Samaready aces Diamond rivals

Mick Price and Craig Newitt combined for Blue Diamond success with favourite Samaready

Samaready etched her name alongside some of Australia’s great juveniles of the past decade when she won Saturday’s $1 million Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield.

The Mick Price-trained filly joined Bel Esprit, Alinghi and Sepoy as the only favourites to have won Victoria’s premier two-year-old event since 1994 when she defeated No Looking Back and Armed For Action in the 1200-metre event.

Her dominant display in 38-degree temperatures justified the faith of punters, who sent her around at $2.20, and was a relief for Price who has always felt he had the filly to win the Blue Diamond.

“It was a mission accomplished, wasn’t it?” Price said. “You check yourself training horses all the time, but she is just one of those fillies that has had the perfect prep.

“Even saddling her up before the race, she wasn’t concerned by the weather and I had a look at her in the mounting yard and thought ‘have I done enough with her?’.”

It was a sweet win for Price, who trained Roedean to ‘win’ the 2003 Diamond only to lose the race after a positive swab.

Top jockey Craig Newitt took no chances aboard the daughter of More Than Ready and she responded with a victory reminiscent of Sepoy’s emphatic win in last year’s event.

After jumping well, Newitt was content to position Samaready just off the leading pack in the early stages before hooking four-wide and edging his way forward at the 500m.

Newitt and Samaready had comfortably assumed the front before straightening, but that didn’t prevent her from surging away for a three-length win.

Second was the Gai Waterhouse-trained No Looking Back ($6.50), who ran a rave race from her wide barrier, while Anthony Freedman’s previously undefeated Armed For Action ($26) fought on well for third, a further two lengths away, after also travelling wide.

The victory was the first Blue Diamond success for Newitt, who enjoys a runaway lead in the Victoria’s Jockeys’ Premiership, and he was ecstatic to combine with his greatest supporter.

“This is one of the greatest thrills I’ve had in racing and it’s a great thrill to ride this filly,” the Tasmanian native said. “She is a tremendous filly and has a great will to win.

“He (Price) has been there ever since I came from Tassie and he’s always been the one that’s willing to give me a go even though I’ve made a lot of mistakes through the way.

“Coming to the corner I had a lapful of horse, she just travelled up to them so sweet, and turning for home she did the traditional pin the ears back, stretched her neck and away she went.”

Attention now turns to whether Samaready will be given the chance to further emulate Sepoy and chase Golden Slipper glory on 7 April and Price said that will be determined by how she recovers from the Diamond success.

Woorim Scorches Turf in Oakleigh Plate

Woorim provided leading Brisbane trainer Robert Heathcote with his first Group One win when he stormed home to win a thrilling version of the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield today.

Last on the corner, Woorim was pulled to the outside of the track by regular rider Damian Browne and he produced a stunning burst to reel in every runner and win from a wall of rivals.

Now the earner of over $1 million, Woorim is the first winner at racing’s elite level for Brisbane’s premier trainer Heathcote and not surprisingly he was jumping for joy when the photo finish was posted on the big screen.

“A group one – there it is, finally,” Heathcote said. “When you’re back last against a field of cream sprinters like that you don’t expect it.”

“Coming to the turn I saw that orange cap pop out and there was Damian Browne and he knows what the horse is capable of doing.”

“They were pretty good horses and he’s run them down. I didn’t know to be honest when they hit the line (if he’d won), but I knewhe was coming that fast. It’s a real buzz.”

“It’s a Group One – it’s a golden chalice for a trainer. It will be right up there with the highlight of my life – like the birth of my kids etc.”

“(Owners) Ross and Judy Cutts have been to the top of Everest, but it’s my first Group One and a special thanks for them helping me get there.”

“1100 metres we always figured was going to be a bit short,” Heathcote continued. “But we figured with the speed, they would go pretty hard and our bloke would come with a rush.”

“We felt we were a little bit unlucky in the Emirates at the end of the last carnival. He’s done the job today, so what can you say!”

Heathcote said the talented gelding would run next in the Group One Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.

