Mourinho Kicks First Group 1 Goal For Gelagotis

Inglis graduates kicked goals across the country today winning a swag of black type at Rosehill and Caulfield, headlined by a thrilling victory by Mourinho in the Group 1 MRC Underwood Stakes.

In an electrifying finish Mourinho (Oratorio x Benevolent) came through the centre of the pack to win the Group 1 MRC Underwood Stakes over 1800m at Caulfield. With a bob of the head, Mourinho held off challenges from fellow Inglis graduate Fawkner and cult turf star The Cleaner, securing the first Group 1 win for his trainer Peter Gelagotis, and himself a start in next month’s Cox Plate.

An emotional Gelagotis was quick to thank Mourino’s large group of owners for their support and encouragement, saying “a gentleman once said to me it’s a privilege to be a horse trainer, and I think it’s a privilege to have a horse like Mourinho, and to work with the owners who are in the horse,”

“What do you say? It’s my first Group 1 winner, we’ve competed and we’ve really put our horse out there and we’ve backed ourselves and we’ve backed our horse,” said Gelagotis.

“There is a great group of owners who are in this horse, they are some of the most wonderful people on this earth, and they deserve the success because they live and breathe this sport.” Gelagotis said.

After missing out on acceptances for the 2014 Cox Plate, Mourinho will this year aim to emulate the feats of Northerly, and more recently Ocean Park and So You Think, which have successfully completed the Underwood Stakes/Cox Plate double.

Jockey Vlad Duric was impressed with Mourinho’s ability to push on and win, saying “God bless him, he’s a warrior!”

A $36,000 buy from the Little Wych draft at the 2009 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale for his part-owner Leo Tartaglione, Mourinho took his record to 11 wins and nine placings from 38 starts, and his earnings past $1.3 million with today’s win.

Stratum Stars in Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes

Stratum Star emerged as a quality stud prospect for the future when he powered home for a thrilling win in today’s Group One Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.

Just when it looked to be a race in two between the favourite Disposition and Under the Louvre, Stratum Star burst through between runners to score a breakthrough victory at racing’s elite level.

The lightly raced but highly promising galloper had run a string of outstanding placings including a last start third to Boban in the Memsie Stakes.

Trainer Darren Weir said the four-year-old would now progress to the Group One Toorak Handicap at Caulfield.

“That’s probably logically the next step,” Weir said. “It was just nice to get that one out the way.”

Stratum Star’s win provided another win at racing’s elite level for champion jockey Craig Williams.

“Full credit to the horse. He did all the running. He had to work from the outset, settle, be tight and got under pressure late – so full credit to Stratum Star,” Williams said.

“The horse stuck his head out. It was a great finish with three really good horses and I’m sure they’re in for some duels during the spring.”

Bred at Widden Stud, which stands his sire and fellow Magic Millions graduate Stratum, Stratum Star was sold through the Widden draft at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

He was selected and purchased for $165,000 at the Gold Coast by the now retired horseman Rick Hore-Lacy – the man who also trained future stallions Canny Lad, Dash for Cash, Kenny’s Best Pal, Clay Hero, Spartacus and the champion Redoute’s Choice.

Stratum Star raced just four times for Hore-Lacy as a two-year-old before he joined the stables of Darren Weir and the handsome chestnut has developed into a Group One performer.

He’s missed a place just once for Weir – when seventh just 2 lengths from the winner in the Regal Roller stakes at his first run this season.

Earlier this year he ran a brave third in the Australian Guineas, while he’s also been placed in a Sandown Guineas, Carbine Club Stakes, Alister Clark Stakes and CS Hayes Stakes.

He is one of two stakes performers produced by the lightly raced and placed Pins mare Purely Spectacular – a sister to Group One winner Raid and three quarter sister to stakes performer Pinstripe Lane.

Purely Spectacular’s other named foal is the Star Witness filly Serenade – third in Friday night’s Champagne Stakes at Moonee Valley.

Leading New Zealand based bloodstock agent Dean Hawthorne would have been delighted with today’s result.

Hawthorne purchased Purely Spectacularly carrying a full relation to Stratum Star at this year’s National Broodmare Sale on the Gold Coast. His $300,000 investment at the time is looking great value already!

Weights released for 2015 Emirates Melbourne Cup

Defending champion Protectionist and English star Snow Sky will need to break a 55-year hoodoo if they are to win this year’s $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) following the release of weights today by Racing Victoria (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter.

Protectionist, who delivered Germany its first Melbourne Cup win last year before being transferred to Newcastle trainer Kris Lees, and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Snow Sky share topweight of 58kg for the 3 November feature at Flemington Racecourse.

Carpenter explained that an original topweight has not won the Melbourne Cup since the Jim Cummings-trained Comic Court raced to victory in 1950 when carrying 59.5kg.

“There have been 22 original topweights contest the Melbourne Cup since Comic Court’s win in 1950 and none have placed so Protectionist and Snow Sky would rightfully earn their place among the Cup’s true greats if they were to be successful,” Carpenter said.

