Sacred Falls flashes Cox Plate credentials

Sacred Falls continued his love affair with the Randwick mile recording an impressive victory in Saturday’s Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m).

The two-time Doncaster Mile (1600m) winner firmed from $21 into $12 for the Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) with TAB on the strength of the performance.

The win was first of two Group 1 victories in 20 minutes for trainer Chris Waller, who also claimed the Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield with Foreteller.

A fourth Group 1 victory in 22 career starts for the five-year-old, Waller said it proved the son of O’Reilly was more than just a ‘wet-tracker’.

“Prior to coming to me he won a Group 1 in New Zealand on a pretty firm track and it’s good to see him show it in Australia today that he’s not just a wet tracker,” Waller said.

“It’s just good when a plan comes off, he’s been set for the race and he could have been in the breeding barn but thankfully the owners pushed on and he’s a pretty dominant horse.”

Settling in fifth position on the rail, once jockey Zac Purton angled Sacred Falls ($4F) into the clear at the 200m mark he produced a scintillating turn-of-speed to record a 1.3 length win over stable mate Royal Descent ($6.50), with Laser Hawk ($61) a further half-length away in third.

Hawkspur ($8.50) provided Waller with first, second and fourth in the race finishing 2.5 lengths away from the winner, with three-year-old Panzer Division ($4.80) narrowly further back in fifth.

Four-year-old mares and prominent Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup fancies Lucia Valentia ($6.50) and Rising Romance ($14) were next home filling the sixth and seventh positions respectively.

In the Group 2 Shorts (1100m) the Joe Pride-trained Terravista confirmed his position as Sydney’s top sprinter with a dominant two-length win.

Pride described the horse as the ‘most talented he’s ever had’ and said he could be headed to Melbourne next start to contest the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.

One galloper that could be headed back to Melbourne this Spring is 2011 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) runner-up Manawanui, who resumed with an impressive first-up win in the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m).

Returning after nearly 12 months on the sidelines, the victory was the Ron Leemon-trained six-year-old’s first since the Group 2 AAMI Vase (2040m) at Moonee Valley in October 2011.

In the day’s other features, Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) winner Earthquake finished third in the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m – which was won in an upset result by the John Thompson-trained First Seal – and Junoob made the most of a great front-running ride from jockey Blake Shinn to win the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m).


Boss to the Fore with Group 1 win

Glen Boss’s enthusiasm for yet another Spring Racing Carnival increased at Caulfield on Saturday when the champion jockey returned to the Group 1 winner’s list.

The three-time Melbourne Cup winner broke a 51-week Group 1 drought when he combined with the Chris Waller-trained Foreteller to score a thrilling win in the $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes.

The victory was Boss’s first at the highest level since partnering Rebel Dane to victory in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes on Grand Final weekend last year and the 44-year-old hopes it proves the springboard to more big-race wins over the next six weeks.

“This was an important race for me,” Boss said post-race. “It’s been a long time between drinks in Group 1s, so I’m just thrilled.

“I’m here, I’m fit, I’m riding well, I feel as enthusiastic as ever, I just need opportunities.

“I know I can do the job as good as anyone, I’ve been doing it for a long time, so it’s just a matter of getting on horses like this and the results will be there.”

Boss atoned for several near-misses in Group 1s in the past 12 months with the win. It looked like he might have to settle for another second placing when Happy Trails charged to the front at the 150m, but Foreteller powered late to get home.

The $6.50 chance scored by a half-head from Happy Trails ($10), who showed he is on track for another crack at the Cox Plate, with Crackerjack King ($51) boxing on well for third after settling a solid tempo in front.

“He put himself in a good spot today, which was good from the barrier and he just kept creeping into the race.

“He’s a bit of a trick (to ride), you’ve got to keep the bit up in his mouth as long as possible because you can nullify his sprint if you go too soon on him. But it just worked out great.”

Kiwi mare Silent Achiever, the $3.40 favourite, had a good run midfield but lacked ping in the straight and finished in fifth spot, just over two lengths from the winner.

The victory was Foreteller’s second over the Caulfield 1800m – following victory in the 2013 Peter Young Stakes – and third at Group 1 level. In 2013 he won the Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill and the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington.

The victory completed a dream 20 minutes for Waller, who earlier won the day’s other Group 1 race – the George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick – with Sacred Falls.

The latter now occupies the $12 second line in TAB’s Sportingbet Cox Plate market, which is headed by Dissident and Fawkner at $10, with Foreteller a $15 chance.


