Super Blue Diamond slot for Sepoy

Kerrin McEvoy has one less thing to worry about ahead of Saturday’s Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) after Sepoy drew perfectly for the $1 million event at Caulfield.

Darley’s Victorian Nominations Manager, Andy Makiv, plucked barrier five for the versatile Peter Snowden-trained colt in Victoria’s richest two-year-old race, which has attracted a field of 14.

McEvoy, who went to the draw at Catanach’s Jewellers in Armidale hoping for anywhere between barriers two and seven, was understandably happy.

“It looks like a nice marble to have the way the field has drawn out,” McEvoy said. “It gives us a few options once the barriers open on Saturday.

“He’s very versatile – he could lead, he could sit wherever – so we’ll just get a plan together between now and Saturday, but I’d be quite confident in saying he’d be in the first three or four, depending on how quick they go.”

Last Saturday’s Talindert Stakes winner Anevay looks the likely leader after landing gate three, while Danny O’Brien’s Running Tall (one), Lee Freedman-trained late entry Atomic (two) and Peter Moody-trained filly Hollowell Belle (four) also drew to take up a forward position.

Mick price’s talented filly Holdontoyahorses drew barrier seven, Maribyrnong Plate winner Arctic Command is out in 10, Freedman’s other runner Masthead drew 13, while Robbie Laing’s pair Grand Brittania and Spectrolite came up with 11 and 14 respectively.

The bad news for Sepoy’s rivals is that McEvoy hinted there should be improvement in the son of Elusive Quality, who is striving to become the first horse since Bel Esprit in 2002 to clean sweep the Blue Diamond series after dominant wins in the Preview and Prelude.

Although McEvoy hasn’t ridden him in any of his three starts, the Sydney-based hoop had trackwork sessions aboard him last Thursday and this morning (Tuesday) and liked what he felt.

“He’s probably that little bit more fitter,” McEvoy said. “Peter and Paul (Snowden) have just had him primed for this, his third run in, so you might expect a little bit more (fitness).

“But it’s scary to think he could get any better than the way he’s been winning.”

“I’ve ridden him a couple of times now. Mentally he seems in a great spot, he’s nice and relaxed and he’s got that great little attitude. He looks a picture, this morning’s work was nice and he gave me a nice feel, so it all points to a nice run on Saturday.”

Sepoy tightened into $1.65 with TAB Sportsbet after the draw with Hallowell Belle ($9) and Atomic ($12) the only others under $18.

And there will be no animosity between McEvoy and Zahra, who has surrendered the ride despite partnering Sepoy to all three wins, if he justifies that quote.

Darley’s pecking order among jockeys is well established and McEvoy said Zahra, whose partner Michelle Payne is the sister of McEvoy’s wide Cathy, had been forthcoming with tips on how best to ride Sepoy.

“Mark and I speak about the horses week to week and he’s great like that,” McEvoy said.

“Mark and me are good friends and it’s probably lucky that we are really. But I’m Sheikh Mohammed’s number one jockey and I’m employed by him to ride his best horses, so it’s my job to do that.

“It’s a big assignment for myself and the horse, but I don’t feel any extra pressure stepping into this role on Saturday.”

The Patinack Farm Blue Diamond is Race 7 on Saturday nine-event card, timed to go at 4.10pm.

It is one of three Group 1s on the Caulfield program with fields for the others – the $400,000 Rokk Ebony Futurity Stakes and $400,000 Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate – to be finalised along with the fields for the other six races on Wednesday morning.

Black Caviar sizzles in the Lightning Stakes

Racing’s pin-up horse Black Caviar equalled a 131-year-old record when she blitzed her rivals in the Group 1 $750,000 Coolmore Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington this afternoon.

Australia’s newly crowned World Champion sprinter stretched her unbeaten streak to nine, a feat first achieved on city tracks by 1880 Melbourne Cup winner Grand Flaneur.

Three horses, Mollison (early 1930’s), Eye Liner (mid 1960’s) and Rancher (early 1980’s), have since matched the feat winning their first nine starts on predominantly city tracks.

Black Caviar will get the chance to establish a new mark when she shoots for a perfect 10 out of 10 at her next start during the Melbourne Festival of Racing.

This will come in either the Group 1 $1 million Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday, 12 March or the Group 1 $500,000 Pulse Pharmacy William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night, 25 March.

A decision on whether she contests the Newmarket, Australia’s premier open age sprint, is likely to be made after weights are released for the rich handicap on 1 March.

Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody was in awe of his superstar who was eased down to defeat arch rival Hay List by over three lengths in what was the opening leg of the 2011 Global Sprint Challenge.

Third across the line was three-year-old filly Warm Love who ran the race of her life to finish so close to Australia’s two best sprinters.

“I’m very proud to be a part of what’s probably our ambassador for racing here in Australia at the moment in Black Caviar,” Moody said.

“It’s exciting, I’m lost for words, I don’t know what to say, she’s just one hell of a horse.”

Winning jockey Luke Nolen, who was sat motionless before allowing the four-year-old to sprint clear of her rivals 300-metres from home, said the result was never in doubt.

“It’s a pretty hard feeling to describe, it seems you’ve got an endless reserve to bank on,” he said.

“It was good to just get that Group 1 on her and hopefully there’s many more in store,” he added in reference to missing her maiden Group 1 victory last November at Flemington when suspended.

Pre-race discussion centred upon whether Black Caviar would break Special’s 23-year-old track record of 55.5sec for the 1000-metre straight track.

It wasn’t to be with a stiff headwind and Nolen’s decision to ease her right down over the final 100 metres leading to a winning time of 57.2sec with plenty of petrol still left in the tank.

