Cup Favourite Returns in Style

He’s been touted as a potential Spring Racing Carnival drawcard for almost a year and today Puissance de Lune emphatically confirmed that the tag was justified with a stunning win in the $220,000 Group 2 Back to Caulfield P.B. Lawrence Stakes.

The Darren Weir-trained grey resumed with a slashing win in the 1400-metre weight-for-age event.

It was his first start since a dead-heat success in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) in March at an autumn cameo, which followed breath-taking wins in the Bendigo Cup and Queen Elizabeth Stakes last Spring.

Champion jockey Glen Boss, who rode Makybe Diva to her three Melbourne Cup wins and was aboard for So You Think’s first Cox Plate success, certainly left no one in any doubt about his opinion of the entire.

“Besides that mare (Makybe Diva) and So You Think, this horse is right up there with the best horses I’ve ever ridden,” Boss declared. “He’s a genuine superstar.

“Weiry’s just got to keep him breathing, keep his tyres pumped up and we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

The son of Shamardal cemented his place at the head of Melbourne Cup markets – firming from $6.50 to $5 for the 5 November event with the TAB – while he has also rocketed to the top of the Sportingbet Cox Plate market at $5.50.

He looked every bit the Cox Plate contender in the Lawrence Stakes, in which he settled last and was still there with 250m before ambling through a gap between runners and setting out after Ajeeb, who shot clear at the top of the straight.

Puissance de Lune, who started $3.50 after opening $2.20 on Wednesday, reeled in Ajeeb with ease, coasting home three-quarters-of-a-length clear of the Mick Price-trained four-year-old, who started at $7.50, with last year’s Lawrence winner Second Effort ($7.50) a neck away third.

Boss said that while Puissance de Lune appeared to do it easy, there was plenty of merit to the performance given there is much improvement to come.

“You see what he did between the 300 and the 100 (metres), that was exceptionally quick,” he said. “These are fit racehorses who are very capable of running quick sectionals, but he passed them with ridiculous ease.

“Over the last 100m he got tired and he’s had a huge blow.”

Weir was relieved to see Puissance de Lune return a winner, having undergone an operation to remove bone chips after his Blamey Stakes success, and the Ballarat trainer will wait to see how he recovers before plotting his next move.

“I’m just glad to get over today,” Weir said. “I just want to see how he pulls up tomorrow, but you would think the ease of it and the way he did it he should go home and have a wade at the beach tomorrow be a really well horse.”

Story by Brad Bishop


Bart Cummings Silks Protected

In recognition of his 60 years milestone as a trainer, the Australian Racing Board (ARB) has today protected Bart Cummings famous green and gold silks for the next fifty years. Under the rules of registration, no-one can replicate the silks before 31 July, 2063 even if they are retired at some stage in the future.

“Bart Cummings is an iconic figure in Australian racing who has been at the forefront of his profession across 7 decades. His accomplishments are staggering including numerous Victorian and South Australian trainers’ premierships, 266 Group 1s and 12 Melbourne Cups” said Peter McGauran, Chief Executive of the ARB.

“Bart is revered by his peers and loved by the racing public. Bart has always had a great sense of occasion and raised the profile and popularity of racing with his dry sense of humour and pithy observations. There would scarcely be an Australian unaware of his endearing personality and training genius. Bart Cummings is synonymous with the Melbourne Cup in a way unknown with any other race or trainer in the world. He has generated expectation and excitement in the Cup for many years.”

“Bart has been a colossus in racing for as long as anyone can remember. His achievements and records can never be broken. He is a unique figure in history. As Bart commences a training partnership with his grandson James Cummings, racing wants to honour him in a way especially important to him – preservation of his racing colours. They have been worn by such champions as Lets Elope, Beau Zam, Leica Lover, Century, Cap D’Antibes, Vivarchi and Think Big amongst many others.”

“Long may they be carried to victory as Bart and James unearth the next champion and Melbourne Cup winner” Mr McGauran concluded.

It’s A Dundeel Takes Top Honours At The NSWROA 2013 Racing’s Night Of Champions

At an exciting new venue and on a spectacular night with numerous highlights and before a large crowd, It’s A Dundeel (NZ) was named the NSW Champion Horse of the Year at the NSW Racehorse Owners Association’s (NSWROA) 2013 Racing’s Night of Champions.

This prestigious event in aid of the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation and held in the Event Centre at The Star, was televised live to the world on Sky Racing World and saw the “best of the best” in the racing world in contention for all the awards.

The award winners for the 2012/13 season were:

NSW 2 YEAR OLD OF THE YEAR Proudly sponsored by the Australian Turf Club Guelph
NSW 3 YEAR OLD OF THE YEAR Proudly sponsored by Gow Gates Insurance Brokers It’s A Dundeel (NZ)
NSW SPRINTER OF THE YEAR Proudly sponsored by Vinery Stud All Too Hard
NSW MILER OF THE YEAR Proudly sponsored by Randwick Equine Centre Appearance
NSW MIDDLE DISTANCE HORSE OF THE YEAR Proudly sponsored by New Zealand Bloodstock Foreteller (GB)
NSW STAYER OF THE YEAR Proudly sponsored by Emirates Glencadam Gold (IRE)
QUEEN OF THE AUTUMN Proudly sponsored by Inglis Red Tracer
NSW COUNTRY CHAMPION HORSE OF THE YEAR Proudly sponsored by Sky Racing World Ortensia
NSW PROVINCIAL CHAMPION HORSE OF THE YEAR Proudly sponsored by Gooree Park Stud Rolling Pin

The Bart Cummings Medal was taken out by Chris Waller making it a double celebration for him on the night as he also picked up the T J Smith Award for the Sydney Premiership Trainer. Other awards to be presented included the George Moore Award (Nash Rawiller), the Theo Green Award (Sam Clipperton) and the Sydney Strapper of the Year (Glenn Barnes). The extraordinarily talented Tom Burlinson, who provided the feature entertainment, had the large crowd enthralled as he took us down memory lane with renditions of Frank Sinatra classics and the age of swing.

