Rising Star Wins Drama Filled Railway

Luckygray was confirmed as one of the country’s rising stars when he was awarded Saturday’s $1 million Group One Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot in Perth.

Originally second past the post, a long neck behind kiwi raider He’s Remarkable, Luckygray was elevated to the winning place after a sensational protest hearing that stretched to over 30 minutes past the conclusion of the race.

Stewards ruled that Kerrin McEvoy, who rode He’s Remarkable, allowed his mount to shift out when not clear of Waratah’s Secret, causing that runner to clip heels and fall back onto Ranger who in turn interfered with Luckygray.

In the space of about 100 metres McEvoy was able to get his mount off the fence and out three to four horses from the fence ready to pounce on the leaders – but it was his path to that point that upset stewards and led to him losing the race.

He’s Remarkable bolted clear of his rivals into the straight and Luckygray, with a desperate Shaun O’Donnell in the saddle, knuckled down late to drop the margin back to a long neck when the line was reached.

Two protests were lodged against the winner – the successful objection from O’Donnell aboard Luckygray, while another came from Paul Harvey, rider of fourth placegetter, Waratah’s Secret.

Stewards ruled that the distance lost by Luckygray in the incident near the 600 metre mark was greater than the final margin of 0.45 of a length.

Luckygray’s rider Shaun O’Donnell and trainer Gino Poletti, originally left wondering what might have been, were suddenly set to celebrate as their charge was declared the winner meaning his prizemoney woud leap from $200,000 to $612,500.

“Unfortunately that incident had to happen and it had to get decided in the stewards room,” O’Donnell told Sky Racing World.

“I felt that we deserved the win and everyone could see how he got home and it was great.”

“I didnt at all (see that is was McEvoy who caused the interference). A few of the boys out there said that there was a bit of interference from the winner and it’s caused you to be interfered – so I said to trainer Gino Poletti, we better go and have a look mate.”

“Obviously Waratah’s Secret protested as well as there was movement from the inside, out,” he added.

“Coming back I was a shattered man. You just want a fair and square race. He was the form horse going into the race and he deserves this accolade.”

O’Donnell was confident that Luckygray could measure up to the better horses in the eastern states.

“I don’t know how good he is,” he noted. “But I’d love to own him.”

The win was the biggest in prizemoney terms for O’Donnell, who’s previous biggest win came in the 1993 Kingston Town Stakes.

Trainer Gino Poletti took a shine to Luckygray at the 2009 Magic Millions Perth Yearling Sale and he went to $46,000 to secure him from the Riverslea Farm draft.

A winner of seven of his nine starts, Luckygray has already earned over $876,000 and the sky looks the limit for this rising star of Perth racing.

Luckygray is the first Group One winner for the impeccably bred Redoute’s Choice sire Bradbury’s Luck.

A winner of the Magic Millions 2YO Classic and Canonbury Stakes as a juvenile, Bradbury’s Luck has quickly established himself one of the smartest young sires based in Queensland.

He is a resident of Glenlogan Park and stables alongside the likes of Jet Spur, Real Saga and Show a Heart.

His dam Damah Lady, a daughter of Mukaddamah, won fours races including two and two at distances to 1400 metres.

She in turn is a half sister to the Todman Slipper Trial Stakes winner Diego Garcia, a Magic Millions graduate who’s now in Singapore under the name of Express Win and has earned the equivalent of $1.4 million.

Well-travelled Ortensia gets her deserved Group 1 in Perth

Well-travelled racemare Ortensia continued the great run of mares in Group 1 races this Australian racing season in Perth today, taking out the newly upgraded WATC Winterbottom Stakes over 1200m.

In a fantastic day for Scone based trainer and owners Paul Messara, Alister Fraser, Emma Ridley and Annie Fraser, Ortensia joined Secret Admirer (Epsom Hcp), Black Caviar (Patinack Farm Classic), Southern Speed (Caulfield Cup) and Pinker Pinker (WS Cox Plate) as mares to win at Group 1 level against the males in the last two months.

Red hot jockey Craig Williams has ridden three of the five, in Ortensia, Southern Speed and Pinker Pinker, and the hoop was full of praise for today’s winner.

“She’s always been a Group One mare in our eyes,” Williams said.

I’ve got such a great relationship with her. Only one girl I’ve got a better relationship with, that’s my wife.

“It a great thrill to get that Group One back again.”

