Jet Away on target

David Hayes is thrilled with the progression Jet Away is making from the tendon injury that ended a forgettable 2013 Spring Racing Carnival.

The quality import suffered a tendon injury when unplaced in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes on Derby Day, which followed a luckless fourth placing in the Caulfield Cup.

The rising eight-year-old has completed “a couple of months” worth of a rehabilitation campaign and is now back working under rider at Hayes’ Lindsay Park base at Euroa and the Hall of Fame horseman is pleased with his progression.

“He’s been doing rehab, but he’s got the all clear to do normal training, so now we start training him normally,” Hayes said.

“He’s going well and is being trained for the spring.”

Jet Away finished sixth, beaten 4-3/4 lengths, behind Side Glance at the $3 favourite in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on 2 November.

Two weeks earlier he turned in a remarkable performance to hold on for fourth – beaten less than two lengths – when wide throughout after overracing in the Caulfield Cup (2400m).

The Caulfield Cup was just Jet Away’s second run of his second Australian preparation, which was plagued by minor issues, and he is desperate to get a more extensive campaign into the son of Cape Cross in the lead up to this year’s Caulfield Cup, now worth $3 million.

“Hopefully he’ll be able to get some lead up races and he won’t overrace and run the most unlucky fourth in the history of racing,” he said.

“He’ll probably be running in one of the early weight-for-age races of the spring, that’s the plan, the Memsie or the Liston (Lawrence Stakes), and then he’ll head towards the Caulfield Cup.”

The $400,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) is at Caulfield on 30 August, two weeks after the Group 2 Lawrence Stakes (1400m), which will this year be run for a record stake of $400,000.

Hayes also has spring plans with another import owned in similar interests to Jet Away, Dansili five-year-old Stipulate, but he is still spelling and is being prepared for a September return.

Story by Brad Bishop


ShamExpress to stand at Windsor Park

Brilliant Australian sprinter ShamExpress, the fastest son of outstanding sire O’Reilly, has been secured for a syndicate headed by Windsor Park Stud and will commence stud duties at the renowned New Zealand nursery this spring.

A Gr.1 winner of well over A$1million, including the VRC Newmarket Handicap at Flemington, ShamExpress follows champion sires Exceed And Excel and General Nediym as 3YO winners of Australia’s premier sprint race.

Successful on debut as a 2YO at Flemington, ShamExpress trained on at three and four years to win at Gr.1 level and be multiple Gr.1 placed at Weight For Age, including this season when finishing runner-up in both the Lightning Stakes and Sprint Classic. In addition, ShamExpress finished third in the Gr.1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (Ascot Vale Stakes) as a 3YO.

ShamExpress was trained throughout his career by leading Australian trainer Danny O’Brien, who commented: “From the time he first stepped onto the racetrack, ShamExpress was one of the most naturally gifted gallopers I have ever trained. He confirmed that when he won at Flemington on debut, breaking 33 seconds for his last 600m and did so again when winning the Gr.1 Newmarket. He’s absolutely one of the most impressive individuals you could wish to see”.

Windsor Park Stud co-owners Nelson and Rodney Schick inspected ShamExpress in Melbourne last week and were very taken with him.

“After viewing ShamExpress I could not be more excited about him. He’s a beast of a stallion, with the physique and strong genetic profile necessary to be a success. As with his champion sire O’Reilly, ShamExpress was a Gr.1 winner over 1200m as a 3YO against older horses, a fact that also appealed a lot to us” said Rodney Schick.

“We stood Australian Gr.1 winning sprinter Thorn Park, who was Timeform rated 122 and sired Cox Plate, Derby and Guineas winners on his way to becoming a Champion Sire. Like Thorn Park, ShamExpress had the talent to break 33 seconds for his last 600m but was rated even higher by Timeform at 124”.

ShamExpress is one of only two Australian Gr.1 1200m winners among 75 stakes winners sired by O’Reilly and through his dam is a grandson of Windsor Park’s former eight time champion sire Volksraad, whose daughters are now proving so successful at stud.

His granddam Rose World, by champion racehorse and sire Grosvenor, is a granddaughter of Gr.1 Irish Oaks winner Celina and a member of the renowned No.9 stallion producing family of Commands, Kaapstad, Nasrullah, Royal Charger, Tudor Minstrel and Fair Trial.

“We’re syndicating ShamExpress and the response from breeders has been terrific, enabling us to secure him for the NZ breeding industry. He will be a popular addition to our stallion roster at a service fee of $16,000+GST”, remarked Schick.

Report reveals $2.1 billion economic impact

The Victorian thoroughbred racing industry generates nearly $2.1 billion for the Victorian economy and engages close to 72,000 people as an employee, volunteer or participant, according to a report released today by the State Government of Victoria.

Unveiled by Premier and Minister for Racing Denis Napthine, the Size and Scope of the Victorian Racing Industry incorporates the three codes of racing – thoroughbred, harness and greyhound – and was developed by leading strategic consulting business IER.

