Adelaide’s international Cox Plate victory

Adelaide went a long way to exorcising the demons of 2008 with a memorable win in the $3 million Sportingbet Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.

The star colt, a three-year-old by Northern Hemisphere time, provided champion Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien and superstar English jockey Ryan Moore with victory at their first try in the 2040-metre Group 1.

Adelaide was O’Brien’s first runner in Australia since the 2008 Melbourne Cup, when his three starters finished among the tail after setting a frantic tempo on the pace, and overcame a torrid run to score.

He defeated Fawkner and Silent Achiever in one of the most thrilling finishes in the history of Australia’s weight-for-age championship with just three quarters of a length separating the first six horses over the line.

“We had a lucky day,” Tom Magnier, representing winning owners Coolmore Stud, said.

“I’d just like thank all the team at Ballydoyle and Coolmore and everybody at Moonee Valley and in Australia for making it as easy as it could be to get here.”

One of 10 Northern Hemisphere gallopers issued official invitations, Adelaide became the first internationally-trained runner to win the Cox Plate when he continued his fairytale year that has seen him contest races in five different countries in just eight starts.

Few of his efforts have been as good as what he produced at Moonee Valley. Moore set off on a three-wide move from just before the halfway point of the race and while he had cover for around 250m, he was peeled six-wide from the 600m to continue his run.

Adelaide had Fawkner, who scrambled at the start but still managed to find a good spot just behind the speed one off the fence, to run down when the $4.40 favourite loomed as the winner at the 200m but reeled him in the final 50m.

At the line Adelaide, who started $8, held a short-neck winning margin with Silent Achiever ($26) running the best race of her campaign to finish just a half-head back third.

Side Glance ($21) was just a head back fourth, a short-head clear of Foreteller ($31), who encountered a costly check at the 150m, with Happy Trails ($122) just a further nose away sixth.

Crowd favourite The Cleaner, who led and ramped things up from the 800m, which contributed to the near-track-record time of 2:03.76, only weakened in the final 75m and finished up in ninth position.

Moore was full of praise for the son of Galileo and was thrilled to etch his name onto one of the most prestigious honour rolls in Australian racing.

“Usually the best horse wins, but the best horse sometimes has to do a bit tougher,” Moore said of his tough run. “Things were against him but he still got the job done.

“This is probably the most important weight-for-age race in Australia and this horse has shown what a good colt he is. He’s been around the world this year and come down here and rounded it off.”


Moon shines in Derby lead-up

After winning Friday night’s feature $1 million Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) with Lankan Rupee, trainer Mick Price and jockey Craig Newitt were back in the Moonee Valley winner’s stall on Saturday.

The pair combined with promising three-year-old Moonovermanhattan, who enhanced his AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) claims with a strong performance in Saturday’s $200,000 Dilmah Exceptional Teas Vase (2040m).

Trainer Mick Price revealed a decision to revert back to their original tactics with the colt proved potentially the difference between winning and losing.

“We were going to ride him cold but after the scratchings we decided to ride him forward,” Price said.

“This was the run we wanted to use to get into the Victoria Derby and I was quite rapt, I thought it was a strong win.

“This race is usually the best Derby guide and I think in previous years I’ve run second, third, fourth, five and sixth so there’s one spot to go.”

Settling in second position, Moonovermanhattan ($6.50) scored by just under two lengths over Kiwi maiden Atmosphere ($4), who lost no admirers with a typically resolute finish, and leading Crown Oaks contender Go Indy Go ($6.50) who flashed home from the rear a further short-neck away in third.

Moonovermanhattan firmed from $17 into $6 for the Derby, while Go Indy Go firmed from $10 into $5.50 for the Crown Oaks (2500m).


Fontiton impressive on debut in Inglis Banner

The two-year-old features are still more than four months away, but Fontiton announced herself one of the early contenders for the Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper with a sensational debut victory at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate Day.

The Robert Smerdon-trained filly scored a scintillating victory in the $250,000 Inglis Banner (1000m).

The daughter of Turffontein demonstrated brilliant early speed, capped by an invaluable ability to accelerate when the race got serious to score a runaway win.

It was particularly exciting for Smerdon and the team that race Fontiton – which includes Victor Ognenovski, who won a 10 percent share via an Inglis promotion – given the race was never initially on their agenda.

“She came into training simply to have a bit of education and develop and then go back to the paddock, but everything we did with her she just handled so well,” Smerdon said. “She’s got an old horse’s attitude.

“So we thought we’d progress on and give her a jumpout, and she was impressive there, so we thought we’d give her an official trial and if we were happy and she came through that we’d go the races, so here we are.”

Fontiton, a $110,000 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale purchase, romped home by six lengths as the $3 favourite. That was despite not being knocked around by jockey Mark Zahra over the concluding stages.

Queensland visitor Hot Snippety ($5.50) led home the chasing pack, a half-neck in advance of Braccenby ($17), who worked home stylishly.

“I barely went for her,” Zahra said post-race. “I just got her out and running then brought her back to a comfortable tempo.

