Bowman does it again in Derby

Trent Busuttin and Hugh Bowman combined to win the AAMI Victoria Derby with Sangster

History repeated at Flemington on Saturday when Hugh Bowman combined with a New Zealand three-year-old to win the AAMI Victoria Derby.

One year after the top Sydney jockey combined with the Murray and Bjorn Baker-trained Lion Tamer to win the $1.5 million Classic, Bowman teamed with Sangster to score for young Cambridge horseman Trent Busuttin in front of a crowd of 92,336.

There was no repeat of the 6.5-length romp aboard Lion Tamer, with Sangster falling in by a head from the fast-finishing Induna, but Bowman was just thrilled to get home.

“I wasn’t looking at the screen this year, put it that way,” he said in reference his dream final 100m last year.

“I must thank Bjorn Baker for helping push me for the ride, but the bottom line is the horse did the job and I’m just delighted to be a part of it.”

It was a dream come true for Busuttin, the son of Macau-based trainer Paddy, who was a Spring Carnival regular in the early 1990s with former Caulfield Stakes winner Castletown.

“It’s just fantastic, I can’t describe it,” the 32-year-old said. “We set out three months ago and set the horse for the Derby and everything’s gone like a dream.

“It’s just unbelievable that we’ve got here and done the job. It’s been frustrating all the way through but we’ve picked up the big one.”

But Busuttin wasn’t confident approaching the home turn, with his son of Savabeel having been trapped wide for much of the race.

The $13 chance surged to the front at the top of the straight and after seeing off the challenge of Manawanui at the 250 and kicked more than two lengths clear before holding on to score from a charging Induna ($5.50).

Sabrage ($16) was given a fine ride by Damien Oliver and poked home along the fence to grab third, a further 1.3 lengths back, just in advance of Zabeelionaire ($21) and Isopach ($51).

While Busuttin was concerned with the work Sangster had to do in the run, Bowman said he was confident until the 100m.

“He travelled beautifully in the run,” Bowman said. “My plan was to go back worse than midfield to settle him, but he jumped well and I thought I’ll go forward-ish and he got keen so then I re-elected and tried to settle him.

“I was really happy with where I was in the run but at the 600 the horse I was tracking punctured and I had no choice but to go round him and the horse just took me into the race. He got there a bit soon and he stargarzed the last but he got there.”

The testing Derby distance proved too much for Manwanui at the end of a long campaign with the Ron Leemon-trained Group 1 winner battling into sixth placing, three lengths from the winner.

Glass bounces back to win Mackinnon

Glass Harmonium notched his first Australian Group 1 in the Mackinnon Stakes

Mike Moroney and the Glass Harmonium team got their consolation for the disappointment of last week’s Tatts Cox Plate when the import won Saturday’s $1 million Longines Mackinnon Stakes.

The six-year-old, who was a virtual non-player in the Cox Plate after missing the start, relished the return to his favoured on-pace role to run his rivals ragged in the 2000-metre Group 1.

Glass Harmonium’s jockey Damien Oliver paid tribute to connections for backing up the gelding, who celebrated his first Group 1 win in Australia.

“It was good faith by Mike Moroney and owners to persevere and give him another crack,” he said. “Nothing much went right for us Cox Plate Day, but it all worked out lovely today.”

The son of Verglas gave connections cause to think about returning for Tuesday’s $6 million Emirates Melbourne Cup after an impressive front-running display.

The grey jumped well from barrier two and ran them along but was still able to kick at the 300m and open up a race-winning lead.

Mourayan and Rekindled Interest closed hard late, but Glass Harmonium ($7) had done enough to win, scoring by three quarters of a length from Mourayan ($17) with Rekindled Interest ($6.50) a length back in third.

“He was much a more settled today,” he said. “The start over there at the 2000 (metres) there’s not as much action happening like in front of the grandstand at Moonee Valley.

“He was a much happier horse during the run. I had a nice smooth run and he was very relaxed because he can get a bit wound up but he was just in a good frame of mind today.”

Moroney has his doubts about Glass Harmonium running a strong 3200m of the Emirates Melbourne Cup, but he said it was right race to see if he could run it.

“I’ve always had a little bit of a question mark with him over the two miles, but if we’re ever going to have a go at it it’s the right race, for $6 million, to do it in and he is nicely weighted,” he said.

“We’ll discuss it between all the owners and make a decision.”

Niwot’s lucky day in Lexus Stakes

Niwot secured his Melbourne Cup spot with a win in The Lexus Stakes

Niwot followed in the footsteps of stablemate Maluckyday when he clinched an 11th-hour berth in Tuesday’s $6 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup with a dominant win in Saturday’s $250,000 Group 3 The Lexus Stakes at Flemington.

The Flemington specialist, who was 34th in the Melbourne Cup order of entry heading into the Lexus, needed to win the ballot-free race to force his way into the 24-horse Cup field and he responded with a devastating performance.

Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said the son of Galileo wasn’t in the class of Maluckyday – who won last year’s Lexus en route to finishing second in the Melbourne Cup – but it was satisfying given his career looked in danger after suffering a serious leg injury in 2008.

“It’s probably a bit unfair (to compare them), Maluckyday is probably one of the best horses I’ve ever touched, I’m quite happy to say that,” said Hawkes, who trains Niwot in partnership with father John and brother Michael.