Gris Caro races into Caulfield Cup

South Australian trainer Jake Stephens will get his shot at Caulfield Cup redemption after Gris Caro on Saturday raced his way into the $3 million event at Caulfield on 18 October.

The import won the $150,000 Group 3 Jack London Naturalism Stakes (2000m), defeating Entirely Platinum and Bonfire, to secure the lucrative Caulfield Cup ballot exemption on offer to the winner.

It means Stephens will get the chance to go one better than he did in 2011, when crowd favourite Alcopop beat home all bar Dunaden in the Caulfield Cup, and he is thrilled to get another shot att the race.

“It’s very exciting to have another crack at it,” Stephens said. “Hopefully there’s no Dunaden to run over the top of us this time!”

Gris Caro, who Stephens purchased from France early last year, turned in strong on-pace effort to register his first win in Australia.

The grey settled outside leader Bonfire and raced to the front before straightening before fighting courageously up the straight.

A $16 chance, he held off Team Hawkes’ Entirely Platinum to score by a short-half-head with the Gai Waterhouse-trained Bonfire ($5) one length back third.

Albonetti ($61) was fourth, while the hard-luck story was $2.70 favourite Spillway, who never got a crack at them and went to the line untested in seventh position, under three lengths from the winner.

The six-year-old son of With Approval leapt from 90th in order of entry for a start in the Caulfield Cup to a guaranteed place in the world’s richest 2400m handicap.

It was his sixth Australian start in what is his second preparation Down Under and follows a sixth placing in the Penny Edition and seventh placing in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes.

“I think he’s actually got more improvement in him,” Stephens said. “I was only rating him about 95 percent for this one.”

Stephens said given the uncertainty of the campaign leading into the Naturalism he had not given any thought to where he was likely to head next with Gris Caro and would formulate a plan during the week.


Weights released for $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup

Racing Victoria (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, on Tuesday released the weights for the 2014 Emirates Melbourne Cup with Japan’s Admire Rakti the topweight with 58kg.

Only one Japanese horse, Tokai Trick in 2010, has contested the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup since Delta Blues and Pop Rock scored a memorable one-two for Japan in the 2006 edition.

Admire Rakti, who finished a close-up fourth in the 2013 Japan Cup, arrives in Melbourne on Saturday with fellow Japanese entrant Bande who has been allocated 56.5kg.

If victorious at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November, the Tomoyuki Umeda-trained Admire Rakti will become the first original topweight since Comic Court in 1950 to win the Cup.

Carpenter has labelled the weights one of the most challenging of his 10-year stint as RV’s Chief Handicapper with the retirement of several high profile stars.

“Under the Australian Rules of Racing I am obligated to release a topweight of 58kg, however with recent staying champions Fiorente, Dunaden and Americain now retired there was no natural topweight so I’ve had to effectively lift weights 2kg for the majority of runners,” Carpenter explained.

“This is the reason why we are releasing a vastly different set of weights for the Emirates Melbourne Cup to that published for the Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup earlier this month when there was a natural topweight in the European Group 1 winner Mukhadram.

“Whilst this year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup entry carries the 2012 winner Green Moon, dual runner-up Red Cadeaux and last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner, none warranted being allocated topweight based on their past handicaps and their overall form across the past two seasons.”

The Lloyd Williams-owned Green Moon, who is striving to become just the sixth dual Cup winner, has been allocated 57kg having carried 57.5kg when 21st last year.

“Green Moon won the Cup with 54.5kg two years ago and if successful will join Peter Pan (1932-34) as the only dual winner in non-consecutive years,” Carpenter explained.

Red Cadeaux, who is set to line up in his fourth consecutive Cup, has been allocated 57kg – a rise of 0.5kg on his second placing in 2013 and 3.5kg on his placing in the 2011 Cup.

“The progression in the weights for Red Cadeaux is not as profound as that given to some other runners-up in recent times, however he was high in the weights last year and has history against him with no nine-year-old ever successful in the Cup,” Carpenter explained.

Joining the Cup veterans on 57kg are Fawkner, who finished sixth in last year’s race after his Caulfield Cup triumph, and the Godolphin-owned Cavalryman who finished 12th in the 2012 Cup.

Sydney Cup winner and resounding TAB favourite The Offer has been allocated 56.5kg as Gai Waterhouse chases a second successive Melbourne Cup after Fiorente’s breakthrough triumph.

