Kavanagh colt has Talent

Mark Kavanagh has been dreaming of Australian Derby glory with Sheer Talent, but he might have to readjust his sights to another Classic following his impressive display in today’s C.S. Hayes Stakes at Flemington.

The son of Redoute’s Choice stormed into Australian Guineas contention after posting an upset win in the $150,000 Group 3 event.

Kavanagh pulled the pin on Sheer Talent’s Spring campaign after an unplaced effort in the McNeil Stakes in September and said he had caught him by surprise with how quickly he had come up.

“He wasn’t quite right in the Spring, he had one run and it was really good, but he got crook so we tipped him out with the Guineas and Derbys in mind,” Kavanagh said.

“The way the Guineas is looking we’ll make up our mind in another week or so which way we go. But he is still a little bit round and he is a colt, so there is improvement in him.”

The $500,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas will be run at Flemington on 2 March.

Sheer Talent jumped well from his wide barrier in the Hayes and Stephen Baster positioned him beautifully in the one out one back before edging three wide at the 400m to set out after leader Force Command.

The $15 chance reeled him in by the 100m and edged away to score by three quarters of a length from that galloper, who also started at $15, with the runner-up’s Greg Eurell-trained stablemate Hosting ($8) a half-head back third.

Baster, who celebrated a winning double with Kavanagh having earlier partnered Casquets to Talindert Stakes victory, was taken with Sheer Talent’s performance.

“I didn’t think there was going to be a lot of speed in the race and ‘Kav’ was pretty adamant that he didn’t want him too far forward in case he got revved up, but, to the horses credit, he just relaxed and lobbed in the position really good,” Baster said.

“I think he is definitely going to be better over more ground, so what you’ve seen today he is going to improve on when he steps up (in distance).”

Of the also-rans, the Mick Kent-trained Philippi saw his unbeaten record come to an end but lost few admirers with his fourth placing, while David Hayes’ Bass Strait hit the line nicely for fifth.

The Peter Snowden-trained Albrecht (seventh), who was the subject a sustained betting move from $4.20 to start $3.20 favourite, settled last and came with a wide run rounding the home turn but was never a winning factor.

Story by Brad Bishop

Courtesy www.racingvictoria.net.au

Hayes celebrates Vanity victory

David Hayes wasn’t able to win the race that bears his father’s name today, but the Hall of Fame trainer left Flemington with one of the three-year-old features thanks to Alzora.

The under-rated daughter of Redoute’s Choice upstaged a handy field of fillies to claim the $150,000 Group 3 The Mittys Vanity.

The 1400-metre event preceded the Group 3 C.S. Hayes Stakes, in which David’s horses Bass Strait and Gerontius finished unplaced, and he said it was a huge thrill to win a race on a special day for the family.

“It was actually his birthday today, so it made it a bit more special.” Hayes, who later celebrated a winning double thanks to the win of Niconoise, said.

Alzora settled just worse than midfield three-wide with cover under Nick Hall and was edged into the clear just before straightening but unwound a stout finish to wear down You’re So Good in the final couple of strides.

The $18 chance scored by a short head from the well-backed favourite You’re So Good ($4 to $3.50) with another lightly-raced filly, the Greg Eurell-trained Petite Diablesse ($9) a nose back third.

Alzora’s win was an upset result in the eyes of punters but Hayes said not unexpected from the filly who won the Listed Ethereal Stakes (2000m) on Caulfield Cup Day and is destined for the Group 1 Australasian Oaks in Adelaide.

“She’d been working like a really good horse coming into it,” Hayes said. “We were hopeful she could win and she did, so we’re thrilled.

“She really let down hard and then hung on like a tough filly so I think lots of good things ahead.”

Hayes had further reason to be happy at the end of the day after Niconoise affirmed his liking for Flemington with a track record win in the $80,000 Elms Handicap (1700m) that rounded out the program.

The son of Redoute’s Choice, who is a half-brother to Niconero and Nicconi, took 1:40.83 to record his one length win over Gail, taking 0.57secs off Knight’s Word’s 15-year-old mark.

Story by Brad Bishop

Courtesy www.racingvictoria.net.au

Black well in the red

BLACK Caviar is expected to easily account for a small field at Flemington on Saturday in the race named in her honour.

Peter Moody’s champion mare has opened at $1.05 – or 20-1 on in the old.

At her most recent start in Australia – The Goodwood at Morphettville – she opened at $1.04.

The biggest dangers appear to be from the same stable; Moment of Change ($12) and Golden Archer ($16) are on the second and third line of betting respectively.

Shamexpress ($16) – a last start winner at Moonee Valley – has been one of the best-backed runners in early betting on the Newmarket Handicap.

Tab.com.au will open more markets on the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes including a favourite out market. They will be listed under ‘racing extras’ at www.tab.com.au.

Black Caviar Lightning Stakes

$1.05 Black Caviar

$12.00 Moment of Change

$16.00 Shamexpress

$26.00 Golden Archer

$35.00 First Command

$51.00 Go the Knuckle

$51.00 Satin Shoes

$301.00 Spirit Cent

Orr Too easy for star colt

He’s one of the Melbourne Festival of Racing’s drawcards and All Too Hard showed why with an impressive win in today’s opening leg of the G1 Championship, the $400,000 Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes, at Caulfield.

The Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes-trained colt became the first three-year-old to win the weight-for-age event since Yell a decade ago when he defeated Group 1 winners Mawingo and Mr Moet in the 1400-metre event.

It vindicated Vinery Stud’s decision to pay in excess of $20 million for the half-brother to Black Caviar last December and Wayne Hawkes said it was a relief to see the son of Casino Prince return a winner.

“The pressure is on, because you just want to keep his record in tact and show that everything’s right,” he said.

“But there’s a lot of pressure on him too. He’s worth a lot of money, we’d done our job (as trainers), but he has the final say and credit where it’s due. It was a great win.”

All Too Hard followed in the footsteps of his famous sibling, who won last year’s Orr Stakes, when he scored his fourth win in Melbourne at just his fifth start. The time he was beaten was last year’s Cox Plate, when second to Ocean Park.

Dwayne Dunn didn’t bustle All Too Hard out of the barrier in the Orr, leaving them to settle in third-last position on the outside in the solid tempo set by King Mufhasa and the previously unbeaten Callanish.

After cruising into the race rounding the home turn, Dunn hooked All Too Hard into the clear at the top of the straight and he had assumed control passing the 100m.

The Caulfield Guineas winner, who started $2.30 favourite, peaked on his run late, but held on to score by half a length from Mawingo ($16), who was baulked for a run at the 250m but motored late, while Mr Moet ($13) stormed home from last to finish just a head away third.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the win from Team Hawkes’ point of view is the improvement to come from the colt that Vinery wants to campaign at Royal Ascot in the middle of the year.

“He’s not screwed down yet,” Wayne Hawkes said. “He’s got a fair way to go, where’s he’s going to end up we’re not too sure yet, but you can’t do much more than win first up over seven furlongs. He’s never done that before,” Wayne said.

All Too Hard is now the only horse eligible for the G1 Middle Distance Championship $1 million bonus, payable if a horse completes the Orr Stakes-Peter Young Stakes-Australian Cup treble, but Hawkes said he was likely to head straight to the $500,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) on 2 March.

If the bonus does not go off there is a $50,000 international travel subsidy for the horse who collects the most points in the series that offers points on a 12-6-4-2-1 basis to the first five over the line in each leg.

Mawingo and Mr Moet are in the box seat to claim that after their impressive Orr Stakes efforts, while Wall Street collected points for his fourth placing as did King Mufhasa (fifth).

Story by Brad Bishop

Courtesy www.racingvictoria.net.au

Darley’s Diamond domination

Miracles of Life versus Darley. That’s the enthralling scenario a fortnight out from the Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Stakes after Peter Snowden strengthened his already powerful hand today at Caulfield.

Snowden provided the quinella in the $150,000 Group 3 fillies Prelude with Guelph and Montsegur and also won the 1100-metre colts and geldings qualifier with Kuroshio.

In an embarrassment of riches, Snowden also has the unbeaten Metastasio at home, but he is yet to decide how many starters he will have in the $1 million event on 23 February, which he won two years ago with Sepoy.

“In my mind I think I know what we’ll do, but I need to talk to the team first,” Snowden said. “We’ll probably have three (Diamond runners), but I need to talk to them first and get their thoughts.”

One thing for certain is that Guelph is heading to the Diamond – for which she is now the $3.50 second favourite behind Miracles of Life ($3) – with the daughter of Exceed And Excel living up to Snowden’s pre-Prelude billing as Darley’s leading contender with an impressive win.

She showed improved race sense on her previous two efforts, when she had got back and powered home for a second and a win in Sydney, when she jumped well and took up a position just off the speed at her Melbourne debut.

The easy favourite ($1.80 to $2.35) loomed ominously rounding the home bend before letting down impressively in the second half of the straight to score a soft 1-1/2-length win over her stablemate, who was backed from $3.80 into $3.40. Third, 1-1/4 lengths away, was Godiva Rock ($18).

“Montsegur, she raced very well, but the good part for me was to see the other filly jump and put herself on the bunny,” Snowden said of Guelph.

“She travelled comfortably, handled the corner OK, but once she flattened out she was into her gear all right.”

“She’s been aimed for one race in particular and I’m confident she can peak in two weeks.”

Guelph’s time of 1:03.88 was slightly faster than the 1:04.10 that Kuroshio went in his tenacious effort to claim the boys’ Prelude.

The son of Exceed And Excel flew out of the barriers, but couldn’t cross Marseille Roulette and The Bowler, leaving him trapped three-wide, but he dug in in the straight to prove strongest.

The $3.30 favourite scored by a neck from The Bowler ($8) with Dissident ($3.40), who narrowly defeated Kuroshio in the Blue Diamond Preview on Australia Day, a head away third.

Snowden said it was a trademark display from the colt who has now won two and been placed twice in a four-start career.

“He’s no superstar but he’s very tradesmanlike,” Snowden said. “He’s just a tough little horse, what you see if what you get with him, he always gives 100 percent and he did that again today.”

Despite the victory, Kuroshio is Darley longshot in Diamond betting at $26 with $21 still available about Montsegur. Metastasio is the $7.50 third elect.

Darley’s No 1 rider Kerrin McEvoy was aboard both the Blue Diamond Prelude winners, which completed a winning hat-trick for the in-form jockey following earlier victory aboard the Michael Moroney-trained Octavia.

Story by Brad Bishop

Courtesy www.racingvictoria.net.au