“The handicap presents a challenge to both Protectionist and Snow Sky, however they have earned their position at the heads of the weights based on their performances over the past 12 months.

“Protectionist was a dominant winner of last year’s Melbourne Cup carrying 56.5kg and rises 1.5kg for this year’s renewal, while Snow Sky is the highest rated horse in the field having won the coveted Hardwicke Stakes (2400m) in emphatic fashion at this year’s Royal Ascot Carnival.”

Protectionist is striving to join Makybe Diva (2003, 04, 05), Think Big (1974, 75), Rain Lover (1968, 69), Peter Pan (1932, 34) and Archer (1861, 62) as the only multiple winners of the Melbourne Cup.

Carpenter explained that he had rated Aidan O’Brien’s breathtaking Irish St Leger (2800m) winner Order of St George the equal of Protectionist and Snow Sky when allotting the young star 54kg.

“Order of St George could not have been more impressive winning the Irish St Leger on Sunday by 11 lengths and the 54kg I have allotted him as a northern hemisphere three-year-old is the same as 58kg for an older horse with both being 1.5kg below the weight-for-age benchmark,” Carpenter said.

Order of St George is one of four entries for O’Brien who has had not a Cup runner since 2008. Bondi Beach and Fields of Athenry, who were first and third in Saturday’s English St Leger, have been weighted on 52.5kg and 51kg respectively, whilst Ascot Gold Cup runner-up Kingfisher has 53kg.

Japan’s current favourite Fame Game and a pair of 10-year-olds pursuing their fifth Cup start, Red Cadeaux and Precedence, were the other three to command interest with the release of the weights.

Fame Game, who is chasing Japan’s second Melbourne Cup win, has been allocated 57kg with Rain Lover (1969, 60.5kg), Think Big (1975, 58.5kg), Gold And Black (1977, 57kg) and Makybe Diva (2005, 58kg) the only winners to have carried 57kg or more in the past 50 years.

Three-time runner-up and crowd favourite Red Cadeaux has been allocated 55kg – thus meeting Protectionist 3.5kg better for his defeat in last year’s Cup; whilst the James Cummings-trained Precedence has dropped to 52kg having carried 54.5kg to a career-best sixth placing in 2014.

Precedence is one of 71 entries who are yet to pass the ballot and need to perform over the next seven weeks to secure a start. He will attempt to do so by winning the race named in honour of his former trainer, The Bart Cummings (2500m), at Flemington on Sunday, 4 October.

Other notable entries and their weights are;
• Criterion (57.5kg) – 2015 Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner who returns to Australia on 26 September after campaigning in Hong Kong and Europe;
• Our Ivanhowe (56kg) – Highly rated German import who spearheads multiple Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Lee Freedman’s return to the premier race;
• Big Orange (55.5kg) – A rising star of English racing with wins in this year’s Princess of Wales’s Stakes and Goodwood Cup;
• Hartnell (55.5kg) – The BMW winner who leads Godolphin’s pursuit of a maiden Melbourne Cup victory. Finished unplaced as favourite in the 2015 Sydney Cup when carrying 52kg;
• Hokko Brave (55.5kg) – Second of the Japanese entrants who has been a resident fixture in Japan’s premier staying races and will be ridden by local star Craig Williams;
• Max Dynamite (55kg) – Brilliant winner of the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup who, like 1993 Melbourne Cup winner Vintage Crop, arrives from Ireland with a mixture of flat and jumps racing form;
• Mongolian Khan (55kg) – Australian and New Zealand Derby winner who is the highest weighted southern hemisphere four-year-old in the race;
• Trip to Paris (55kg) – 2015 Ascot Gold Cup winner and stablemate of Red Cadeaux;
• Who Shot Thebarman (54.5kg) – Melbourne and Sydney Cup placegetter who drops 0.5kg on the weight he carried to third placing in the 2014 Melbourne Cup; and
• Grand Marshal (53.5kg) – An upset winner of the 2015 Sydney Cup carrying 52kg. Won the 2800m handicap at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day 2014.

The full list of weights for the 2015 Emirates Melbourne Cup are available here.

Australian Racehorse of the Year finalists announced

The finalists for the seven award categories at the 2015 BMW Australian Racehorse of the Year Awards have been revealed today, setting the stage for yet another intriguing battle for the title of the nation’s top galloper.

Racing’s night of nights, to be held on Thursday, 8 October at the MCG, will commence with the official launch of the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival before the individual category winners and the overall BMW Australian Racehorse of the Year is announced.

Voted on by a national group of racing media and handicappers, the awards take into account performances by all horses on Australian tracks as well as international performances by Australian-trained horses during the 2014/2015 racing season from 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015.

The five finalists in each category are the horses which have obtained the most votes, with each of these finalists eligible for the BMW Australian Racehorse of the Year Award.