“The Offer has been beaten just once over distances of 2200-metres or further in the past two years and was emphatic winning the Sydney Cup. He’s paid a penalty with the weights being lifted and has been allocated 56.5kg – the same weight carried to victory by Jeune in 1994,” Carpenter said.

Other notable contenders and their weights are;

Dandino (56.5kg) – The Marco Botti-trained international globetrotter who finished fifth in the 2013 Cup having run second in the Caulfield Cup to Fawkner at his Australian debut.

Protectionist (56.5kg) – In-form German-trained Cup runner who won the Group 2 Prix de Kergorlay (3000m) in France last start – as Americain did in his 2010 Cup-winning year.

Silent Achiever (56.5kg) – New Zealand’s four-time Group 1 winner is the highest weighted mare in the Cup. Makybe Diva (2005, 58kg) is the only mare to win with more weight.

Puissance de Lune (56kg) – The one-time favourite for the 2013 Cup who needs a peak performance at 2300m or further to pass the ballot clause and thus qualify for a start.

Seismos (56kg) – Australian-owned, UK-trained former German galloper who was a last start winner of the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2700m) at Newbury.

Mutual Regard (55kg) – Winner of this year’s coveted Ebor Handicap in the UK and trained by former legendary Irish jockey Johnny Murtagh who rode in the 2008 Melbourne Cup.

Pale Mimosa (55kg) – The sole entry from dual Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Dermot Weld. Disappointed when fifth in Sunday’s Irish St Leger, but a trip has not been ruled out.

Willing Foe (55kg) – Godolphin entrant who won the 2012 Ebor Handicap before injury halted his career. An encouraging fourth in the Irish St Leger as he continues his comeback.

Puccini (54.5kg) – Last season’s New Zealand Derby winner who has returned in peak form winning the Group 3 Metric Mile at Awapuni last weekend.

Kirramosa (53kg) – VRC Crown Oaks winner who is unbeaten at 2000 metres and further. Five four-year-old mares have won the Cup with Ethereal the most recent in 2001.

Lucia Valentina (53kg) – ATC Oaks placegetter who rocketed up Cup betting charts with a first-up win in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes in Sydney this month.

La Amistad (51.5kg) – The three-quarter sister to triple Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva who was among the early favourites before an unplaced run last weekend in Sydney.

First acceptances for the Emirates Melbourne Cup will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 7 October.

Dissident wins Makybe Diva Stakes

Dissident made it back-to-back wins to start the season when he won the $400,000 Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.

The Peter Moody-trained four-year-old followed his first-up win in the Memsie Stakes with a fighting win in the 1600m weight-for-age event.

The son of Sebring saw off a challenge from last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner to log a third Group 1 success and only enhance his standing in the eyes of his Caulfield-based trainer.

“He was beaten at the furlong and just refused to lay down,” Moody said on TVN from Rosehill in Sydney, where he was to watch Bring Me The Maid and Better Land go around in the Golden Rose.

“He’s a very courageous horse and he’s just going super.”

As he did in the Memsie, Dissident settled just behind the speed before challenging for the lead early in the straight.

Where he quickly put the Memsie to bed, Dissident was issued a stern challenge over the final 200m in the Makybe Diva Stakes when Fawkner let down.

Dissident did enough to score by a half-head from the Team Williams grey, who was having his first start since the William Reid Stakes in March.

Winning jockey Ben Melham praised Dissident’s fighting qualities after the race.

“Fawkner definitely got level with him, I don’t know whether he headed him, but he showed the attributes of a really good horse – he dug deep, he lengthened stride and he put his head down when it counted.”

Dissident firmed to $8 favouritism for the Sportingbet Cox and while even the Moody camp remain unsure of whether he can run the 2040m of that $3 million event, Melham was reluctant to put it past him.

“He’s going to give himself every chance because he relaxes off the bridle and if he can produce that turn of foot over a mile-and-a-quarter the world is his oyster,” he said.

Last year’s runner-up Puissance de Lune ($7)) filled a Makybe Diva Stakes minor placing for the second year in a row, finishing three-quarters-of-a-length behind Fawkner ($10), while Spillway ($11) worked home well in an unsuitably-run race for fourth.

Boban ($4) encountered some crowding early in the race and was held up early in the straight but lacked his customary zip when into the clear and only battled into fifth position.

Dissident’s win completed a winning double for Moody, who earlier won the Spring Is The Season Handicap with Brambles (Chad Schofield).