A graduate of the 2007 Magic Millions National Yearling Sale, Woorim is a son of leading Glenlogan Park sire Show a Heart and is raced by Ross and Judy Cutts.

“It’s a real thrill to get Rob’s first Group One,” Ross Cutts said.

Rider Damian Browne said the gelding was “flat the whole way” chasing the leaders.

“I knew he would hit the line hard but I was worried how much start I’d given them. Thankfully he really stuck his neck out.”

“It’s great for Rob to get his first Group One,” Browne added. “He’s been a great support during my career. To get that for him today is a great thrill.”

Woorim is one of two stakes performers and four winners, from four to race, for the grand producer Wabble.

A five time winner and Brisbane winner in her own right, Wabble is a daughter of Canadian Silver and is also the dam of the group performed, six time winner My Limit.

Wabble, who won two races at two, is a half sister to the Meynink Stakes winner Indiana Storm.

Mufhasa King of Caulfield again

Star Kiwi miler King Mufhasa registered his ninth Group 1 win in the Futurity Stakes

King Mufhasa completed a successful hit-and-run raid on the Melbourne Festival of Racing when he won Saturday’s Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield (1400m).

The $500,000 event was the only Australian race canny New Zealand trainer Steve McKee had on the seven-year-old’s summer agenda and he responded with a dominant all-the-way win.

His job was made easier when Peter Moody opted to bypass the Futurity with Black Caviar and while McKee was looking forward to racing against the champion mare, he was happy to see his stable star equal her record of nine Group 1 wins.

“I was excited to take her on and see how close we got to her, but to not have to worry about that and get a Group 1 in the bag is great,” McKee said.

“He’s having a great year. He’s a seven-year-old now, he’s fully mature and his season’s form has been great.”

The Futurity win made it back-to-back Group 1 wins in Australia for the son of Pentire, who was beaten in his first 10 tries at Group 1 races in Australia, following Toorak Handicap victory at Caulfield in the spring. He has also won seven Group 1s in his homeland.

He was always in control of Saturday’s race, which changed complexion with noted front-runner Danzylum was scratched on race morning.

Top jockey Nash Rawiller took advantage of the lack of speed to dictate the race.

Rawiller led clearly and stacked them up mid-race and although King Mufhasa ($2.60 fav) had Pinker Pinker ($3.60) poised ominously on his back, he maintained the length advantage he held over the Cox Plate winner all the way up the Caulfield straight.

King Mufhasa extended that to 1-1/4 lengths on the line with the lone three-year-old in the race, Adamantium ($10), sticking on well after racing outside King Mufhasa to finish a further 1-3/4 lengths back third.

Rawiller, who made it back-to-back Futuritys after scoring aboard More Joyous last year, said it was a soft victory.

“He put them to the sword there just before the straight and I was actually very confident,” he said. “I could hear Pinker Pinker coming but every time I asked for my bloke he gave a little bit more.”

McKee will take King Mufhasa back to New Zealand during the week before heading to Sydney in April where he will chase his first Group 1 racing right-handed in the George Ryder Stakes (1500m).

Caviar prevails in classic Lightning

Black Caviar notched a 19th straight win in Saturday’s Lightning Stakes.

She had to fight for it, but Black Caviar equalled the Australian metropolitan record for the most consecutive wins when she prevailed in a stirring $750,000 Group 1 Coolmore Lightning Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.

The unbeaten mare matched the efforts of Gloaming and Desert Gold, who won 19 races in a row almost 100 years ago, when she again prevailed over arch rival Hay List in the 1000-metre scamper.

It was the first time the daughter of Bel Esprit had backed up two weekends in a row, following her effortless C.F. Orr Stakes win at Caulfield, and her performance brought uncustomary responses from the usually cool trainer/jockey combination of Peter Moody and Luke Nolen.

“I just want to take my hat off to that mare, because she really toughed it out and she touched me today,” an emotional Nolen said. “The chips were down and she showed a lot of courage.

“She has been a bit of a protected species, especially the way she goes about winning her races, and it was great to see that when the chips were down, how much courage she had.”

