Driefontein On Track For Slipper

Driefontein overcame a slow start to win today’s listed Widden Stakes at Warwick Farm and continue her Golden Slipper preparation in style.

The filly was sent out the hot favourite but punters were worried early when the usual speedy youngster was slow to begin.

But they needn’t have worried with the daughter of Fastnet Rock finishing full of running on the inside of her rivals to win in good style.

The filly was starting for the first time since being awarded the recent $2 million BMW Magic Millions 2YO Classic on protest.

A $75,000 Gold Coast Yearling Sale purchase for Denise Martin’s Star Thoroughbreds, Driefontein’s record now reads out at four wins from four starts and earnings of $1.36 million.

Trainer Gai Waterhouse was impressed with the victory – her classy youngster overcoming troubles to win nicely.

“Things didn’t go her way,” Waterhouse said. “That’s a silly little habit she has developed.”

“But I’lll tell you something – she was really tenacious the way she finished the race.”

“She had every excuse to be beaten. She had to do a little bustle early and I thought the horse on the outside was going to swoop and get her – but she said no way Jose.”

“She dug really deep,” she added. “She is such a good filly.”

Waterhouse said the Golden Slipper was the ultimate aim for Driefontein – but she wasn’t sure where and when she would run between now and Slipper day.

“I’ll have a think,” the Hall of Famer said. “We all know where we’re going don’t we – she’s got the prizemoney to be there – we’ll just shoot and breeze and work it out from there.”

Driefontein, a $75,000 purchase for team Star from the Widden Stud draft (on behalf of Bylong Park Thoroughbreds), is one of five winners, from five to race for the stakes winning mare Follow Gold.

A winner of two races at two, Follow Gold is a sister to the stakes winner Export Gold – the dam of Asian star Forest Gold.

Driefontein is one of 24 stakes winners for her sire Fastnet Rock – the sire of this year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale top seller for $960,000.

Caviar’s brother All Too good

Black Caviar’s younger half-brother All Too Hard made a winning debut in the Talindert Stakes

He’s destined to forever live in the shadow of his legendary half-sister, but All Too Hard showed he has inherited some of the family’s ability with a successful debut at Flemington on Saturday.

On the day that Black Caviar looked to extend her unbeaten run to 19 in the Coolmore Lightning Stakes, the champion mare’s little brother got his career off to the perfect start in the $100,000 Listed Talindert Stakes (1100m).

The son of Casino Prince, who is out of Black Caviar’s dam Helsinge, showed impressive race sense to come from off the speed and race away for a convincing win.

Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes knows All Too Hard, a $1,025,000 purchase at last year’s Inglis Easter Sale, is on a hiding to nothing given who her older sister is, but he said the Talindert proved he was a good horse in his own right.

“There’s always a fair bit of pressure on the horse and everyone is looking at him,” Hawkes said.

“I don’t think there’s been that many people here for Race 1 in a long time and around at the stalls there were a lot of people looking at us saddle him up.

“But it was to be expected. It is always easy to say that after the race, (when) everyone is a bit more cocky and a bit more confident, but you just try to put a lid on these sorts of horses because everyone is booming him without us adding to it.”

All Too Hard settled in behind the leaders, but was put into the clear at the 450m by Dwayne Dunn before setting out after well-performed leader Lil Red Corvette at the 300m.

Once he got the better of Lil Red Corvette, All Too Hard ($2.90 fav) surged away to score by 1-1/2 lengths from Liberty Rock ($6) with Timely Truce ($13) running on well for third, a further 1-1/4 back.

Dunn was thrilled to see All Too Hard bring his trackwork to the races and pledged his allegiance to the blueblood wherever he goes.

“It took me a little while to wind Chris Symons (Lil Red Corvette) in and I thought he was going to be a bit basic, but once I picked the stick up on him and asked him for an effort he put them away quickly, pinned his ears and really wanted to run to the line.”

“I was impressed with that because we haven’t put any pressure to him yet and sometimes those horses go missing. Obviously he’s got the pedigree (and) he’s got the attitude.”

“He is going to be one of the best (of his generation). Which way they go with him is up to Team Hawkes, but I am happy to go anywhere and pilot him.”

That won’t be in next Saturday’s Blue Diamond Stakes, despite the $1 million event being sponsored by All Too Hard’s owner Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm operation.

Hawkes, who trains All Too Hard in partnership with father John and brother Michael, ruled out backing up in Victoria’s premier juvenile event, but suggested he may progress to Sydney for races during the Autumn Carnival.

18 straight for Black Caviar

A step up in distance proved no hurdle for Black Caviar in the G1 Orr Stakes

The 1400 metres of today’s $400,000 Group 1 Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes proved no greater challenge to Black Caviar than the shorter races that she has dominated for the past two years with the unbeaten mare cruising to yet another effortless win.

The Peter Moody-trained megastar excelled at her first start beyond 1200m, coasting to a 3-1/4-length win over Southern Speed in front of more than 20,000 fans that took full advantage of free entry at Caulfield to cheer her home.

The victory took her unbeaten streak to 18 races and matched the winning streak of Hall of Fame inductee Ajax, who put together his stretch in the late 1930s.

But Moody was just happy to see her deliver after another big build up and add another chapter to what has become one of Australian sport’s all-time great stories.

“It’s the public expectation that gets me, because you’d hate to disappoint the 20 to 30,000 people that have turned up,” Moody said.

