Petrology seals Hayes-Dabernig treble

Petrology was the highlight on a big day for David Hayes and Tom Dabernig with a runaway win in Saturday’s $300,000 Group 2 Sportingbet Sandown Guineas (1600m).

The win gave the partnership an unassailable lead in the Spring Racing Trainers’ Premiership and landed them and their chosen charity partner – Make A Wish Australia – $25,000 in prize money.

The result also capped a treble for Hayes and Dabernig, who earlier prepared the unbeaten Wawail to win the $120,000 City of Greater Dandenong Stakes (1400m) and later claimed the $150,000 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) with Fast ‘N’ Rocking.

Admitting they were thinking of gelding Petrology before his last-start win on Oaks Day at Flemington, Hayes said that was certainly off the table with the son of Fastnet Rock now likely to be aimed towards the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in March.

“That was actually the win of a good horse, he looks like a weight-for-age horse going forward I think,” Hayes said.

“It’s funny Ollie (Damien Oliver) rode him as a two-year-old and he said he felt like a Group 1 horse and recommended a few of his friends buy into the horse and he’s not a bad judge Ollie.

“I’m really excited about him, we’ll put him aside now after he stepped up on the big stage twice and he might be an Australian Guineas horse I think.”

After settling at the tail of the field early for jockey Nick Hall, Petrology ($14) swept down the outside in the straight to score a 2.25-length win over Stratum Star ($3.20F), with Berisha ($101) a further 1.25 lengths back in third.

Hayes said it was a massive thrill to win the inaugural Trainers title in the Spring Racing Premierships, especially as it secured $25,000 for Make A Wish Australia.

“To win for Make A Wish is terrific, it’s a fantastic charity that does a lot of great work with sick children,” he said.

“It’s been a long Spring and we’ve led for nearly a month so it’s great to hang on.”


Bigger goals on Pornichet’s horizon

Gai Waterhouse is already dreaming of much bigger victories for Pornichet than the Mack Tow Sandown Stakes (1500m), which he won impressively on Saturday at Sportingbet Park Sandown.

The French import underlined his class with a dominant performance in the $150,000 Group 3 event.

It was just the second start in Australia for the four-year-old son of Vespone, who Waterhouse said has showed similar traits to last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente.

“He gets his ears back like another horse I know very well,” Waterhouse said in reference to Fiorente.

“He wants to overrace early and then he got into his rhythm, took a second or two to pick up and then he really was full of vengeance right to the line.

“He excites me enormously.”

Pornichet was positively ridden early by James McDonald and found a good spot and although he overraced in the middle stages, he still cruised into the race rounding the home bend.

The $2.15 favourite took control of the event midway down the long Sportingbet Park straight and found enough to defeat General Groove ($15) by 1-1/4 lengths with leader Spacecraft ($26) battling away in third, three-quarters of a length back.

McDonald, who edged one point clear of Damian Lane in the Young Gun section of the Spring Racing Premierships with the victory, was taken by the performance.

“He just idled a little bit, but as soon as I gave him one to the left and one to the right he accelerated really well and I think if the race went on for another furlong he still would have hung on.”

Waterhouse said Pornichet would now head to the spelling paddock and while she did not have a specific autumn goal in mind, his campaign would be geared around being in Melbourne for the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival.


Hucklebuck caps red-letter SA day

Hucklebuck capped a massive day for South Australian racing and trainer Phillip Stokes with a victory in Saturday’s $1 million Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.

The son of Elvstroem’s win was the fifth of the day for a South Australian-trained horse and a third for Stokes, who also triumphed with Eclair Big Bang in the Emirates Airline Handicap (1400m) and Held Hostage in the SecondBite Plate (2000m).

The Tony McEvoy-trained Le Roi in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) and Lord Aspen for trainer Mick Huxtable in the Hilton Hotels and Resorts Plate (1400m) completed the red-letter-day for South Australia.

Hucklebuck’s victory provided both Stokes and jockey Dom Tourneur with a maiden Group 1 success in Victoria.

Stokes said he only decided to run the four-year-old after he was convinced the horse had pulled up well following his win in the Yellowglen Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Derby Day.

He said the win was made even more special when Hucklebuck’s owner Thomas Li surprised him after the race.

“It’s fantastic to have Thomas here and to train a Group 1 winner in Melbourne,” Stokes said.

“Thomas has been a great support of the stable and it’s fantastic to get a big win for him.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Stokes said the strong pace set up by Tasmanian gelding The Cleaner suited Hucklebuck, who he never doubted would run a strong 1600 metres.

“I always was (confident) but I was just playing it down (in the media), he said.

Settling just behind the speed, Hucklebuck ($10) travelled sweetly for Tourneur before sprinting to the front midway down the straight and holding off the late challenge of Lucky Hussler ($7) by a head, with The Cleaner ($16) holding on for third a further 1.25 lengths away.

Tourneur said it was particularly special to ride his first Group 1 in Melbourne for Stokes.

“It’s a terrific feeling and particularly to do it with Phillip who has been a terrific support of mine,” Tourneur said.

“The horse has been brilliant to us. His record should read better than it is but and he was a bit friendless (in the betting) today and he’s come out and shown us what he’s made of.