“I heard Zac (Purton, on Hot Snippety) come off the bit on the turn and I thought he was the hardest to beat, so I gave her a little shake up, checked the big screen and shut her down.

“She was pretty good. When they win their first start they (still) have to go on with it, but you don’t get more impressive than that.”

Given the impressive nature of the victory, Smerdon said chance to progress to the $150,000 Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate (1000m) at Flemington on 8 November.


Rupee reclaims crown in Manikato

Lankan Rupee, the world’s highest-rated sprinter, reasserted his superiority in Australian sprinting ranks with a dramatic Sportingbet Manikato Stakes victory at Moonee Valley on Friday night.

Last season’s Australian Racehorse of the Year registered his first win of the season when he held on to defeat Angelic Light and Famous Seamus in an exhilarating edition of the feature event on the first night of the Sportingbet Cox Plate Carnival.

The victory – his fourth at Group 1 level – atoned for narrow defeats in the McEwen Stakes and Moir Stakes, both at Moonee Valley, at his first two runs back from a spell and came three weeks after he was found to be suffering from a quartercrack that placed his campaign in jeopardy.

Lankan Rupee’s trainer Mick Price could not hide his delight at the result.

“That was fantastic,” Price said. “He’s just been such a fantastic horse for us.

“He’s had a messy four weeks, he’s missed work and every time we’ve had to attend to his foot we had to give him a day off to let it bed in.

“Moonee Valley’s not his favourite course and he was there to be beaten.

“I just knew that if they run the race like that there would be a nice horse sitting off him, I wasn’t sure which one it would be.”

In the end, most of the field were closing in on the Redoute’s Choice gelding, the $3.90 favourite, at the line.

Robbie Griffiths’ Angelic Light ($13), Lankan Rupee’s McEwen Stakes conqueror, got within a half-head with Famous Seamus ($18) charging into third, just a nose further back.

Rebel Dane, Terravista, Temple of Boom, Buffering and Moment of Change all finished just behind the placegetters, within three quarters of a lengths of Lankan Rupee.

The last horse over the line in the 12-horse field, Bounding, was beaten just 2.6 lengths.

The second and third placegetters both protested against the winner, objections that were dismissed by stewards.

Newitt was full of praise for Lankan Rupee, who lifted his earnings to $3,568,010 with the 10th win of his 19-start career.

“He’s a superstar,” Newitt said. “He’s the only horse in that race that could have done that. He burnt the stick at both ends and still held them off.

“I felt they were going to run him down 50 or 100 off the line, but he’s just got tremendous courage and he lifted when I needed him to.”

Price issued an ominous warning for Lankan Rupee’s rivals who are hoping to turn the tables in the $1 million Group 1 Darley Classic at Flemington – where Lankan Rupee scored a brilliant win in the Newmarket Handicap in March – on 8 November.

“I just can’t wait until Flemington,” Price said. “That will top him right off for November the 8th.”


Admire Rakti wins Caulfield Cup for Japan

Japan’s tumultuous week ended in triumph when Admire Rakti won Saturday’s $3 million Group 1 Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400m).

Eight years after Delta Blues and Pop Rock provided a famous quinella for Japan in the Melbourne Cup, the Tomoyuki Umeda-trained seven-year-old gave Japan its first win in the Spring Racing Carnival’s other big staying handicap.

With Australian jockey Zac Purton in the saddle, Admire Rakti, the 58kg topweight, scored from four-year-old mares Rising Romance and Lucia Valentina in front of a crowd of 32,294.

The victory came less than 36 hours after the winner’s compatriot, Bande, was a shock scratching after failing an examination by Racing Victoria’s vets.

Umeda, through an interpreter, explained how excited he was to win the Caulfield Cup.

“I’m so happy and crying,” he said.

“A Japanese horse has never won this race before so I’m honoured to win this race.

“I think the horse likes Australia.”

Admire Rakti unleashed a strong finish, despite racing wide through, to score a strong win. He settled midfield and although three-wide, Purton had cover for most of the race and hooked into the clear entering the straight.

Specked from $13 to start $11, he finished powerfully to wear down Rising Romance ($12), who benefited from a rails-hugging ride by James McDonald and looked the winner at the 200m.

Lucia Valentina, heavily backed from $4.80 to start the $4 favourite, also finished strongly to grab third placing.

“I thought I was on the right horse for this race, he ran a 1-1/2-length fourth in a Japan Cup, which is good enough to win this race any day of the week,” Purton said

“For me it was just getting the right run in the race and luckily enough I did get that.

“I was three-wide, but I had cover and the Japanese horses like to race like that. So I put myself there instead of going back down towards the fence because I wanted to give him that room. He appreciated that and he won well.”

Admire Rakti became just the fourth horse to carry 58kg to victory in the Caulfield Cup since the metric system was introduced more than 40 years ago, joining Ming Dynasty (1980), Northerly (2002) and another international, 2012 winner Dunaden.

The victory was Admire Rakti’s seventh, from 27 starts, and the $1,750,000 first prizemoney lifted his earnings beyond $5 million.

He is now the $4.20 favourite for the $6 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on 4 November.