ORTENSIA ($50,000 2007 Premier, 6m Testa Rosaa-Aerate’s Pick) was a winner of the 2010 Group 1 ATC Galaxy Handicap at Randwick, but had the race taken off her through a positive swab return, so today’s win was much deserving of the top class mare whose resume reads ten wins across seven different tracks including stakes wins in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

The daughter of Testa Rossa was only beaten 1.6 lengths in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint last December, with this year’s renewal likely to again be tempting for the connections.

Bred by Len Rhodes of Riverside Stud at Corowa NSW and selected by bloodstock agent Steve Brem from Riverside’s draft at the 2007 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale for just $50,000, Ortensia has now earned $1.5 million for her owners Alister Fraser, his partner Emma Ridley and sister Annie Fraser.

Two from two this preparation the six year old mare will travel back to Messara’s world class complex in Scone, before plans are set for her next task, with lucrative Group 1 races in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia, Dubai and Singapore all possibilities for the quality galloper in the next six months.

The progeny of Ortensia’s sire Testa Rossa are all set for another busy Inglis select yearling series next year, none more so than the 2012 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, where 18 youngsters by the Vinery Stud resident have already accepted.

Williams and Ortensia out for redemption

Craig Williams gets the chance to continue his hot spring form with Ortensia in the Winterbottom Stakes

Redemption will be Craig Williams’ driving force when he is reunited with Ortensia in tomorrow’s $500,000 Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in Perth.

The hot Victorian jockey has already “won” a Group 1 aboard the classy six-year-old, last year’s Galaxy at Randwick, but was later stripped of that race after returning a positive swab due to contaminated feed.

It pains Williams that one of the best sprinting mares he has ridden is not a Group 1 winner and he is keen to rectify that when he strives to continue the form that saw him the standout rider of this year’s Spring Racing Carnival.

“Getting back that Group 1 that we lost when she won the Galaxy would be good,” Williams said. “She lost it on an irregularity in her feed, so she should already be touted as a Group 1-winning mare.

“For me, it would be very rewarding to get it back now that the Winterbottom is a Group 1 race.”

Ortensia is a proven performer in Western Australia, having won the Winterbottom Stakes in 2009 when she was trained by Tony Noonan. This year’s Winterbottom will be the first run at the highest level.

The daughter of Testa Rossa showed she was back to her best with a dominant first-up win in the Listed G.H. Mumm Stakes (1100m) down the Flemington straight on Oaks Day at what was her first start for Scone trainer Paul Messara.

Darren Beadman had the ride that day, but Williams was a more-than-interested onlooker and liked what he saw from the mare who he has partnered to five of her nine career wins.

“I won the race on her two years ago and the way she’s raced this preparation, how dominant she was at Flemington, it looks like she’s got the same form again,” Williams said.

“She’s drawn great in barrier two. On paper, there’s not as much pace as there was two years ago when she ran the record (time), it doesn’t look like they’re going to go as fast this year, so she looks great in that field from that draw.”

Ortensia is the $2.20 favourite in TAB Sportsbet’s Winterbottom market. Another eastern-stater, the Peter Snowden-trained Rarefied is the $5.50 second elect with Grand Nirvana ($7) and Kid Choisir ($7.50) considered the pick of the locals.

Ortensia is one of two chances of further Group 1 glory for the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate-winning rider, who will partner Victorian mare Avienus in Saturday’s other Group 1, the $1 million Railway Stakes.

The Mark Webb-trained six-year-old has drawn barrier 10 for the 1600m event and Williams said she only needs to run up to her Spring Racing Carnival form, which included a close second in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m), to be a factor.

“If she takes her Melbourne form over to the west on Saturday she’ll definitely make her presence felt in that race,” Williams said.

Williams also has a good ride in the day’s key support race, the $350,000 Group 2 Western Australian Guineas (1600m), in which he will partner the Trevor Andrews-trained King Saul, who has won two of his three starts.

Americain atones in Zipping Classic

Americain registered another feature Australian win at Sandown on Saturday.

Popular French stayer Americain gained some consolation for his luckless Emirates Melbourne Cup defeat when he won Saturday’s $350,000 Group 2 Zipping Classic at Betfair Park Sandown.

Last year’s Melbourne Cup winner lived up to his drawcard billing at the final metropolitan feature meeting of the 2011 Spring Racing Carnival with a soft win over fellow European Manighar and import Mourayan in the 2400-metre event.