“I managed to peel off and get a nice run and once I pulled out I thought he’d be very hard to run down.”


Terravista top of the world

Maybe Joe Pride was right after all. The Sydney trainer’s star galloper Terravista laid claims for recognition as the world’s premier speedster with victory in the $1 million Group 1 Darley Classic at Flemington.

The five-year-old, who Pride describes as the best horse he has trained, defeated Chautauqua and Lankan Rupee in the 1200-metre event that was the best gathering of sprinters in Australia this year.

Multiple Group 1-winning Irish speedster Slade Power represented Europe, but was never a factor and beat home just two rivals.

The victory backed up a tweet Pride sent out earlier in spring – when he labelled Terravista the “world’s best sprinter”, a boast he later said was sent tongue-in-cheek – but he was thrilled to see the gelding live up to the high rating he has always had of him.

“I think he’s done the talking,” Pride said. “He’s world class, there’s no doubt about that.

“I’ve known all along that this is the best horse I’ve ever trained. I’ve been bullish about him and that’s the way I play the game.

“I just loved seeing him pull it off today. He’s a world class sprinter and he’s ready to take on the world.”

The five-year-old son of Captain Rio turned in one of the great straight-track performances, courtesy of a brave Hugh Bowman ride, to get the money in front of a crowd of 70,051.

Bowman weaved a path through the middle of the field from the rear to get the $10 chance home from $2.45 favourite Chautauqua.

“I didn’t expect to be that far back, but I know the horse and I was happy to ride him wherever he was comfortable,” Bowman said of Terravista, who has now won nine of his 13 starts and $1,166,005 in stakes.

“Mid-way through the race he was just smoking. It was just a case of finding room; he didn’t need much room, took a tight gap and was too good.”

Chautauqua lost few admirers with his effort, caught in traffic probably a little longer than Dwayne Dunn wanted before finishing off hard.

Lankan Rupee ($5) raced on the pace but couldn’t hold off the two rising stars, finishing a further three quarters of a length away third, clear of defending champion Buffering ($15).

Slade Power ($10) raced in a prominently on the fence, but was beaten a long way out and jockey Wayne Lordan said he didn’t handle the firming track, which was upgraded to a Good 2 after the running of the race.

Pride said the $2.5 million T.J. Smith Stakes in April would be Terravista’s major target next campaign, but said the way he handled the straight in the Darley Classic meant he would give consideration to a run in the $1 million Newmarket Handicap (1200m) in March.

“He’s done a pretty good job today, he’s picked up a pretty decent cheque, and the Sydney autumn is his next assignment but it’s possible he’ll be back here for a race like the Newmarket,” he said.


Set Square snares Crown Oaks

The least-experienced filly in the race and a jockey who has crafted an affinity with the Flemington 2500 metres combined to win Thursday’s $1 million Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m).

The Ciaron Maher-trained Set Square, with Hugh Bowman aboard, claimed the feature event of the third day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

The victory came at just the fourth start of a career that had a modest beginning in a 1354m maiden at Donald on 15 September, when she finished third, and was a second Group 1 success for Maher following Tears I Cry’s 2007 Emirates Stakes success.

The daughter of Reset only booked her spot in the race when she won the Listed Ethereal Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on 18 October – a victory that won connections the $55,000 they needed to pay the late entry for a start in the Oaks.

“She’s just been one out of the box,” Maher said. “Obviously she wasn’t in (nominated) and I didn’t even think she would actually get to the races this time around.

“As I was getting through her preparation she just started to lighten off a little bit but as soon as I told Ken King that she just thrived and here we are. It’s just unbelievable.”

Set Square made the most of an economical run three horses back along the fence to exert her strength over her rivals in the straight.

She embraced a gap when it appeared it at the 400m to take control of the race and then fought hard when challenged inside the final furlong by last Saturday’s Wakeful Stakes winner Thunder Lady.

Set Square, who started at $7.50, scored by 1.5 lengths from Thunder Lady ($10) with Golconda ($21) working home solid to claim third.

Lumosty ($5 to $4.40 fav, sixth) enjoyed a sweet run just behind the speed and looked poised to challenge at the top of the straight but failed to run out the 2500m, while Group 1 winner Go Indy Go ($5, seventh) remained in the second half of the field the entire race.

“Through the run I just had so much confidence,” Bowman said. “I was behind Lumosty, I felt it was the one to beat, and when the pressure went on about the 650 I was just in a perfect spot to pounce and I had the horse to deliver for me.”

It was the second Oaks success for Bowman, following Samantha Miss’s victory in 2008, and rests nicely alongside Victoria Derby wins on Sangster, Lion Tamer and Polanski in between Oaks victories.

The star Sydney rider was denied what would have been a fourth Derby victory last Saturday, aboard Preferment, following a suspension incurred on Caulfield Cup Day, but was thrilled to emerge from the Carnival with a feature win.

“To regroup and come back here and win a major I’m very proud, because I was really disappointed with what happened,” he said.

“But that’s racing and we all know safety is paramount and at the end of the day it’s just great to be here.

“This is a great distance for me, that’s five Group 1s now at the distance and it’s such an honour to get the opportunities to ride these good horses in these races.”