Hall of Fame trainer Gai Waterhouse boasts two finalists in the Champion Two-Year-Old of the Year Award, with Golden Slipper-winning colt Vancouver and the talented English acknowledged for their stand-out seasons on the track. Peter and Paul Snowden’s Pride of Dubai, impressive Champagne Stakes-winner Pasadena Girl and Press Statement round out the two-year-old nominations.

A quality quintet of fillies have been nominated for the New Zealand Bloodstock Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of the Year Award including star West Australian Delicacy, John Thompson’s First Seal, and Oaks winners Gust of Wind, Set Square and Winx.

The Champion Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding of the Year Award boasts an impressive line-up of finalists – three of which are currently enjoying their first season in the breeding barn. Recently retired stallions Brazen Beau, Hallowed Crown and Wandjina were recognised for their impressive three-year-old seasons, as were Doncaster Mile winner Kermadec and dual-nation Derby winner Mongolian Khan.

Reigning Australian Racehorse of the Year Lankan Rupee is one of five sprinters nominated for the Inglis Bloodstock Champion Sprinter of the Year Award title alongside Group 1-winning speedsters Brazen Beau, Chautauqua, Terravista and recently crowned Victorian Racehorse of the Year, Dissident.

In the Champion Middle Distance Racehorse of the Year Award category, 2014 Cox Plate winner Adelaide will battle it out with fellow internationally-bred galloper Contributer and star Australians Criterion, Dissident and Fawkner.

The 2014 Emirates Melbourne Cup quinella of Protectionist and Red Cadeaux have both been nominated for the Champion Stayer of the Year Award alongside fellow international and 2014 Caulfield Cup victor Admire Rakti. John O’Shea’s Hartnell and dual Group 1 winner Delicacy are the Australian representatives.

And in the Champion Jumper of the Year Award, evergreen steeplechaser Bashboy is one of five finalists alongside Thubiaan, Vatuvei, Lord Of The Song and Regina Coeli.

The category finalists, in alphabetical order, are as follows;

Champion Two-Year-Old of the Year Award
English
Pasadena Girl
Press Statement
Pride of Dubai
Vancouver

New Zealand Bloodstock Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of the Year Award
Delicacy
First Seal
Gust of Wind
Set Square
Winx

Champion Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding of the Year Award
Brazen Beau
Hallowed Crown
Kermadec
Mongolian Khan
Wandjina

Inglis Bloodstock Champion Sprinter of the Year Award
Brazen Beau
Chautauqua
Dissident
Lankan Rupee
Terravista

Champion Middle Distance of the Year Award
Adelaide
Contributer
Criterion
Dissident
Fawkner

Champion Stayer of the Year Award
Admire Rakti
Delicacy
Hartnell
Protectionist
Red Cadeaux

Champion Jumper of the Year Award
Bashboy
Lord Of The Song
Regina Coeli
Thubiaan
Vatuvei

The finalists for the overall BMW Australian Racehorse of the Year will be announced at the Awards night.

Bart Cummings Passes Away

Racing Victoria (RV) Chairman, David Moodie, has issued the following statement on the news of the peaceful passing overnight of trainer James Bartholomew ‘Bart’ Cummings OAM, aged 87.

“On behalf of the entire Victorian thoroughbred racing industry, I wish to express our deepest condolences to Valmae and the Cummings family on the passing of a true legend of Australian sport,” Mr Moodie said.

“Bart Cummings has left an indelible mark on the Victorian racing industry having achieved an unparalleled record in our biggest races and his memory will live long as part of racing folklore.

“Bart’s horsemanship and training achievements were both respected and admired by his peers and he transcended racing to capture the hearts and imagination of the Australian public.

“Today is a sad day for Victorian racing, but one on which we also fondly remember and celebrate the amazing achievements of Bart Cummings.”

Bart Cummings was one of the inaugural inductees into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2001 and was elevated to Legend status in 2008. He shares the Legend title with fellow trainer Tommy Smith, jockeys Scobie Breasley and George Moore, and champion horses Phar Lap, Carbine and Makybe Diva.

Bart Cummings trained a record 12 Melbourne Cup winners – Light Fingers (1965), Galilee (1966), Red Handed (1967), Think Big (1974-75), Gold And Black (1977), Hyperno (1979), Kingston Rule (1990), Let’s Elope (1991), Saintly (1996), Rogan Josh (1999) and Viewed (2008).

Amongst Bart Cummings’ other feature race successes in Victoria were a record 13 Australian Cups, 11 Mackinnon Stakes, nine VRC Oaks, eight Newmarket Handicaps, seven Caulfield Cups, six VRC Derbies, five Cox Plates and five Caulfield Guineas.

The Bart Cummings, a 2500-metre handicap, is run in his honour at Flemington on Turnbull Stakes Day each October. For the first time this year, the winner of The Bart Cummings, to be run on Sunday, 4 October, will gain automatic entry into the 2015 Emirates Melbourne Cup.

The Bart Cummings Award, honouring the person who trains the most Group 1 winners nationwide for the season, will be presented four days later at the 2015 Australian Racehorse of the Year Awards in Melbourne on Thursday night, 8 October.