Sert salutes in Bendigo Cup

Sertorius showed he had no concerns with his first try at 2400 metres scoring a strong win in today’s $240,000 Listed Jayco Bendigo Cup (2400m).

Originally set for the Toorak Handicap, the Spring plans of the six-year-old were changed when he appeared to be looking for further ground following his second-up run over 1500m at Moonee Valley in September.

That decision by co-trainers Jamie Edwards and Bruce Elkington proved a masterstroke when the son of Galileo put a recent twisted fetlock injury behind him to win the Bendigo Jockey Club’s premier race.

Admitting it was the first time that he really felt under pressure with the horse because of the injury, Edwards revealed that the final decision to take their place in the Cup wasn’t confirmed until this morning.

“I was really upbeat about him winning the Geelong Cup and he had a little hiccup and the final decision to run him today wasn’t made until around 7.30am this morning,” Edwards said.

“He’d had a quiet week because of the injury and it was his first try at a mile-and-a-half (2400m) so there was a definite query on it.

“One thing we’ve always been mindful of with the horse is that we’ve looked after him. He’s very lightly-raced for his age and I would have kicked myself if I’d brought him here and he pulled up sore. I just wanted to make sure he was 100% over the injury and he obviously was.”

Settling in the box seat, Sertorius ($3.80F) travelled kindly during the run before Ryan Maloney eased off the back of the leaders’ heels and into the clear at the top of the home straight.

Taking the lead from Kesampour ($7) at the 200m mark, Sertorius drew clear to defeat Massiyn ($8.50) by 1.5 lengths, with Kesampour just under a length further back in third.

Maloney said Sertorius had demonstrated to him all preparation that he had been looking for the extra distance.

“All his form’s stacked-up and today we drew a good gate, he began well and it was a beautiful tempo,” Maloney said.

“Today was the first time I haven’t had to ask him to track up into the race, he did it himself and put them away, it was never in doubt.

“Last preparation he was a bit fresh and a bit brilliant to run the 2400 metres right out but he’s got a lot of ability and Jamie’s done a terrific job to get him up to quick to be ready for the 2400 metres.”

Story by Ben Asgari


Panther ready to strike

He has a name similar a comic book superhero (read Black Panther) and a touch of mystique to go with it. He has another type of hero as his owner whose loyalty to his jockey mirrors that of a great story of conquest.

Brown Panther was amongst the second group European horses to jet in to Melbourne and take up residence at Werribee on Caulfield Cup Day in the lead up to starting to running in the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).

Owned by English football superstar Michael Owen, this six-year-old horse is a certain starter in Tuesday’s Flemington feature.

While his owner will no doubt attract plenty of interest and maybe even more support in betting from Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United fans amongst the other teams he played for, Brown Panther has also caught the attention of other trainers at Werribee.

“I liked the work of the brown one that just want around”, said Gai Waterhouse when asked if any other the other horses working this morning had grabbed her attention outside of her own Tres Blue.

“Now there’s a tip”, she added wryly when informed that the brown horse was Brown Panther.

Trained by Tom Dascombe at his Manor House Stables in Cheshire of which Owen is a partner, Dascombe has arrived in Melbourne not just ready to take on his Melbourne Cup task but also seemingly open minded to the experience.

“The horse looks well and seems relaxed”, Dascombe said of the seven time winner of 17 starts.

Brown Panther’s work today consisted of two 1400-metre canters with the second stint pushed more strongly to the line.

“He did a nice piece of work this morning and was good to the line”, Dascombe added.

Brown Panther arrived in Melbourne after fifth in the Listed Greene King Stakes (1974m) at Goodwood on 25 September; a race seen as a less desired option to running in the Group 1 Irish St Leger (2800m) ten days earlier and missed due to a high temperature in the lead up.

Nonetheless the Dascombe stable is confident that the fitness levels have carried through to this stage of his preparation.