A thoroughbred-specific version of the report demonstrates the impact the state’s 71 racing clubs and more than 500 annual race meetings has on the economy and social fabric of metropolitan, regional and country Victoria.

It reveals, as an economic contributor, the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry:

• Generates nearly $2.1 billion in value for the Victorian economy (up 31% from 2006).
• Sustains the employment of more than 19,600 full time equivalent jobs for Victorians (up 32% from 2006).
• Generates more than $1.5 billion in spending – this incorporates both breeding and preparation of racehorses as well as on-and off-course customer expenditure. Nearly half of this spending occurs in regional parts of the state.
• Generates more than $483 million in total customer expenditure (incorporating both on-course and non-raceday expenditure).

Racing Victoria Chief Executive, Bernard Saundry, said the Size and Scope report reiterated that racing continues to play an important role in the state’s sporting and social calendar and is an industry that is a significant asset for Victoria.

“This report provides a detailed analysis of the thoroughbred racing industry in Victoria and it demonstrates that the impact of the industry extends well beyond that seen on the racetrack,” Saundry said.

“Racing continues to be an exciting and strongly supported sport. It is an integral part of the sporting life and cultural traditions of people across metropolitan, regional and country Victoria.

“Importantly, thoroughbred racing continues to be a major employer in Victoria and is an industry which makes a significant contribution to the state’s economy.”

The Size and Scope study, the first of its kind conducted since 2006, also displays the integral role thoroughbred racing plays in local communities throughout Victoria:

• It engages close to 72,000 people as an employee, volunteer or participant (up almost 22,000 since 2006). Almost 63% of these participants reside in regional Victoria.
• There are more than 50,000 owners connected with thoroughbred racing, and almost 10,000 horses being trained by more than 1,000 trainers.
• 1,748 breeders and 3,769 breeders’ staff are involved in the production of 3,336 foals each year.
• There are more than 1600 racing club volunteers across the state and close to 500 community organisations are financially supported by thoroughbred racing.

“There are now thousands of people across the state employed in the sport across a range of vocations such as riders, trainers, strappers, farriers, vets, owners, breeders and administrators, as well as associated industries such as fashion, equine and transport,” Saundry said.

“Industry-related activities – both raceday and non-raceday – are playing an important role in the economic health of Victoria’s communities.

“Metropolitan events, such as our world-renowned Spring Racing Carnival, continue to attract large numbers of overseas and interstate visitors who make an important and significant contribution to the state’s economy.

“What’s more, particularly in regional and country areas, racing events and facilities promote social cohesion and provide benefits for a wide range of individuals and community organisations.”

Saundry explained that work was underway on a number of key projects identified in Racing Victoria’s recently released Strategic Plan which would ensure growth and further success can be achieved.

This includes working in conjunction with clubs to develop a joint digital platform for the industry, the restructuring of the raceday calendar and the development of more innovative programming, strengthening the industry’s core revenue by growing thoroughbred wagering turnover, and building stronger fan development and engagement programs, with a particular emphasis on improving diversity.

“While this report demonstrates the positive impact of the industry, we also face a number of challenges and Racing Victoria is constantly striving to innovate and increase engagement,” Saundry said.

“Our Strategic Plan has identified a number of priority areas which the industry as a whole is working towards to continue to drive growth and ensure the sport prospers into the next decade.”

Premier and Minister for Racing Denis Napthine said the study shows how vital racing is to Victoria, the state’s economy and the many people who work in or enjoy the industry.

“This ranges from the once-a-year punter to the owners and breeders who invest in the dream of breeding or owning a champion racehorse,” Dr Napthine said.

“The Coalition Government is a strong supporter of growing the racing industry particularly through its $80 million Victorian Racing Industry Fund (VRIF).”

Old housemates celebrate Group 1

A couple of former housemates celebrated Group 1 victory together today in Adelaide when Smokin’ Joey won the $500,000 The Goodwood at Morphettville.

Emerging trainer Wez Hunter and comeback jockey Ben Melham, who used to live to together in Mornington, combined for a victory that was special for reasons beyond their old living arrangements.

It was the first win at the highest level for Hunter and the first meeting back for Melham, who had not ridden since undergoing hip surgery at the end of last year’s Spring Racing Carnival.

Hunter said Melham being aboard made the win extra special and he said Melham’s record in Adelaide – where he rode three Group 1 winners last year – made up for his lack of match practice.

“It was great to share it with Benny,” Hunter said of his maiden Group 1 success. “About four or five years ago, when I was working for Tony Noonan and Ben was down at Mornington, we used to live together.

“His record over here in Group 1 races last year was enormous, so I didn’t hesitate in putting him on.

“I spoke to him about it a couple of weeks ago and when Jamie Mott couldn’t make the weight, he went straight on.”