NSWROA President, Mr Ray McDowell said “on behalf of the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation and NSWROA, I would like to thank everyone for attending to help us “celebrate the best” of the NSW thoroughbred industry. My thanks also to our sponsors – we couldn’t do it without you! Congratulations to all winners and I look forward to seeing you all again next year at this wonderful event.”

Seville set for big Spring

Macedon Lodge has a swag of intriguing imports getting ready for the Spring Racing Carnival, but Nick Williams said a galloper Australian racing fans have already seen is the one that has him most excited about the coming months.

Williams, who races the Macedon Lodge team in partnership with his father Lloyd and their private trainer Robert Hickmott, said the German-bred son of Galileo was poised to play a big part in the carnival.

The six-year-old has not started since his slashing second in the Turnbull Stakes last October, after which he contracted a virus, but Williams said he was over that.

“If someone said to me, ‘who’s your Cups pick right now?’, I’d say Seville,” Williams declared on RSN’s Racing Ahead.

“He got a viral infection in his bloodstream (after the Turnbull), it settled in one of his back legs, but he’s 100 percent over that now. He’s in perfect order.

“All things being equal, he’ll kick off either at Caulfield or Flemington, on the 31st or the 7th, or in Sydney on that day.”

The Caulfield race Williams is eyeing is the $350,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) with the $350,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington or the $175,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick the following’s week’s options.

Seville charged up Caulfield Cup markets on the strength of his Turnbull Stakes effort last year, when it took subsequent Melbourne Cup winner and Flemington specialist Green Moon to beat him.

The 2011 Irish Derby runner-up is one of 14 Hickmott-prepared runners nominated for the $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m), to be run on 19 October.

Along with Green Moon, Sydney Cup winner Mourayan, Zipping Classic victor Tanby, the classy Fawkner and emerging stayers Excluded and Practiced, Macedon Lodge has a host of imports with no, or limited, exposure in Australia.

Sea Moon, Thought Worthy, Masked Marvel, Hartani, Massiyn, Ranked and Nevis are all Northern Hemisphere-bred gallopers the Macedon operation has high hopes for.

Of Macedon Lodge’s Caulfield Cup entries, all but Practiced and Excluded are also among the entries for the $3 million Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) on 26 October.

Flemington racegoers will get a look at some of Team Williams’ leading contenders tomorrow with Seville, Green Moon, Sea Moon, Thought Worthy and Masked Marvel to all gallop between races

Story by Brad Bishop


Murtagh’s Cup Diamond

Royal Diamond could have just a couple more starts in Ireland before his jockey-turned-trainer Johnny Murtagh switches his attentions towards the Spring Racing Carnival.

One of the world’s most decorated riders, Murtagh has made little impression in the Emirates Melbourne Cup so far and finished only 18th on his most recent visit aboard the Aidan O’Brien-trained Septimus in 2008.

His career in the saddle is still flourishing judged by Group 1 Ascot victories this season on Novellist and Sole Power, but the 43-year-old is now also concentrating on running a major stable in County Kildare.

Royal Diamond makes his latest outing in the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown (03.45am, Friday), where he faces a small but very select field of rivals over 2400 metres.

An experienced seven-year-old, who has even tried hurdling in his time, he has made huge progress at Murtagh’s stable since his principal owner Andrew Tinkler moved him there last season.

Second in last year’s Ebor at York (2800m), he went on to cause a surprise in last year’s Group 1 Irish St Leger at the same trip before competing with credit at the Dubai Carnival.

Royal Diamond heads for his latest assignment on the back of a confidence-boosting 2008-metre Listed victory at this same Dublin course but must turn around the form with Aidan O’Brien’s Ernest Hemingway, who beat him hands-down at the Curragh in June.

“I’m really happy with the way he’s training at the moment and the plan is to run at Leopardstown and then go on to the Irish St Leger,” said Murtagh.

“He won the Leger last year and I’d love to go back and try to win it for a second time.

“We’ll have to see how he comes out of that but I’d love to think we can take him down to the Melbourne Cup later on, it’s a race everyone wants to win.”

Murtagh has also entered Royal Diamond in the BMW Caulfield Cup, as well as the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October.

Ernest Hemingway has not appeared since his five-length victory in the Group 3 Curragh Cup (2800m) but looks like he is being geared towards and end-of-year campaign and has been given plenty of Group 1 entries, including the Irish Leger.

Jim Bolger’s Irish Oaks fourth placegetter Scintillula turned over O’Brien’s Sportingbet Cox Plate entry Mars in an 1800-metre Group 3 at Leopardstown late last month and looks more dangerous than likely outsider St Jean.