Awesome Atlantic maintains unbeaten record

“Pretty good”. That was Mark Kavanagh understated assessment of the awesome win by Atlantic Jewel in the $70,000 BMW 3YO Fillies Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday.

The boom filly maintained her unbeaten status and took a vice-like grip on Schweppes Thousand Guineas favouritism with a soft win in the 1400-metre event.

Kavanagh did his best to play down Atlantic Jewel’s third career success, but jockey Damien Oliver, who was filling in for the suspended Michael Rodd, was happy to talk up the daughter of Fastnet Rock.

“She’s a star,” Oliver beamed. “She had time to look at the sponsors’ board halfway down the straight and still win.

“She relaxes, she’s got a good temperament, she’ll switch off and she could run any trip you wanted to.”

Oliver settled Atlantic Jewel in third-last position on the outside, before edging her into the race from the 500m.

It was obvious the $1.50 favourite had her rivals covered before straightening, she claimed the lead 250m out and despite shying at something on the infield for a few strides not long after was still able to coast home by 2-3/4 lengths.

Our Miss Jones ($14) made good ground from the rear to run into second placing, three quarters of a length in front of the consistent Sharnee Rose ($8).

Atlantic Jewel’s next start will be in the $500,000 Group 1 Schweppes Thousand Guineas at Caulfield on 12 October – for which she is the $2 favourite – and while Kavanagh pointed out she is yet to race against her biggest Guineas rivals he is confident she will.

“She’s raced against the lower grade, she hasn’t been up against those sorts of horses last week (in the Thousand Guineas Prelude), so it will be interesting when we find out and let her go in a couple of weeks,” Kavanagh said.

“But I rate her up there.”

Americain arrives back in Melbourne in good order

It was like old home week at the Werribee International Horse Centre when reigning Emirates Melbourne Cup hero Americain arrived back in Australia to defend his crown.

Showing no effects of his 38 hour journey to Melbourne from the UK along with nine other international Cup hopes, Americain had a quick pick of grass before returning to the same box he occupied on his visit to Melbourne last year.

“I’m sure he knows he’s been here before,” assistant trainer Stephanie Nigge declared as she took the handsome stallion for a stretch of his legs soon after his arrival.

“He ate and drank normally on the flight which is always a good sign. I’m really happy with the way he travelled,” she said.

Nigge and strapper Louise Zuili, who also doubles as the horse’s track jockey, oversaw Americain’s Melbourne Cup preparations last year and they are confident he will be a force again this year.

“He lost form earlier this year because he was tired after going to Hong Kong after the Melbourne Cup but he’s had a good rest now and he’s ready to take on the Cup again,” Nigge said.

His path will be slightly different this year with Americain a good chance to run in the weight-for-age Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 8 rather than the Geelong Cup on his way to Flemington.

This time American will have some other French company in the shape of Dunaden who has beaten him in two races earlier this year.

Dunaden, trained by Mikel Delzangles, is favoured to follow the same path as American did last year by running in the Geelong Cup en route the Melbourne Cup.

Today’s arrivals also included four horses from the Luca Cumani stable in the care of travelling foreman Charlie Henson.

Bauer, Manighar and Drunken Sailor have all been to Melbourne before but the former Chilean galloper Sahara Sunset is a recent addition to the stable.

Although Bauer, who finished a close second in the 2008 Melbourne Cup, is on his third trip, Henson said the nine-year-old was a “notoriously difficult traveller” and he didn’t cope with the trip as well as his stablemates.

Hall Of Fame trainer Lee Freedman took on a new role as travelling foreman with the former German stayer Lucas Cranach who is to join his brother Anthony’s stable at Rye.

Freedman recently stepped down as head trainer and went to Newmarket in England for five weeks to supervise the preparation of Lucas Cranach who was recently purchased by Australian interests.

“It’s hard to line him up against some of the other internationals at this stage, but he’s a nice type of horse and he’s done well in quarantine at Newmarket,” Freedman said today adding the horse arrived in good order.

Another former German galloper, Illo, was also on the flight. He was bouncing as he entered the quarantine compound at Werribee and was quick to enjoy a pick of grass.

A lightly-framed stayer rather than heavy-set type like Americain, Illo will join the Bart Cummings’ stable for a tilt at this year’s Cups.

Not deterred by his shockingly bad luck on previous trips, English trainer Brian Ellison is back with two Cup hopes in Saptapadi and Moyenne Corniche, both robust types who arrived in good order.

Manawanui presses Guineas claims with Stan Fox romp

The Age Caulfield Guineas big guns Smart Missile and Helmet were in action at Caulfield, but Manawanui served a reminder that he too is a key contender for the $1 million event with an effortless win in the $250,000 Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes at Rosehill.

The Ron Leemon-trained star, who beat both Smart Missile and Helmet in the $1 million Group 1 Golden Rose at his previous start, took his record to five wins with an arrogant win in the 1400m Stan Fox.

