Kergorlay winner bound for Melbourne

France’s most important guide to the Emirates Melbourne Cup threw up an interesting contender from Germany overnight after a victory from the Andreas Wohler-trained Protectionist.

Wohler, who is based at Gutersloh in the mid-west of the country, has enjoyed success around the world already in the likes of the Arlington Million, QE II Cup in Hong Kong and Dubai Duty Free, and he now has his eyes firmly on Australia.

Four years ago, the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay (3000m) provided the first ever French champion at Flemington when Americain burst onto the scene.

Twelve months later the same galloper, along with eventual first and second Dunaden and Red Cadeaux were involved, while future Cup runner Shahwardi ran in the 2012 Kergorlay.

Last year’s renewal produced Verema, the Aga Khan’s mare who sadly lost her life in Australia.

There were only four runners going to post at the Normandy seaside track overnight, and Wohler held the key to it as he fielded half of them.

Progressing in single file, Protectionist was settled in third place under Eduardo Pedroza as Christophe Soumillon directed the speed aboard his stable companion Altano.

As soon as Pedroza asked his mount for an effort at the 300m, Protectionist sailed past his rivals and settled the race very quickly, without his Panamanian jockey needing to get at all serious.

Protectionist eventually finished a length and a half ahead of Fly With Me, who won the Group 2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier (3100m) back in May.

It was the German-bred four-year-old’s first start outside his homeland, and he has not been out of the places in eight outings.

Wohler, who brought Altano to Melbourne for the 2001 Cox Plate, said: “It wasn’t really a staying race as they didn’t go much pace and Altano isn’t a horse who really wants to lead.

“I was pleased with both of them and Protectionist will be going to Australia. We’re thinking more of the Melbourne Cup than the Caulfield Cup – Caulfield is a very early entry stage so we just put him in.

“We’ll get him down there and he’ll have a prep-race in Australia, I should think in one of the other Cup races.”

Altano, who had finished seventh on his previous start in the Gold Cup at Ascot, is likely to be returning to France to defend his title in the Prix du Cadran (4000m) in October.

The Deauville card also provided a significant result for the Victorian breeding industry with unbeaten colt The Wow Signal, a first-crop son of Rosemont Stud’s Starspangledbanner, winning the Group 1 Prix Morny (1200m).

Story by Martin Kelly


Maid too good in Silver Shadow

Trainer Peter Moody could have two runners in next month’s $1 million Golden Rose (1400m) after Bring Me The Maid returned a winner in Saturday’s $175,000 Group 3 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) at Randwick in Sydney.

Moody said the filly could join Better Land – who was unluckily beaten as favourite 40 minutes earlier in the Group 3 Up And Coming Stakes (1200m) – in the Golden Rose.

“It would be hard now not to go to the Golden Rose in three weeks with the nice gap coming off a heavy track run today,” Moody said.

“She’s trained on nicely from her juvenile year and she’s taken the next step. She was just too good, she had a bit on them and she’s open to good improvement.

“The two times she’s been beaten, arguably she should have won at the Valley and in the Golden Slipper, there’s three or four of them if they had of taken Mossfun’s run the result might have been different.”

Ridden patiently by jockey Luke Nolen, Bring Me The Maid ($1.85F) travelled strongly into the race before proving too strong for Memorial ($4.60) by 1.5 lengths, with Clover Lane ($41) a further 1.3 lengths away in third.

Promoted to fourth on protest after being run off the track by Liberation, Moody said Better Land was a “super colt”.

“It was very unfortunate that he was beaten the way he was today,” he said.

“We’ll just weigh it up over the next couple of weeks but we might have too good chances in the Group 1 in three weeks.”

The Victorian form came to the fore again in the day’s feature – the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) – with last-start Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) winner Tiger Tees proving too good for Royal Descent and Criterion.

