Visitor claims the spoils in the Australia Stakes

Injury plagued Sydney galloper Whitefriars continued his love affair with Melbourne landing his second Group 2 of the season at Moonee Valley on Friday night.

The Rick Worthington-trained five-year-old added the $200,000 Essendon Mazda Australia Stakes (1200m) to the Salinger Stakes (1200m) he claimed at Flemington last November.

The victory came courtesy of an aggressive ride from grand veteran Jim Cassidy who surged forward from barrier seven and sat parked outside the emerging Undeniably on a hot tempo.

With reigning Australian Horse of the Year Typhoon Tracy stalking the leaders at her resumption from a spell, Michael Rodd attempted to take advantage of his fitness edge on the leader.

Undeniably ($9) pinched a break upon turning for him, but Whitefriars ($9) dug deep to wear him down by a short head with Typhoon Tracy ($1.60) a length from the winner in third.

The winning time was a slick 1:09.66 which was less than half-a-second outside Miss Andretti’s course record. It was Whitefriars’ sixth win from just 20 starts and took his earnings past $600,000.

“That was a great ride,” declared Worthington. “We had a plan and tonight it worked…all credit to the horse.”

Cassidy said the plan was to be positive and ensure that his rivals had to chase hard.

“The plan was to be aggressive, go forward and be first one or two. If I had to lead and dictate so be it, but Roddy (Undeniably) was keen to lead and he wanted to put the pressure on 600, 700 (metres) out,” he explained.

“To ask him to do what he did tonight showed that he’s gone up a notch because I’ve been riding him the other way, quiet and finishing off. I asked him to do it at both ends tonight and he’s done it, so it’s good.”

Worthington said the horse had continued to improve and would be given a shot at Group 1 glory in the $400,000 Sportingbet Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on 12 February.

“He deserves a crack at it,” he said. “We thought the horse had improved this prep, but we needed to see it. He stepped up tonight, I hope he pulls up well and we can go from there.”

Longer term Cassidy is eyeing off a Group 1 mile during the Sydney Autumn Carnival.

“I’m trying to talk him (Worthington) into going to the Doncaster,” he said. “I think he’s a real Doncaster horse. He’s improved and he’s getting better with every run.”

Of the beaten brigade, Michael Rodd was delighted with the performance of Undeniably and said he believes the horse will only get better when he extends to a mile and is ridden quietly.

Luke Nolen was far from disappointed with the run of Typhoon Tracy saying that the glamour mare wasn’t sharp enough for the tempo of the race and would be much better suited at 1400 metres.

Click to view the full result for the Essendon Mazda Australia Stakes.

Filly flies the flag for Moody in Diamond Previews

The disappointment of Golden Archer’s defeat in the opening Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Preview was quickly erased for trainer Peter Moody at Caulfield on Australia Day thanks to stablemate One Last Dance.

The highly rated daughter of Encosta De Lago scored a narrow, but fighting victory over Sydney visitor Anevay ($6) in the $100,000 Blue Diamond Fillies Preview (1000m).

One Last Dance ($2.40), who raced greenly over the concluding stages, only prevailed by a short-half head, but winning jockey Luke Nolen said not all went according to plan and her tank was far from empty.

“The win was narrow, but it was soft I think,” the premier hoop said.

“She had a tendency to get in. She sweated up a little bit before the start and I had almost no grip on the reins so I just coaxed her the last bit,” he explained.

“I’ve got a lot of time for her….she’s quite brilliant at home and that win will only bring her on.”

Moody said One Last Dance would definitely back up in the Blue Diamond Fillies Prelude (1100m) on 12 February at Caulfield, but a tilt at a $1m bonus on offer for a clean sweep of the Blue Diamond series was not the lure.

“She’ll need the experience,” he declared. “Fitness isn’t an issue, but she’ll be better for the experience so she’ll be here (for the Prelude) and hopefully continue on her way.”

Third across the line was Graskop ($6.50), a stablemate of Colts & Geldings Preview winner Sepoy, who reeled off the best closing sectionals of the field to get within two lengths of the winner.

Whilst One Last Dance and Golden Archer remain Moody’s leading Blue Diamond contenders, the 2009 winner will bolster his assault over the next fortnight when several unraced entrants debut.

One down, two to go as Sepoy targets $1m bonus

Punters were banking on a colt maintaining its unbeaten record in the opening Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Preview (1000m) at Caulfield on Australia Day, but it wasn’t highly touted duo Golden Archer and Bossdon City who emerged unscathed.

Sporting the Australia Day colours, Sepoy ($8) made it from two wins from as many appearances with a runaway 3.5 length victory in the Listed $100,000 feature.

The performance not only saw the Peter Snowden-trained colt rocket to the top of betting charts for the Blue Diamond Stakes on 26 February, but move into the hot seat for a tilt at a $1m bonus.

The newly introduced bonus is on offer for any horse that can make a clean sweep of the Blue Diamond series by winning a Preview, a Prelude (12 February) and ultimately the $1m Blue Diamond Stakes.

“He shouldn’t have been $8,” declared a buoyant Snowden in the winner’s circle.

“He’s a lovely horse, got good race sense and he’s got natural ability. He was only a veteran of one run but he handles himself really well as he showed.”

With Albury visitor Bossdon City ($5) showing good speed to lead, Sepoy sat third one off the fence with odds-on favourite Golden Archer ($1.70) stalking him throughout.

Sepoy, a son of Elusive Quality, idled up outside the leader upon turning and when jockey Mark Zahra asked for the supreme effort he responded in emphatic fashion.

Second across the line was the fast finishing Grand Britannia ($18), with Golden Archer, who is likely to have blinkers fitted next start, a half-length further back in third.