“The rider was happy with him today and he looks great, his weight is good and he is eating everything so you can’t ask for much more”, he said.

Brown Panther’s most significant win to date was in the Group 2 Goodwood Cup (3200m) in August where he defeated Godolphin’s Azeemah who went on to finish second in that Irish St Leger race behind fellow Melbourne Cup aspirant Voleuse de Coeurs.

Despite many international trainers increasingly choosing local jockeys to pilot their horses when racing in Melbourne, Dascombe has elected to stick with UK jockey Richard Kingscote who has ridden Brown Panther in all but three of his career starts to date – including the latest six.

A Melbourne Cup win would provide Kingscote with his maiden success at the highest level.

“It’s a nice experience to come out here and a very nice confidence booster that they a letting me keep the ride,” said Kingscote who has notched 60 wins in the 2013 UK season so far and rode two winners at Royal Ascot in 2011 including Brown Panther’s victory in the King George V Handicap (2400m).

“It would certainly have been cheaper to put a local rider on plus the Aussie jockeys have more experience in these races but I have been given a really good opportunity and I’m taking it with both hands.”

Story by Danny Matthews


Precedence receives 1kg Melbourne Cup penalty

The Bart and James Cummings-trained Precedence has been penalised 1kg in the Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) for winning the Group 2 Drake International Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.

Racing Victoria (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, made the announcement today that Precedence’s weight had been lifted from 52kg to 53kg for the $6.2 million feature at Flemington on 5 November.

“The penalty takes Precedence back to the same weight he carried when running ninth to Green Moon in last year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup,” Carpenter explained.

“Since then he has won the Group 3 Premiers Cup during the Brisbane Winter Carnival and was simply too good for his rivals in the Group 2 Drake International Cup at Moonee Valley on Saturday.

“The penalty is the same given to Vatuvei for winning the 2012 renewal at Moonee Valley and does not guarantee the horse a start in the race.”

With second acceptances for the Melbourne Cup taken at 10am today, Precedence has made progression in the Order of Entry courtesy of the penalty and withdrawals.

“Precedence was 45th in the Order of Entry prior to Saturday’s victory. As a result of the withdrawals at the second acceptance stage and the 1kg penalty issued today, the horse has moved to 29th in the Order of Entry.

“With the top 24 at final acceptance time allotted a start, Precedence must win the Mackinnon or Lexus Stakes at Flemington on Saturday or rely on attrition to get into the final field.”

Precedence, the stable’s only entry in this year’s Melbourne Cup, has contested the past three editions placing eighth (2010, 53.5kg), 11th (2011, 53.5kg) and ninth (2012, 53kg).

Bart Cummings, 85, has trained the winner of the Melbourne Cup a record 12 times, the latest being Viewed in 2008. He embarked a training partnership with his grandson James, 25, at the commencement of this season on 1 August 2013.


Cox Plate Shamus’ Award

Whoever suggested that fact was stranger than fiction might have had the 2013 Sportingbet Cox Plate in mind.

What script would have had a maiden, who only gained a start in the race after the scratching of the hot favourite, ridden by an apprentice who was yet to win at the highest level winning Australia’s greatest weight for age race.

Shamus Award, the Danny O’Brien-trained colt – who was first emergency for the 2040-metre event – who had not won in nine previous starts, held off Happy Trails and Fiorente to win the $3 million event.

The victory justified O’Brien’s decision to roll the dice with the son of Snitzel, who might have entered the race a maiden but was a six-time Black Type placegetter, including a Caulfield Guineas third placing.

“We were always wanting to run, but we were well aware of the criteria for this race and that we were going to be the last horse into the field,” O’Brien said.

“That happened, we were the first emergency and we had a bit of good fortune with Atlantic Jewel coming out.

“But not much has gone his way the whole spring and over the last seven days we’ve gathered momentum and here we are now.”

Schofield, 19, showed why David Hayes entrusted him with his stable jockey honours at Lindsay Park with a ride well beyond his years.

