Sepoy proves he’s one out of the box in the Diamond

Boom colt Sepoy stamped himself as one of the great two-year-olds of the modern era when he blitzed his rivals by over four lengths in the $1 million Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

The Peter Snowden-trained colt joined 1982 winner Rancher as the only odds-on favourite to claim Victoria’s premier two-year-old race with both horses saluting at the short odds of $1.40.

Sepoy, who is now unbeaten in four starts, also became the first horse since Bel Esprit in 2002 to make a clean sweep of the Blue Diamond series having won the Preview and Prelude en route to Saturday’s Group 1 triumph.

Snowden said that Sepoy, who is owned by Sheik Mohammed of Dubai, has continued to amaze the stable with his efforts on raceday.

“He’s surprising me. As I said in the interview this morning, he’s a good trackworker, but on raceday he pulls out more and more. He’s really surprised me how good he is,” the Sydney trainer said.

Winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who rode the juvenile for the first time, was in awe of Sepoy’s performance and declared the colt the best two-year-old he has ridden.

“He’s come here again and blown them away. Three for three this time in, he’s won all the lead-ups and now the main one, so it was a job well done by everyone,” he said.

“He’s a horse that gets there and you could almost go a stride quicker and he’d still blow them away. He’s got that great ability to sit right on the speed, do it easy and then have a really good turn of foot.”

McEvoy paid tribute to Mark Zahra who had ridden Sepoy in his first three starts before making way for the stable’s number one rider in the Blue Diamond.

“I want to thank Mark. Obviously it’s a tough position for him and we’re good friends, he’s done a top job on this horse and he’s a great asset to the team,” he said.

Sepoy is now set to be given the chance to become just the fifth Blue Diamond winner and first since Courtza in 1989 to win the $3.5m Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m), which will be run at Sydney’s Rosehill Racecourse on 2 April.

Second across the line in the Blue Diamond was the Peter Moody-trained filly Hallowell Belle ($13), who narrowly held off the Lee Freedman-trained Masthead ($51) and her stablemate Metonymy ($41).

Second favourite Atomic ($12), for whom the Freedman stable paid a $55,000 late entry fee, finished second last of the 14 runners leaving connections without any prize money to cover their outlay.

Click to view the Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Stakes result.

Gai strikes again at Caulfield with More Joyous

Sydney’s first lady of racing Gai Waterhouse returned to the scene of her triumph in last year’s BMW Caulfield Cup in fine style scoring another Group 1 victory at Caulfield on Saturday afternoon.

Waterhouse’s golden girl More Joyous proved too good for her rivals when winning the $500,000 Rokk Ebony Futurity Stakes over 1400-metres.

It was the four-year-old mare’s 10th win from her past 11 starts and came on top of her triumph in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield during last year’s Spring Racing Carnival.

More Joyous, who started the $1.45 favourite, will return to Sydney for April’s $2 million Doncaster Handicap (1600m) before embarking on a second tilt at the Tatts Cox Plate later this year.

The brilliant mare finished fifth in last year’s Cox Plate behind superstar So You Think after leading.

Waterhouse, who ended a Melbourne feature race drought when Descarado won the Caulfield Cup, was typically upbeat about the performance of More Joyous who is owned by John Singleton.

“It was just so exciting,” she declared. “The pressure’s on you when you’ve got a big-time horse. Firstly, the public expect it (victory) and, most of all, the owners expect it, so we’re very relieved when she does what we know she can do.

“How lovely to be able to come here and have a horse good enough to win this race. She’ll go back to Sydney because she’s set for the Doncaster.”

Winning jockey Nash Rawiller said it was a pleasure to ride such a talented horse who made his job easy in the Futurity Stakes, a race that doubles as the opening leg of the 2011 Asian Mile Challenge.

“Once you get on her back and you get out there and get amongst it, it all seems easy,” he declared.

More Joyous enjoyed a charmed run third behind the speed before forging clear at the 300-metre mark and holding off fast finishing crowd favourite Whobegotyou ($6.50) by three-quarters-of-a-length. Last year’s runner-up Dao Dao ($26) was again in the money finishing third.

Click to view the Rokk Ebony Futurity Stakes official result.

Hayes and Oliver soar with Eagle in Oakleigh Plate

David Hayes corrected one of the few glitches on his outstanding career record when Eagle Falls won the Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

The time-honoured sprint was a rare Victorian Group 1 to have eluded the Hall of Fame trainer, but he rectified that courtesy of one of his famous gear changes.