Sepoy’s winning time was 57.67sec – marginally quicker than the 57.85sec time posted by One Last Dance when claiming the Fillies Preview 35 minutes later.

“When Mark gave him the squeeze at the furlong he responded really well and had that race won a long way out,” Snowden said.

“He’s got the ability to jump and put himself there and he relaxes so well.”

Sepoy will continue his pursuit of the $1m bonus in the Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Colts & Geldings Prelude (1100m) at Caulfield on 12 February – the opening meeting of the 2011 Melbourne Festival of Racing.

Caulfield stacked with young stars on Australia Day

Victorian racing fans get an early taste of the Festival of Racing this Wednesday when some of Australia’s top young horses step out at Caulfield.

A couple of Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Previews for the two-year-olds and the return of Caulfield Guineas champion Anacheeva headline the popular Australia Day meeting.

Peter Moody’s star three-year-old will make his first appearance since completing an undefeated spring in the $1 million The Age Caulfield Guineas on October 9.

The Anabaa colt will launch a campaign aimed at the $750,000 Australian Guineas on March 6 in the $100,000 Listed Zeditave Stakes over 1200 metres. His quest to take his record to five wins from seven starts will be carried out from barrier seven in the 10-horse field.

Several of those rivals also boast impressive records. Run For Levi (barrier five) will renew acquaintances with the only horse who beat him home in the Caulfield Guineas, while Hollowlea (eight) – winner of the Group 2 Stutt Stakes in September – also resumes.

Standish Handicap placegetter Éclair Mystic (four), Anacheeva’s stablemate Servant (three) and the Mark Kavanagh-trained Linked In (10) – an impressive Geelong winner on debut – are also engaged along with a couple of intriguing interstate raiders.

Perth speedster Mister Moneypenny (two) and Spirited Eagle (nine), from the Adelaide stable of Leon McDonald and Andrew Gluyas, have both won five of seven starts and will face their toughest tests.

A two-year-old preparing for his Victorian debut is boom Brett Cavanough-trained juvenile Bossdon City, who will contest the colts and geldings’ Blue Diamond Preview.

The son of Beautiful Crown announced himself a gelding of immense ability when he proved too speedy for much-hyped blueblood Godpseed at Rosehill on January 15.

Bossdon City will start from barrier six in the event that contains Maribyrnong Trial winner Sepoy (two) and unbeaten Moody-trained colt Golden Archer (seven) and spruiked debutantes in Envious and Boys On Tour.

The Clinton McDonald-trained Envious (four) has already been backed from $71 into $17 for the Blue Diamond with TAB Sportsbet, while the John Thompson-trained Boys On Tour (10) was a sizzling Randwick trial winner at his only public appearance.

There is plenty of incentive for Blue Diamond hopefuls on Wednesday with Patinack Farm this year putting up a $1 million bonus for any horse who can win a Blue Diamond Preview, Prelude – which will be run on the official opening of the Festival of the Racing, February 12 – and Group 1 Blue Diamond on February 26.

Unbeaten Fusaichi Pegasus filly Motifs is Patinack’s runner in the female Preview. She has easily won both starts in Adelaide, but faces a daunting task from the second-widest barrier (12) against a crack field.

One Last Dance (11) – another from the Moody yard – will be seen for the first time since strolling home at Moonee Valley on debut, while Listed winner Spectrolite (eight), debut city winner Jessica Rose (four) and talented Darley filly Graskop (seven) are also engaged.

The boys’ Preview is race three on the card, at 2.12pm, with the girls to follow at 2.48pm.

The other highlight on Wednesday’s card is the $100,000 Listed Sir John Dillon Stakes (1400m), which features former Mackinnon Stakes winner Scenic Shot and last-start Chester Manifold Stakes victor Dazylum.

Full fields for the Australia Day card are available by clicking on the link

QUEEN CROWNED IN MAGIC MILLIONS CLASSIC

Karuta Queen had favourite punters cheering and her connections in raptures when she scored a stunning all the way win in the $2 million BMW Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast this afternoon.

Sent out the barriers swiftly by star apprentice Tommy Berry, Karuta Queen led from the outset and then when asked to quicken in the straight she dashed clear before cruising home for the easiest of wins.

The filly is what dreams are made of. A $30,000 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale graduate – who in unbeaten in four runs and now has earnings of over $1.4 million.

Trainer Neville Layt couldn’t believe his luck – as his wife Barbara put it cheekily – “he’s an overnight success and it’s only taken 40 years.”

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Neville Layt beamed. “But it will tonight.”

“I just love that filly! I’m on the ride of my life.”

“With this little filly I haven’t aged, I’ve got younger.”

“I was so excited I almost jumped over the rail (of the grandstand). What a story hey!”

“There was a lot of money riding on it. I played my part and she’s played her,” Layt added.

“The track is meant to be slow and she’s run 1-11 – what would she run if it was fast.”

“Tommy rode her brilliant. The controlled the race and when he asked her to sprint she didn’t let him down.”

As well as being the biggest win in the training career of Neville Layt, it was the headline victory to date for Tommy Berry.

“I was confident after she got to the front and settled so well,” Berry said. “It was just great.”

“She had a bit left as well – she did it quite easy. What a thrill.”

At the post Karuta Queen had a two and three quarter length margin over the runner-up Combat Kitty – while Schiffer made it a New South Wales trifecta when she was another short head back in third place.

Karuta Queen is raced by Glenn and Viva Williams – they paid $30,000 for her from the draft of Turangga Farm at last year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

She is from the former group winning juvenile Card Queen and another group celebrating the win was the team from Durham Lodge in Western Australia.

The Smith family now own Card Queen and her latest yearling, an eye catching son of Show a Heart, will go under the hammer at next month’s Magic Millions Perth Yearling Sale.