Story by Ben Asgari


Damien Oliver claims seventh Scobie

Reigning Emirates Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Damien Oliver cemented his status as a legend of Australian racing when he won a record seventh Scobie Breasley Medal tonight in Melbourne.

Oliver comfortably saw off a late challenge from Victorian Jockeys’ Premiership winner Brad Rawiller to secure the 2014 Scobie Breasley Medal at an intimate evening with the stars at Crown.

Votes for the Scobie Breasley Medal are lodged on a 3-2-1 basis by Racing Victoria (RV) stewards after each of the 110 metropolitan meetings of the 2013-14 season for the rides deemed the best.

Despite missing a quarter of the season as a result of suspension and riding abroad, Oliver amassed 58 votes to assign Rawiller (44) to second place – one position higher than the runner-up’s previous best effort in 2009 and 2013.

For the sixth time in his career Craig Newitt (38) filled a top three position on the vote tally, taking third place ahead of previous winner Glen Boss (29) and veteran Dwayne Dunn (28).

Oliver, who had previously won the Medal in its 1996 inauguration, as well as in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, secured the top votes from stewards at 14 meetings last season.

The award provided the highlight on a memorable night for the 42-year-old who also collected the inaugural Roy Higgins Medal as the winner of last season’s Victorian Metropolitan Jockeys’ Premiership.

Whilst Oliver was celebrating the historic triumph, the connections of Fiorente – the horse he partnered in two Group 1 wins last season – were toasting the stallion’s TVN Victorian Racehorse of the Year title.

The now-retired hero had seven starts in Victoria during the 2013-14 season, with two Group 1 wins and two Group 2 wins for trainer Gai Waterhouse, headlined by his Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) success in spring and his Darley Australian Cup (2000m) triumph in autumn.

The voting was tight with Fiorente (116 votes) narrowly defeating star sprinter Lankan Rupee (103), with Cox Plate winner Shamus Award (25) and Atlantic Jewel (19) rounding out the top four.

Caulfield trainer Mick Price was awarded the Fred Hoysted Medal, which acknowledges the most outstanding training performance on a Victorian track, for preparing Lankan Rupee to an effortless win in the Group 1 Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington in March, a performance that saw him rated the world’s best sprinter.

Star jumps jockey Steven Pateman equalled the record held by Craig Durden when he claimed a seventh Tommy Corrigan Medal in eight years, securing 28 votes to defeat Arron Lynch and John Allen (13).

Oliver’s Roy Higgins Medal success came off the back of 59 metropolitan wins last season and was part of the Victorian Premiership Awards, presented by Wilson Medic One.

Rawiller was recognised for winning his sixth Victorian Jockey Premiership which came courtesy of 154 wins on 25 racetracks and for 37 trainers.

It was a successful night for Ballarat trainer Darren Weir whose 244 statewide winners, including 88 at metropolitan meetings, saw him clinch both the Victorian and Metropolitan Trainers’ Premierships. He was also named the Super VOBIS Trainer of the Year.

Katelyn Mallyon was presented with her second Victorian Metropolitan Apprentices Award thanks to 31 city winners last season, while Jye McNeil won his maiden Victorian Apprentices Award after a breakout season that saw him ride 66 winners across the state.

The VOBIS Horse of the Year title, taken out by Darren Weir’s popular money spinner Trust In A Gust, was one of 11 Victorian Owners and Breeders Awards presented tonight.

Contract Racing’s David and Jenny Moodie were the winners of five awards, including the Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association Metropolitan Owner of the Year on the back of feature wins to Solicit, Veuvelicious and Pillar Of Creation.

Eliza Park stalwart Bel Esprit was named TBV Champion Victorian Stallion for the seventh consecutive season, with Stakes winners Se Sauver and Angels Beach stepping up in the absence of previous banner horse Black Caviar.

Respected RSN form analyst Deane Lester was a popular winner of the VRMA Bert Wolfe Media Award, presented by the VRC.