Hayes added blinkers to the son of Hussonet for the Melbourne Racing Club’s premier speed test and the gelding responded with a barnstorming finish to sweep a dominant victory in the $400,000 event.

“He had to find a length and I thought he just raced inside them (last start) like he needed blinkers,” Hayes said. “The blinkers first time did the trick in a big race, which was nice.

“We’ve had a bit of a quiet run but we really fancied this horse today, so it’s great.”

Eagle Falls ($21) unleashed a powerful sprint from the second half of the field at the top of the straight to run past his rivals.

He rocketed to the lead around 50m from home and careered away to win by a length and a quarter from the gutsy Avenue ($12), who set a solid pace with Solar Charged, while Hinchinbrook ($26) flashed home along the fence to grab third just a head away.

The win was Hayes’s first at the elite level since Nicconi’s Lightning Stakes win 13 months ago and was only champion jockey Damien Oliver’s second for the season, having won the Golden Rose aboard Toorak Toff in September.

It also snapped a lengthy Oakleigh Plate drought for Hayes’ fellow Hall-of-Famer, whose only other win in the race was aboard Schillaci in 1992.

Oliver said it was great to share victory with Hayes aboard a horse who has an unlucky fifth in last year’s Oakleigh Plate.

“He’s been consistent at the top level without winning a good one, this horse, so he really deserves it,” Oliver said.

“It’s been a while since my last Group 1 and you never (forget) that feeling of winning a big one like that and it was a great buzz.”

For the full result of the Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate, click on the link.

Dream result in St George Stakes

Heart Of Dreams earned himself another shot at the Dubai Australian Cup with a tough all-the-win in Saturday’s Carlton Draught St George Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield.

The Mick Price-trained five-year-old produced his toughest performance yet to not only win the $200,000 Group 2, in which he ran second to La Rocket last year, but convince Price he is ready to run a strong 2000m.

“Certainly he’s got to go to the Australian Cup now, on that,” Price said straight after the race. “He’s a bit vulnerable (at 2000m) but it doesn’t matter, he’s a more mature horse now and he’ll be thereabouts.

“That was a good hard run that will toughen him up for the Australian Cup. He’ll be hard fit and if he draws a gate and he’s well ridden he’ll be there (in the finish).”

It’s hard to disagree in light of his St George display against many of the horses he will meet in the Australian Cup.

The gelding fought Damien Oliver for the first 600m after being fired out to take up a position from his outside barrier, but was still able to kick clear round the home turn and hold his rivals at bay.

Heart Of Dreams ($2.40 fav) cruised home by two and a half lengths from Precedence ($19) with the winner’s stablemate Spacecraft ($9) gaining the nod over Ginga Dude ($9.50) and Lord Pyrus ($9.50) in a three-way photo for third.

Oliver agreed that Heart Of Dreams, now a winner of six of his 23 starts and a tick over $1.5 million, deserved another shot at the $1 million Australian Cup, to be run on March 12.

“That’s the little query, at 2000 (metres), but he’s never far away,” Oliver said. “He’s such a consistent horse, his best runs have been here at Caulfield but he’s never run bad at Flemington.

“We haven’t got So You Think to chase at the moment so why not have a crack.”

For a full result of the Carlton Draught St George Stakes, click on the link.

CAULFIELD SATURDAY SELECTIONS

Blue Diamond Stakes Meeting – Saturday February 26

Race 1 – 3. Eclair Mystic 8. Commanding Time 1. Stirling Grove

Race 2 – 1. Scenic Shot 8. Vesper 5. Down Under Boy

Race 3 – 1. Sistine Angel (EACH-WAY SPECIAL) 2. Zelsnitz 7. Jeter

Race 4 – 1. Almindoro 2. Domesky 3. Kim Devine

Race 5 – 8. More Joyous 9. Ortensia 1. Whobegotyou

Race 6 – 9. Set For Fame 2. First Command 1. Catapulted

Race 7 – 1. Sepoy 14. Hallowell Belle 3. Arctic Command

Race 8 – 2. Heart Of Dreams (SPECIAL) 7. Speed Gifted 3. Ginga Dude

Race 9 – 6. Red Flair 7. Counterpane 1. Culminate