When asked whether he would travel overseas with Black Caviar, Moody quickly issued a challenge to the Northern Hemisphere’s best sprinters to travel down under and meet her on Australian soil.

“There’s plenty of planes come this way so if any of them want to jump on one and come and have a crack, I’m sure they’ll find a slot for them in a Group 1 here in Australia,” he quipped.

Click to view the Coolmore Lightning Stakes result.

Bullbars a bona fide Guineas contender

Bullbars stormed to Australian Guineas favouritism when he unleashed a last-to-first victory in Saturday’s CS Hayes Stakes (1400m).

The $200,000 Group 3 was a virtual dress rehearsal for the March 5 Guineas and the son of Elusive Quality gave every one of his rivals a start at the top of the Flemington straight but proved too strong.

A $17 Guineas chance with TAB Sportsbet before the CS Hayes, the Peter Snowden-trained colt is now the $8.50 joint favourite with boom New Zealander, We Can Say It Now.

Paul Snowden, Melbourne foreman for his father, said he knew Bullbars had a big run in him but didn’t expect him to win from the outside barrier.

“I said to Henry (Plumtre, Darley manager) before the race, ‘we’ve drawn 15 out of 15, but if we drew a good marble he’d get the coin this horse’,” Snowden said.

“You just have to rely on too much luck (from the wide barrier), you’re out of play early on, but thank heavens we got a good run early on and he was able to overcome that.

“That was an amazing win.”

Bullbars ($15) unleashed a 23.74-second final 400m to reel in Queensland raider Startsmeup ($26) in the final couple of bounds. He had a short-half-head-head to spare on the line with another interstater, South Australia’s Spirited Eagle ($9) a length and a quarter back in third spot.

Enjin Number Nine ($2.70 fav, fourth) enjoyed a nice run just off the speed and shot through to claim the lead midway up the straight but was overrun late, while Anacheeva ($5.50, 11th) raced in the second half of the field and was never a winning chance.

Winning jockey Mark Zahra said it was just the run they wanted to see ahead of the $750,000 Group 1 Guineas.

“We just wanted him to hit the line for the Guineas, so I just rode him really quiet and waited until we fully straightened and brought him to the outside,” he said.

“He had a nice uninterrupted run, but I just liked the way he tried. He pinned his ears back late and had a crack, it was really good to see.”

MELITO BACK WITH A BANG

Melito showed she was on track for a successful campaign when she thumped Hot Danish to win today’s $251,150 Group Two Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill.

Perfectly ridden by Brenton Avdulla, Melito sat on the outside of Hot Danish for much of the race before striking the front and striding clear in her first run since November.

The blue blooded Redoute’s Choice mare, already a multiple Group One winner, looks on track to win more of racing’s elite races prior to being retired to stud.

Trainer Gerald Ryan went into the race confident his star mare was ready to run well after a brilliant barrier trial win earlier in the week,

“I let her tell me when she was ready (to kick off),” Ryan said. “Her trial on Tuesday morning was sensational.”

“That (trial) was the first time Brenton had sat on her back and he put her to sleep and I told him to give her a squeeze and I was surprised how quickly she quickened.”

“She’d done a treat since Tuesday and she did a great job today.”

“She was able to ping out and get across outside the leader and that was the plan,” he added. “Otherwise we would have been stuck out (three deep) where Love Conquers All was.”

“You had one of the best judges of pace in front – Tim Clark riding Hot Danish – and I said to Brenton if you’re right there don’t go before the 300 metre mark before it’s 1400 metres first up.”

“Brenton rode her sensational,” Ryan added.

Ryan took a shine to Melito when she was offered for sale at the 2008 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale. He bid to $600,000 to secure his filly of the sale.

As it stands her outstanding record reads out at five wins and 11 placings from just 21 starts and her earnings continue to rise – they now sit at an imposing $1,767,050.

“It’s amazing this racing industry,” a delighted Brenton Avdulla said. “On Tuesday morning I was going to the trials to do one for Grahame Begg in the first.”

“I got a phone call from Gerald Ryan saying – I’ve got a horse in on Saturday and she’s trialling in the first trial and if you ride it you can have the ride.”

“I said which one and he said Melito!”

“I went straight to Grahame and he said no worries. I do a lot of riding for Grahame and he understands.”

“So I had the ride on the mare and she trialled super and Iwas quite confident coming here today.”

“The little trick was the alley – but we covered that in the first 50 metres,” Avdulla added.

Melito, by champion Arrowfield Stud sire Redoute’s Choice, is one of three stakes performers produced by the stakes winning Marauding mare Cloister.

A winner of the Debutante Stakes at two, Cloister is a three quarter sister to Unison as well as the dam of Flying Alpha.

FLEMINGTON SATURDAY SELECTIONS

Flemington Meeting – Saturday February 19

Race 1 – 10. Anevay (SPECIAL) 8. Riverbank 1. Redangelo

Race 2 – 9. King Diamond 13. Kert 11. Irazu

Race 3 – 3. Diplomatic Force (EACH-WAY SPECIAL) 4. Avienus 7. King Hoaks

Race 4 – 8. Do Ra Mi 5. Southern Speed 9. Absolutely

Race 5 – 11. Bullbars 1. Anacheeva 4. Dusty Star

Race 6 – 7. Black Caviar 9. Crystal Lily 1. Hay List

Race 7 – 9. Offenders 5. Barwon Express 12. Niblick

Race 8 – 15. Studley Park 7. Mount Everest 3. The Wingman