Bande books Melbourne Cup ticket

Connections of exciting Japanese stayer Bande have confirmed November’s $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) will be the main aim for the five-year-old this preparation.

Bande was a dominant five length winner of Sunday’s Listed Sapporo Nikkei Open (2600m), five days after connections flagged a trip to Melbourne by nominating the galloper for the $3 million Caulfield Cup (2400m).

Racing Victoria’s International Recruitment Officer, Leigh Jordon, has been in contact with a representative from trainer Yoshito Yahagi’s stable today who confirmed the horse would definitely travel to Melbourne.

“Keita Tanaka, who is the Racing Manager for Yoshito Yahagi, confirmed to me today that Bande is coming to Melbourne for the Spring Racing Carnival,” Jordon said.

“The Melbourne Cup will be the primary target for Bande and at this stage both the Caulfield Cup and Geelong Cup remain on the table as potential lead-up runs.

A winner of five of his 12 career starts, Bande was placed behind Epiphaneia in last year’s Group 1 Kikuka Sho (3000m) and was third behind star galloper Gold Ship in the Group 2 Hanshin Daishotin (3000m) in March.

Jordon, who met with Yahagi when he visited Japan in May, noted 2006 Melbourne Cup hero Delta Blues had also finished third in the Hanshin Daishotin prior to his successful Melbourne trip and is confident Bande boasts form lines that will measure up in Melbourne.

“The horse couldn’t have been more impressive winning at Sapporo on the weekend and his form in Stakes races behind the likes of Epiphaneia and Gold Ship is strong,” Jordon said.

“We’ve seen how Japanese-trained horses have performed in Melbourne previously so the prospect of a return in 2014 is extremely exciting.”

Japanese stayers Admire Rakti and Admire Flight are also in the Cups mix and are expected to feature alongside Bande in the Melbourne Cup nominations when they are released on 2 September.

Story by James Tzaferis


Deauville win opens Gate to Melbourne

Gatewood continued his resurgence for trainer John Gosden and earmarked himself an Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) possible with victory at Deauville overnight (AET).

Even with the ground riding very testing, the six-year-old saw off his four rivals with consummate ease to land the Group 3 OSAF Prix de Reux over 2500 metres.

Having spent his formative years with Gosden, when amongst other things a Royal Ascot winner, the son of Galileo travelled down to Australia during 2012 when he landed that year’s Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m).

Gatewood failed to make the cut for the main event at Flemington on that occasion and after several other runs in the Southern Hemisphere he rejoined Gosden from Chris Waller last summer.

After four back-end outings on both turf and all-weather, he was rested though the winter months and has really regained top form since resuming.

A second-place finish at Doncaster was followed by a defeat of subsequent Glorious Goodwood winner and fellow Melbourne Spring Carnival hopeful Pether’s Moon. A win at Goodwood was to follow and last time out he rowed in behind subsequent Group Two winner Sheikhzayedroad.

That brought Gatewood on to Deauville where he scored by two lengths from Andre Fabre’s hat-trick seeking favourite Rio Tigre.

Jockey William Buick was never worse than second on Gatewood and only had to provide minimal assistance from the saddle to allow his willing partner to land his third race of the campaign.

Gosden was absent – as were many British trainers during the afternoon – due to freak storm weather which had grounded UK light aircraft.

However, Buick said: “He got a lead early which helped him and he has seen the race out well.

“He goes well in this ground but he certainly doesn’t need it. Good ground is fine for him but he can go in this softer ground better than others.

“I was always quite confident during the race and it is nice to see him win a Group race as he has always been knocking on the door.

“I think he will head to Melbourne now. He didn’t get in the Cup two years ago but hopefully he can this time around.”

While the Melbourne Cup could be the primary aim for Gatewood, the OTI Racing-owned stayer also holds nominations for the $3 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m).

David Smaga’s Going Somewhere was not disgraced given the sloppy conditions staying from the rear of the field to finish a further length and three-quarters adrift in third.

Story by Martin Kelly