It would be remiss of me not to start this week's edition of Racing Roundup with the magnificent victory of Hawks Bay in the Darwin Cup. The atmosphere at Fannie Bay racecourse was incredible, and when Hawks Bay and the favourite Bolton settled down for a titanic struggle over the last 200 metres, the noise from the crowd was deafening. Bolton, carrying 7.5kg less than Hawks Bay looked certain to win, but Hawks Bay, superbly ridden by former Territorian Steven Arnold, carrying the huge impost of 64.5kg, fought back in a manner very rarely seen to snatch victory by a nose. It was Hawks Bay's second victory in the race, having also won the race in 2011 carrying only 62kg! As a dual winner, and carrying the highest winning weight in the history of the race, this Neil Dyer trained gelding deserves to be rated the best winner of the Darwin Cup ever.
Earlier in the day the Envirobank Invitation Plate was won by the Stephen Brown trained gelding Alert the Jeweller; this horse is owned by a fabulous group of ladies who form the Women in Racing Syndicates. When Alert the Jeweller dashed away in the straight, the commotion created by its 36 owners shook the Fannie Bay grandstand to its foundations. This horse has now won its last three starts in Darwin, and judging by this performance, Alert the Jeweller will continue to win races, and give the ladies a lot more opportunities to celebrate! The Palmerston Sprint was run on Saturday and won by the Jarrod McLean trained galloper Youbolt, who upstaged its more fancied rivals by winning at 50 to 1. Dubawi Gold and Dream Face were very honest and ran the placings, but Youbolt, ridden by star apprentice Jackie Beriman, proved too good in the run to the line. This has been my first adventure to the Top End, and it will most emphatically not be my last. For those of you who have not experienced Darwin, the Darwin Cup Carnival, or the Northern Territory before, make coming in 2013 a priority! Some excellent performances were also observed in other parts of Australia on Saturday. Almost certainly the best horse from Saturday's meetings is the Chris Waller trained Said Com; having run Mosheen to a narrow margin in the Randwick Guineas earlier in the year stamped this horse as a future star. He did not let his supporters who took the short odds down by winning well. This horse has real talent which should see him very competitive in races like the Epsom Handicap; don't be surprised if even bigger targets are also on his agenda. Moonee Valley, race 1 The very heavily backed King's Pardon in the first race at Moonee Valley let his supporters down badly by finishing a distant last; however a post-race veterinary inspection revealed the colt had an upper respiratory disorder. This doesn't take the sting out of the result for those who backed him, but at least the horse can be forgiven, and should be seriously considered when he starts again, almost certainly after he is given time to recover. Moonee Valley, race 4 This race was won by the roughie Sassy Bay; unfortunately Imoto was a Saturday morning scratching. As Imoto appeared to have everything in its favour for this race; I assume it must have had a problem which prevented her from running. I have little doubt that she would have won this race, and won it easily, but it will be interesting to see if she goes around again in the near future. Moonee Valley, race 5 Streets Away, now trained by the prolific-winning Darren Weir, found his best form in a very gutsy win over track specialist Philda. Now that Streets Away has finally broken through, he could go on with the job and win again in another suitable race in the near future. Moonee Valley, race 6 First and second place here were taken by the Tasmanian-owned and trained pair of Banca Mo and The Cleaner respectively. The Cleaner ran well at his first Victorian appearance, but Banca Mo is in scintillating form at present, and another win or two is not beyond him this preparation if he maintains this form. The imported Buxted also ran well to claim third placing at his first Australian start, and can be expected to improve with this run under its belt. Moonee Valley, race 7 As written in Wizard's Early Mail, this race revolved around the performance of One Last Dance. Unfortunately for her supporters, she was not able to replicate the recent victory of Golden Archer who was successful after a long spell, by finishing a distant last. A post-race veterinary inspection of One Last Dance revealed that she was lame in the near fore leg; as she had not raced for 539 days before Saturday One Last Dance is a risky betting proposition until she returns to her form as a two-year old. The winner Freereturn has struck form with a vengeance since being freshened and returning to shorter distances. With this new lease of life, Freereturn is more than capable of winning again if suitably placed. Moonee Valley, race 8 The Peter Snowden-trained Glows won well first-up from a spell; ridden to perfection by Glen Boss, this mare has come back very well and should win again soon if suitably placed. Doomben, race 8 After the scratching of Imoto, Startsmeup was the only "good thing" remaining as identified in Wizard's Early Mail; after $1.85 was bet earlier in the week he was crunched thereafter to start at $1.55. Fortunately he proved way too good for his rivals, and caused little grief for those of you who took the short odds. Startsmeup has a placing in the weight-for-age Warwick Stakes from last year, so he is very capable of more victories. With the success of Queensland-trained gallopers over the Spring Carnival in recent years, don't be surprised to see a very competitive Startsmeup in Melbourne this Spring.