“People from all over Australia have come here today. A lady left her flooded house in Grafton to come down and see her. Northern Queensland, Western Australia, people (have come) from everywhere and it’s amazing.

“The end is nearer than the beginning but let’s hope it goes for another season or two yet.”

Despite being 200m further than any event she had previously contested, the Orr Stakes played out similarly to most of Black Caviar’s other races.

After settling just off the speed, jockey Luke Nolen edged the $1.05 favourite up alongside the leaders rounding the home bend before quickly putting the result beyond doubt and being eased down over the concluding stages.

Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed turned in an outstanding effort to come from the rear and grab second off what was a pedestrian early tempo, while Western Australian gelding Playing God was half a length back in third.

Black Caviar’s time of 1:25.14 was almost four seconds outside Exceed And Excel’s track record, but she covered the last 600m in 32.97secs, including a head-spinning 10.64secs split between the 400m and the 200m.

Nolen said the race could not have worked out any better and was again impressed by the feel Black Caviar gave him.

“If you were writing a script, that is probably how you would want it to play out,” Nolen said.

“I gave her a shake for 50 yards or so and then I felt her let down. I think the clock will say she has run slick from the three (furlong), because she towed-up good when the pressure came on in the race.

“I just slipped her a bit of rein and she thought it was game on.”

The good news for racing fans is they may get another look at Black Caviar next Saturday with Moody flagging the prospect of a start in the $750,000 Group 1 Coolmore Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington ahead of another 1400m event at Caulfield, the Group 1 Futurity Stakes, on 25 February.

Eagle Falls On Track To Defend Crown

Eagle Falls showed he was on track to defend his crown in the Group One Oakleigh Plate crown with a barnstorming win in today’s Group Three Rubiton Stakes at Caulfield.

Completing a big day for Hall of Fame horseman David Hayes, Eagle Falls came from back in the field with a strong run to win impressively.

While sprint champion Black Caviar won’t be in the Oakleigh Plate the Darley operation’s star colt Sepoy will be.

“The Oakleigh Plate (is his main goal),” Hayes said. “The great one (Black Caviar) is not going on the handicap route so we are very happy about that.”

“He was sick last preparation and we were playing catch up.”

“This time we gave him a good spell and he’s a brilliant track worker and I thought if he reproduced his track work he would go very close today.”

Hayes said Eagle Falls had benefited from being training from his country environment at Euroa, north of Melbourne.

A son of the now Cornerstone Farm based sire star Hussonet, Eagle Falls has turned out a great money spinner for his connections.

He cost leading bloodstock agent Mark Pilkington for $170,000 at the 2007 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale from the draft of Corumbene Stud.

As it stands his outstanding race record reads out at eight wins and three minor placings from just 28 runs – always in elite company.

His earnings has been boosted to $1,076,833 and provided he continues to find more dry tracks into the future, that figure looks destined to continue to rise.

Eagle Falls is one of two winners produced by the Sydney winning Desert King mare Desina.

Desina is a daughter of the three time stakes winning Prego mare Presina – a half sister to Seto Flowerian and The Golden Dane.

World’s eyes on Black Caviar

Racing fans the world over will take an interest in Saturday’s C.F. Orr Stakes

The world will be watching when Black Caviar attempts to extend her unbeaten streak to 18 in Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes at Caulfield.

The champion mare’s trainer Peter Moody revealed at what has become the obligatory Thursday morning media conference before each of the five-year-old’s races that no longer is it just Australian fans that have an interest in how she fares.

“The enquiries probably have come on a more worldwide scale this time,” Moody said.

“I’ve got what I presume is the American equivalent of Sky Channel/TVN who want to speak to me Saturday morning.

“We’ve got a French television racing station coming next week to film some trackwork and do a bit of a story on her and the English and the Irish are always on the phone, as are the Asians.

“It’s probably become more a world story this time around with a view that we’re looking to Ascot.”

Racing fans the world over will get to see Black Caviar tackle a distance greater than 1200m for the first time in the 1400m Orr Stakes, which is the headline act on the opening day of this year’s Melbourne Festival of Racing and will be run at 3.50pm.

Thirteen of Black Caviar’s 17 wins have been achieved over 1200m, including her first-up victory in the Group 2 Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley on January 27, with the remainder over 1000m.

But instead of being concerned about the unfamiliar territory Moody is excited about getting his stable star out in trip with a view to testing 1200m assignments in England.

“It’s something I’ve always talked up and wanted to see happen,” he said. “I’ve always felt that she’d be just as explosive, if not more so up to 1400, and even possibly a mile, and we take a step in that direction on Saturday.

“I want to see her strong at the end of 1400 to give me a positive for going to the two hard, solid 1200s in England, which are on those undulating tracks. It’s something I’m looking forward to having a look at and assessing with a view to those races.”

Black Caviar’s main aims this year are the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and the following month’s Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket.

But Black Caviar has Saturday’s race to get through first and despite the presence of Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed, who resumed with a win over 1400m on Australia Day, and front-runners Danzylum and Doubtful Jack, Moody is confident in the mare’s ability to handle anything thrown at her.

“With Danzylum and Doubtful Jack in the race, they probably guarantee you a nice, even, genuine tempo,” he said.

“Both horses roll along without being silly. Someone might pull something out of left field, but it won’t worry her. She’s that relaxed, she just switches off and takes it all in her stride.”

Black Caviar holds a typically dominant grip on Sportingbet’s fixed odds Orr Stakes market, a prohibitive $1.05 favourite with Southern Speed ($19) the only other runner under $51.