The son of Oratorio – who started a prohibitive $1.12 favourite – was never given his head by jockey Glyn Schofield and was eased down over the final 50m but still had 1-3/4 lengths to spare over Roma Giaconda with Cocky Raider a further half-length back in third.

Schofield was delighted with the feel the gelding gave him and is excited about renewing hostilities with Smart Missile, who was luckless in Saturday’s Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, and impressive The Age Caulfield Prelude winner Helmet at Caulfield on 8 October.

“Through the week he just felt enormous, he actually felt like he had tightened up and come on from that win in the Golden Rose and looking at him in the ring today he looked the best he’s looked this preparation,” Schofield said.

“It’s on to Melbourne now. He’s beaten whatever there is to beat in Sydney, but he’s got to go down there on their turf.

“Obviously he’s got to go the other way around, so he’s got a little bit to prove in that regard, but everywhere else I don’t think he’s got much to prove.”

Manawanui’s was the standout performance by likely Spring Racing Carnival raiders at Rosehill on Saturday, where the co-feature was the $175,000 Group 2 Shannon Stakes.

The 1500m weight-for-age event contained Tatts Cox Plate hopefuls Secret Admirer and Fast Clip, but they were upstaged by progressive Al Maher gelding King Lionheart.

The Gai Waterhouse-trained five-year-old, who isn’t nominated for any of the Melbourne majors, scored a fighting win over stablemate Fast Clip with Lone Command in third.

Secret Admirer only battled into fourth spot, while another Cox Plate fancy, the Brett Partelle-trained Torio’s Quest, was a late scratching after dumping the rider on the way to the barriers.

From a Cups point of view, under-rated David Vandyke-trained gelding Lamasery, a BMW Caulfield Cup and Emirates Melbourne Cup entry, made it back-to-back wins with a tough victory under 57kg in the Group 3 Colin Stephen Quality (2400m).

Caulfield Saturday Selections

Rupert Clarke Stakes Meeting – Saturday September 24

Race 1 – 1. Limerock 5. Netra 7. Neriani

Race 2 – 3. Atlantic Jewel (SPECIAL) 8. Sharnee Rose 1. Kneeling

Race 3 – 4. Carnero 5. Extra Zero 10. Pergola

Race 4 – 13. Allanthus 8. Pacino 4. Zoomin

Race 5 – 3. Golden Archer 1. Helmet 10. That’s The One

Race 6 – 1. Pinwheel (EACH-WAY SPECIAL) 4. Toorak Toff 13. Smart Missile

Race 7 – 1. First Command 9. Chosen To Fly 10. Irish Dream

Race 8 – 4. Stole 10. Winged Charm 15. Mondel To Nite

Caulfield Cup winner to kick off Cox Plate campaign in Sydney

Descarado was one of the major forces at last year’s Spring Racing Carnival and the reigning BMW Caulfield Cup titleholder’s hopes of returning to Melbourne in 2011 will become clearer after Saturday’s $175,000 Group 2 Shannon Stakes at Rosehill Gardens.

Trainer Gai Waterhouse, who initially planned to campaign the five-year-old solely in Victoria, was forced to reshape his spring program after he suffered a minor injury early this month.

Waterhouse instead kept the gelding in Sydney, where he will launch his campaign in the 1500-metre Shannon Stakes, which is the feature of an eight-race Rosehill card.

It will be the first of a likely three-run campaign Waterhouse hopes will culminate with a start in the $3 million Tatts Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on 22 October.

The Shannon Stakes – set down for 4pm – may prove a key Tatts Cox Plate lead-up with trainer Grahame Begg also having Australasia’s weight-for-age championship in mind for his classy mare Secret Admirer, the raging $2.30 favourite for the Shannon Stakes.

The Dubawi four-year-old’s only two starts since winning last spring’s Group 1 Flight Stakes have produced narrow second placings this time in and Begg is looking to see how she progresses before her pre-Cox Plate aim, the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) on 1 October.

The under-rated Torio’s Quest and Fast Clip, a stablemate of Descarado who is owned in similar interests, are the others in the Tatts Cox Plate picture that are engaged in the Shannon.

A probable Spring Racing Carnival major player will be in action earlier in the day at Rosehill with Manawanui looking to continue his progression in the $250,000 Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1400m).

The Ron Leemon-trained gelding, who upstaged boom colts Smart Missile and Helmet last time out in the Group 1 Golden Rose to take his record to four wins from five starts, is a raging $1.16 favourite in the field of five.

Manawanui enters Saturday the $6.50 fourth favourite for the Caulfield Guineas, to be run on 8 October, and was last Tuesday among the entries for the $1.5 million AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington three weeks later.

Some potential visitors for the spring mares’ features will step out in the Golden Pendant (1200m), a $250,000 Group 3, while the $125,000 Colin Stephen Handicap (2400m) presents some Cups contenders with a valuable opportunity to pass the first elimination clause.

Lamasery, Galizani, Red Eye Special, Two For Tea and Splendid Honours are the Emirates Melbourne Cup entrants running in the Colin Stephen who haven’t yet passed the elimination clause, but can do so with a top-three finish.