, who has now won the Cox Plate five times following earlier wins with Taj Rossi, Saintly and Dane Ripper, doesn’t like comparing his horses, but even he finally publically conceded that the son of High Chaparral is up with the best he has trained.

“It’s hard to compare them, they’ve all been champions really and there have been some very good ones, but I’d say this horse is up with the best at this stage,” he said.

The striking entire justified his rating as the shortest-priced Cox Plate favourite since Tobin Bronze in 1967 when he saluted at $1.50.

In doing so, he became the first four-year-old to win the Cox Plate since another Cummings-trained, Dato Tan Chin Nam-owned superstar, Saintly, in 1996.

Jockey Steven Arnold couldn’t believe his luck when he lobbed in second spot behind surprise leader More Joyous heading out of the straight the first time and it wasn’t until Zipping peeled out to start a run at the 700m that Arnold felt the need to apply pressure to the Sydney mare.
Once he pressed the button the race was as good as over. So You Think had More Joyous’s measure by the 500m and broke his rivals’ hearts with a dazzling sprint that had him leading by more than two lengths at the 200m.

Zipping and Whobegotyou made good ground in the straight, but a length and a quarter was as close as they got. Zipping ($17) registered his third successive Cox Plate placing when he finished second, a long head in advance of Whobegotyou ($15).

Sentimental favourite Shoot Out ($13) finished resolutely for fourth. More Joyous’s eight-race winning streak ended when the $7.50 second elect had to settle for fifth, just in advance of $151 shot Avienus.

Arnold said the race played right into his hands and he knew he was going to win his first “major” a long way from home.

“I had a fairly soft time early and I waited for them to tackle a little bit earlier but nothing had a go,” he said.

“I saw she (More Joyous) was having a fairly easy trip so when we got down the side 600 metres out I thought ‘I’m going to turn on the gas now’.

“It’s a race where the strongest horse wins and he was that today. It’s a bit of a relief but a huge thrill as well.”

The win qualified So You Think for Tuesday week’s Emirates Melbourne Cup, for which is now the $3.20 favourite with TAB Sportsbet.

View the results of the Tatts Cox Plate

Caviar Coasts Home In Schweppes

Black Caviar emphatically confirmed her status as Australia’s best sprinting mare with a stunning win in Saturday’s $300,000 Group 2 Schweppes Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.

Peter Moody’s supermare maintained her unbeaten record when she saw off the challenge of Sydney stars Hot Danish and Melito to log easily the most impressive of her seven career wins.

Like the big crowd that cheered her home, Moody is running out of superlatives for the daughter of Bel Esprit.

“You run out of things to say, don’t you? She just seems to do it so effortlessly,” he said.

“The scary thing is she’s never been pressured. Does she find under pressure? Hopefully we never have to find out. It’s just scintillating what she does.”

Such was the ease of the four-year-old’s win that the crowd was able to applaud her home as she coasted in by five-and-a-half lengths.

While she wasn’t the best to begin, she quickly mustered speed and was soon outside longshot True Persuasion, who speared over from the outside gate to find the early lead.

The robust mare, heavily backed from $1.50 to start $1.40, put him to the sword around 400m and extended her lead the further they went up the short Moonee Valley straight.

Sydney star Hot Danish ($6) ran home well to grab second, albeit no match for the winner, while True Persuasion ($31) fought on well to hold out Eagle Falls ($16) for the minor placing.

Ominously, Nolen said Black Caviar gave him the feeling there was improvement to come.

“It is a little bit scary, I don’t think we’ve found the bottom of her yet,” he declared.

Black Caviar will get the chance to log the first Group 1 win of her career in the $750,000 Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington on November 6, where hulking sprinter Hay List will be waiting for her.

Moody isn’t exactly looking forward to meeting the big gelding, a winner of 12 of his 14 starts, but he isn’t running from what shapes as the race of the spring.

“He’s an outstanding horse, so no (we’re not looking forward to it), but what do you do? We’re undefeated and we’ve got to keep going forward.”

Click here for the Schweppes Stakes results