He found the fence first after jumping well from barrier three and had company in Puissance de Lune, Long John and Super Cool outside him at various stages of the first half of the race.

That trio were struggling when the race was hotting up rounding the home turn and it was Fiorente, despite a wide run throughout, who issued the sternest challenge approaching the straight.

Shamus Award had seen him off by the 100m and all that was then left was to stave off the late surge from Happy Trails, who enjoyed a cosy run on the fence in the second half of the field before weaving a passage through the field rounding the turn.

Happy Trails ($12) failed by a half-head to reel in the $21 chance, who joined Octagonal (1995), Savabeel (2004) and So You Think (2009) as the three-year-olds to win the Cox Plate in the past 20 years.

Schofield said it was a dream to bring up his maiden Group 1 success in the Cox Plate and was thrilled with the way the race worked out.

“He jumped really fast and I let him slide to the winning and I could see Ben trying to ease with Puissance de Lune, so I just maintained the rail,” he said.

“Around the turn and down the side I started to ease home gently and he came back underneath me and travelled well and Fiorente then took off, so that indicated to me that we had him going quite easily. He was strong to the line.

“I had a couple of looks over the last 100 metres and wasn’t sure (if I’d won) but Michael Rodd came up to me and pointed out that the camera was on me.

“I’ve wanted to get a Group 1 win so badly and what a way to do it, in a Cox Plate.”

Fiorente ($8) turned in a sensational Emirates Melbourne Cup trial to finish third, just a long neck away.

Foreteller, who also enjoyed an economical run in the second half of the field, finished strongly to claim fourth placing in advance of Super Cool (fifth) and international galloper Side Glance (sixth).

It’s A Dundeel, the $4 favourite, pulled out to launch a run at the 800m but was beaten before straightening, while Puissance de Lune ($5.50) dropped out late to beat home just two rivals.

Shamus Award is now likely to head to the spelling paddock before being set for the Group 1 Australian Guineas at Flemington in March.

Story by Brad Bishop


Savvy strengthens Derby claims

He had to wait a year longer than most expected, but James McDonald finally got to celebrate Mitchelton Wines Vase victory aboard an odds-on favourite.

The whiz kid Kiwi jockey combined with John O’Shea’s quality staying three-year-old Savvy Nature to win the $220,000 Group 2.

It went some way to atoning for last year, when McDonald was beaten aboard $1.30 favourite It’s A Dundeel in the Vase.

Savvy Nature – the $1.80 favourite – settled back, as It’s A Dundeel did when unable to reel in Super Cool, but he was equal to the task despite never appearing at home on the tight Moonee Valley track.

“He did a lot wrong, he hung quite bad and he really didn’t get around the course very well,” McDonald reported.

“I thought it was déjà vu all over again with Dundeel as a three-year-old. But lucky I was on a horse good enough to get away with it.”

Savvy Nature unleashed a brilliant burst from the 600m to come from the rear and round up his rivals by early in the straight.

The further they went up the short Moonee Valley straight, the further son of Savabeel strode away from his rivals and held a three-length margin over runner-up $201 outsider All Rigged Up. Pinstripe Lane ($17) was three-quarters-of-a-length back third.

O’Shea said it was the perfect way to tune up for next week’s $1.5 million AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m), for which he is the $4 second favourite. Complacent, Savvy Nature’s conqueror in the Gloaming Stakes and Spring Champion Stakes at his previous two starts, is the $3.60 top pick.

“We’ve ticked a box today,” O’Shea said. “He goes into the Derby off a positive run and he had a good blow out. We’re in there with a chance.

“I think the best thing for him is the back up. He’s a big, gross horse but he’s got a good turn of foot and he relaxed beautifully.”

The Vase victory was special for Savvy Nature’s owner Max Whitby, who was a part-owner of Savvy Nature’s sire Savabeel, who won the Cox Plate on this day nine years ago

Story by Brad Bishop