Moody was similarly touched, suggesting after the race that it was the first time he had ever asked anything of his stable star while also paying credit to Hay List.

“It’s the first serious task I’ve set her and I said to Luke, ‘I feel a bit sorry for her and you because it’s the first time I’ve ever placed either of you under pressure’,” Moody said.

“But she shone through like the top horse that she is.

“Anytime she has been up for a fight, he (Hay List) is the only horse that has made her fight. With all due respect, he is a great horse, but it’s just unfortunate that he’s run into a freak.”

Black Caviar jumped well from the middle barrier and raced in between Hay List, who held a half-length margin to her outside, with Buffering racing to her inside well clear of their rivals.

Nolen edged up alongside Hay List at the 400m but not long after had to urge the mare along to go with Hay List, causing the crowd of 22,806 to hold its collective breath.

The two sprint stars engaged a spirited duel for 100m before Black Caviar gained the edge, pulling clear to score by 1-3/4 lengths.

Her winning time of 55.53 seconds – which included a sizzling 31.78secs final 600m, and a jaw-dropping 9.98secs split from the 600m to the 400m – was just 0.03secs outside Special’s seemingly unachievable track record, set in the 1988 Lightning Stakes.

Although relegated to the runner-up stall in a Group 1 for the fourth time by Black Caviar, the $1.10 favourite, Hay List ($12) no admirers in defeat at his first run since May with Buffering ($71) battling away to claim third, two lengths back, just in advance of Foxwedge ($21).

Black Caviar lifted her earnings to $5,193,050 with her ninth Group 1 success, but Moody is unsure where she is likely to go next with next Saturday’s $500,000 Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) unlikely given the tough Lightning run she had.

“I would pretty much say that she won’t be there next week,” Moody said. “For her to be there next Saturday, she probably had to have it softer today, so we will let the dust settle but she needed to have it softer today to butter up three weeks in a row.

“I’ll sit down with the owners, but if she goes to Dubai (for next month’s $2 million Golden Shaheen), she has probably run her last race in Australia this prep.”

Shopaholic stuns Mosheen in Vanity

Shopaholic announced herself a filly of immense ability with victory in The Vanity

Saturday’s The Vanity was expected to prove the confirmation of one of Australia’s best fillies, but instead it could have unveiled a new one.

Unheralded former Kiwi three-year-old Shopaholic issued a hit to punters, but announced herself potentially one of the best of her generation when ran down heavily-backed favourite Mosheen in the $150,000 Group 3 event.

The $14 chance’s win was unexpected by punters, who hammered Mosheen into $1.45 favouritism, but didn’t come as a complete surprise to O’Brien.

“Mosheen was obviously the testing material in the spring, her and Atlantic Jewel, but our filly is catching up to them now and she is doing a very good job,” the Flemington trainer said.

“I knew this filly was in great order. She’d had a nice win first-up and she’d come on super and you can’t stay at home because of one horse. If anything, she (Mosheen) might have been vulnerable second-up.”
That proved the case, with Shopaholic driving at Mosheen late to get up in the final stride. After jumping well from outside barrier, Mosheen lobbed in second spot behind Great Dame and edged alongside that filly rounding the turn.

Danny Nikolic looked to have a bit up his sleeve at the 400m, but within 100m it was obvious she had a fight on her hands and while she found initially, Shopaholic’s final surge got her home by a short half head. Third, just a head back, was Sydney visitor Angel Of Mercy ($21).

The win completed a winning double for form jockey Dwayne Dunn, having earlier scored aboard Black Caviar’s half-brother All Too Hard, and he said it was a fighting effort.

“She got me a little bit false at the top bend turning in because I thought I had that second horse covered a bit easier than what I did and I never got to the front till right on the wire,” Dunn said. “But to her credit she dug deep.
“Obviously she is a top class mare the second horse, but my horse just got beat in a really good race at Sandown (Twilight Glow Stakes) so we have a pretty big opinion of her.”

O’Brien said Shopaholic would most likely back up in the Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield next Saturday before returning to Flemington for the $400,000 Group 2 Kewney Stakes on 10 March.