It was his first outing since his monster fourth placing in the $6 million Melbourne Cup, when he carried the 58kg top weight and was pushed wide on the home turn but still surged late to get within 1.3 lengths of compatriot Dunaden.

Part-owner Kevin Bamford said it was a relief to see the seven-year-old, who won the Group 2 Drake International (Moonee Valley) Cup at his first outing this spring, return to the winner’s list and give the crowd of almost 11,000 something to cheer about.

“I think there’s a few people here today because of him and I’m glad he didn’t let anyone down,” Bamford said.

Americain’s class got him home in a tactical affair. Jockey Gerald Mosse was happy to sit back in second-last position despite the slow tempo set by Mourayan and he waited until well into the straight before asking for the supreme effort.

The son of Dynaformer took 100m to warm up, but after hitting top gear the $1.60 favourite quickly reeled in the leaders before coasting home by three quarters of a length from Manighar ($13), who finished a short half head in advance of Mourayan ($4.80).

Mosse, who partnered Americain to his Melbourne Cup win, was thrilled to win another race aboard the entire, who he felt had the race won a long way out.

“This horse is a bit special for me, he make me famous in all of Australia,” Mosse said with a smile.

“He’s already proved he has some serious quality, the only problem the other day in the Melbourne Cup, when everybody feel sad about him was the weight was a bit heavy for him over the two miles.

“Today we have a perfect race – set weights, the ground a bit softer – (and he was a) different animal.

“From the 400 to the 300 he always have a big flat spot. I have to respect him and I just show him my whip to say ‘you get going now because if not I’m going to use it’ and then he turned his engine on and in three strides he came up next to them and I know the game is over.”

The Zipping Classic is likely to be the last time Americain races in Melbourne, but where his next start will be – if at all – will be decided by Bamford and co-owner Gerry Ryan in coming days.

“Gerry and I will sit down and talk it over and talk about the options,” Bamford said. “The options are several, including going to stud, the Ranvet and BMW (in Sydney next autumn), Hong Kong (next month) or Dubai (in March). He probably won’t go back to Europe though.”

Wildes pull a Sandown Guineas Swifty

So Swift provided Bill and Symon Wilde with Group 2 success in the Sandown Guineas.

Warrnambool father-son training combination Bill and Symon Wilde upstaged two of racing’s biggest players when So Swift won Saturday’s $350,000 Betfair Sandown Guineas at Betfair Park Sandown.

The gelding, who was coming off a Hamilton maiden win, poked his head out at the right time under the urgings of jockey-of-the-day Craig Williams to deny the Coolmore-raced Niagara and Darley’s Galah in a thrilling three-way photo finish to the Group 2 event.

Symon Wilde said he and his father had always had a strong opinion of the son of Barely A Moment and felt they had nothing to lose by having a crack at the Guineas.

“There was a bit of depth to the race this year, in past years it probably hasn’t been as deep as this year, but when we drew a good gate and got Craig Williams’ services we thought we’d have a throw at the stumps and we’ve hit middle (stump),” Wilde Jnr said.

“He was probably the one on the way up, some of these have had busy springs, and this was always the aim so it’s great to pull it off.”

So Swift provided Williams with his third of four wins for the day when he overcame inexperience to weave a passage to victory in the straight.

He lobbed in a handy position from his good barrier but got shuffled back to midfield on the fence after the Gai Waterhouse-trained Niagara found the front and ran the field along.

Niagara shifting way from the fence turning for home paved the way for those trailing him to get into the clear and while So Swift was the first to seriously challenge, both he and Niagara had to hold off a late challenge from Galah, who powered home along the fence the final 50m.

So Swift ($19) bobbed at the right time, scoring by a nose from Niagara ($7) with the Peter Snowden-trained Galah ($3.60) just a short half head away third.

Williams said it was an outstanding effort from So Swift at just his fifth trip to the races and predicted bigger things could be in store.

“We’ve seen in his previous races, he’s been a little awkward and still learning his trade and today he just raced really well and comfortable for me but you did see up the straight that he’ll gain more experience and confidence from today,” Williams said.

“It was a great training effort. Well done to the Wildes.”

Williams, who won the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate before missing the Melbourne Cup-winning ride on Dunaden through suspension, earlier won the Group 3 Alannah and Madeline Foundation Stakes aboard hot favourite Under The Eiffel, having also won the opening race on the card – the Written Tycoon Champion Sire Stakes – with Maximus Moonard.

He bookended the program when he combined with Hi Belle to win the final race, giving him four wins for four different trainers.