“Maluckyday would be up there with Octagonal as far as running two miles goes, that’s how good Maluckyday is, but this bloke is just a tradesman, (a) workhorse.

“He smashed a knee two-and-a-half years ago, spent 18 months in the wilderness and all the vets said he wouldn’t race again, so it’s going to be quite a good little story if something happens on Tuesday.”

The seven-year-old, who settled midfield one off the fence, took control of the race with a powerful burst at the top of the long Flemington straight.

He shot the to the lead at the 400m and despite having tough stayer Macedonian in pursuit was able to hold a margin and be eased down by jockey Dean Yendall over the concluding stages.

At the line Niwot ($9) had three lengths to spare over Macedonian ($10) with Anudjawun ($13) running a typically consistent race to finish third, 2.3 lengths back.

Heavily-backed $2.60 favourite Green Moon led the field at a solid tempo and looked to travelling at the 450m, but compounding the straight to beat just one rival home.

Yendall was thrilled to secure his Melbourne Cup ride, suggesting there would be much worse rides in the 3200m event.

“Thanks to the Hawkes Team, they’ve done a marvellous effort to get him where he is today,” Yendall said. “It’s a great thrill to win today and win so comfortably in the end.

“As we all know, two miles doesn’t worry him at all so come Tuesday, let’s hope we’ve still got a horse then.”

Niwot was liable for a penalty in light of his Lexus Stakes win, but Racing Victoria handicap Greg Carpenter announced after the race that he wouldn’t be imposing extra weight on the gelding, who will carry 51kg in Tuesday’s big race.

Atlantic Jewel remains unbeaten

Mark Kavanagh’s filly has a mortgage on the Crown Oaks after her Wakeful Stakes demolition

Trainer Mark Kavanagh was left speechless after his budding superstar Atlantic Jewel made it five wins from as many appearances in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday.

The Melbourne Cup -winning trainer was in awe of his untapped three-year-old filly who trounced her rivals in the traditional Crown Oaks lead-up by seven lengths at the justified odds of $1.26.

“Just give me a minute before you ask any questions…..I’m stuck for words to describe that,” an awestruck Kavanagh told the waiting media throng after the race.

“That was a bit arrogant the way she did it, I must admit, it was pretty good.”

In winning the Coolmore-owned daughter of Fastnet Rock became the first filly to complete the Schweppes Thousand Guineas-Wakeful Stakes double since Arborea in 1993.

She is now a $1.15 favourite to become the 35th horse to complete the Wakeful-Crown Oaks double, with the $1 million 2500-metre feature at her mercy on Thursday at Flemington.

Kavanagh, who had initially wanted to spell Atlantic Jewel after her victory in the Thousand Guineas on 12 October, said he was amazed that she’d improved from the Group 1 victory.

“You wouldn’t believe it, but she’d improved after the Guineas and you saw what she did today,” he said.

“She has a turn of foot and she’s so athletic. (She is) just a very special horse.”

Winning jockey Michael Rodd, who sat rearward before rounding up his rivals upon entering the straight, said he knows what Luke Nolen feels like when he pilots unbeaten champion Black Caviar.

“My number one aim is to keep her out of trouble. You don’t have to ride a pretty race with a horse like that,” Rodd, a three-time Group 1 winner this Spring Racing Carnival, said.

“She is quite a big filly with a massive stride on her. She just destroys them.”

Second across the line was roughie Rahveel ($71) with the $9 second elect, New Zealand filly Dowager Queen, working home into third place some 7.5 lengths from the winner.

Sepoy scrapes home in Coolmore

Sepoy notched a narrow but meritorious fourth Group 1 win in the Coolmore Stud Stakes

The margin was slender, but Sepoy completed an undefeated spring campaign when he won the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.

The champion colt was forced to pull out all stops in the 1200-metre event, but he did enough to scrape home by a head from top Sydney colt Foxwedge.

The victory made it five wins from as many starts this spring for the Golden Slipper-winning son of Elusive Quality – and 10th win from 11 starts overall – and trainer Peter Snowden said the effort was better than it appeared.

“It was a really satisfying win,” he said. “He’s had a really long campaign and for him to stay up as long as he has, it’s a credit to the horse.

“He’s had five hard runs, five top runs at the highest level you can get and he’s only still a young horse, so to stay up for as long as what he has it’s full credit to the horse.

“It’s a narrow margin but believe me it was a really good effort.”

Sepoy jumped well from barrier eight and jockey Kerrin McEvoy kept him in clear running so he could make his move whenever he wanted and that was around 400m from home.

He quickly surged alongside leader Satin Shoes and while he held a clear margin at the 200m he was forced to dig deep over the final 50m to hold off a charging Foxwedge.

At the line the $1.30 favourite had a head to spare over John O’Shea’s star colt, who started at $13, with Satin Shoes ($61) battling on well for third just in advance of rising star Zamorar ($41) a further length and a half back.

McEvoy said it was a fine effort at this stage of his preparation given the race didn’t pan out exactly how he would have hoped.

“He probably had a little bit of a look when he hit the front – I might have hit the front a little bit too soon – but we wanted to rise him positively like we have been and run those nice sectionals that breaks the hearts of his opposition,” McEvoy said.

“It’s probably fairly to say that he switches on better around a corner when he’s got a rail to follow but it was just well done to the horse getting the job done.”