Melham justified Hunter’s faith when he brought Smokin’ Joey with a booming finish down the outside to score.

Platelet, who Melham partnered to victory in last year’s The Goodwood, looked set to go back-to-back after dashing clear at the 150m, but Darren Weir’s mare couldn’t withstand the finish of the Encosta de Lago six-year-old.

Smokin’ Joey ($41) scored by half-a-length from Platelet ($7.50) with local Riziz ($26) holding down third, three quarters of a length away, after saving good ground around the home turn.

The David Hayes-trained Gregers ran her usual honest race to finish fourth, while the disappointments were Blue Diamond winner Miracles of Life ($10, 16th), who was having her final start, and well-backed $6.50 favourite Sistine Demon, who beat home only the $101 longshot Whitlam.

Hunter said he thought Smokin’ Joey’s hopes were dashed when he encountered a chequered passage before the straight, but he started to get excited once Melham peeled the gelding to the outside.

“He got about three checks – so I was cursing during the run – because he’s a big, loafing bugger and he needs to build a full head of steam to finish it off well,” he said.

“But once he got to the outside I knew he’d run on. About the furlong onwards I started screaming because I knew he’d be strong at the end of 1200.”

Hunter said although Smokin’ Joey started $41, he gave him a chance based on his work under Hunter’s partner Meredith Tuckett at their new surroundings of Jonathon Munz’s Pinecliffe facility.

“We’ve moved there two weeks ago and it’s given him a new lease of life,” he said of Smokin’ Joey, who also had blinkers reapplied.

“He gets out in the paddock, he’s got his own beach and it’s just an amazing facility. He loves it there.”

Smokin’ Joey, who put Hunter on the map last Melbourne Cup Week when he won at $41 on Derby Day before finishing second in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes, has now won six of 38 starts and the $320,000 winner’s prize took his earnings beyond $1 million.

The Goodwood was the headline act of a bumper card that saw seven of the eight races won by Victorian-trained gallopers.

Damien Oliver celebrated a Group 3 double, winning the National Stakes aboard Mick Price-trained debutante Moonovermanhattan and the Lee Stakes with Mike Moroney’s Rhythm to Spare.

Robert Smerdon and Mark Zahra combined for Group 3 SA Fillies Classic success with Rezoned, Nigel Blackiston’s Ominous made it back-to-back Morphettville wins with his Listed Port Adelaide Cup success, while Colin Little engineered a blowout result in the Listed Centaurea Stakes with $51 pop Blue Ribbon.

The final race on the Morphettville card, the Group 3 Proud Miss Stakes, saw Mick Kent and Dean Yendall combine for victory with Miss Steele.

Story by Brad Bishop


Derby hero Spring dreaming

Kushadasi will be aimed towards the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival features after a last-stride victory in today’s Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville in Adelaide.

Ridden by Victorian hoop Steven Arnold, the Richard Jolly-trained son of Choisir scored in a photo over the sole filly in the race, the Mick Kent-trained Scratchy Bottom.

Set to now head to the paddock for a well-earned break, Jolly said Kushadasi will likely be nominated for both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.

“He’ll be nominated for the better races and we’ll probably see how he comes up and then play it by ear,” Jolly said.

“He’ll probably have six or eight weeks off now and then we’ll assess him. I think he’ll be an even better horse next season.

“To me he’s still immature and he’ll definitely be even better as he matures into his four-year-old year.

“He’s a very relaxed horse that has a good turn of foot and he’s won over 1200, a mile (1600m) and 2500 now so he’s definitely shown that he can stay so we can target those staying races with him.”

Speaking after his first Group 1 victory since he partnered So You Think 2010 to win the 2010 Mackinnon Stakes, Arnold said it was great to win again at the highest level.

“I’ve had a bit of a drought with the Group 1s so it was great to get another one,” Arnold said.

“From a good gate today I was able to get into a good spot in the run.

“Today was his grand final obviously and we were lucky enough to draw a good gate. I was confident that I could be a little positive on him early and he’d relax well because he’s a very relaxed horse.”

Making the most of barrier three, Arnold settled Kushadasi ($4.60) in seventh position on the rail before sticking to the inside on the home turn and joining the leaders at the top of the straight.

With Scratchy Bottom ($5.50) who had also cut the corner sticking hard and against the fence and Arnold angling Kushadasi to the middle of the track, the filly raced to the lead with Kushadasi gradually but surely wearing down the margin before producing one last surge in the shadows of the post.

Following earlier victories on Alpha Beat in the Listed Adelaide Guineas (1600m) and Bocuse in the Fulham Funerald Handicap (1200m), leading Victorian Victorian jockey Damien Oliver was unable to make it a treble finishing half-a-length further back in third aboard the Anthony Cummings-trained Best Case ($12), with Gamblin’ Guru ($8) narrowly a further head away in fourth position.

Story by Ben Asgari