The Japanese have proven again what a force they are in the ranks of world staying races with the powerful victory of Admire Rakti in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup over 2400 metres; Rising Romance, perfectly ridden by James McDonald, looked all over a winner when she was well-clear with 200 metres to go but Admire Rakti with champion jockey Zac Purton in the saddle came with giant strides to snatch victory in the shadows of the post. Rising Romance was gallant in-defeat while favourite Lucia Valentina had a hard run and she did well to finish third. Japanese horses have not raced in Australia since Delta Blues and Pop Rock totally dominated the 2006 Melbourne Cup and Admire Rakti is a big chance to give Japan more Melbourne Cup glory. The festive mood was dampened by the tragic deaths during the week of Caitlin Forrest and Carly-Mae Pye and it highlights yet again the risks taken by jockeys so that we can all enjoy The Sport of Kings.
Read more: Plenty To Admire In Rakti's Caulfield Cup Win
On a spectacular day of racing at Caulfield the Group 1 winners were Shooting To Win, Fawkner, Amicus and Trust In A Gust; in a strong edition of the Caulfield Guineas for three year olds over 1600 metres Shooting To Win proved a shade too good for Rich Enuff with Wandjina in third place. Rich Enuff was sensationally-backed into odds-on and he looked a big chance to give trainer Ken Keys his first Group 1 but Shooting To Win with James McDonald aboard came with a perfectly-timed run to spoil a fairy-tale result for Keys and Rich Enuff. Peter and Paul Snowden have decided to keep Shooting To Win for the Autumn when he can be followed with confidence. Fawkner (pictured above) was a very strong winner of the WFA Caulfield Stakes over 2000 metres and he is now a clear-cut favourite for the Cox Plate in which he will take a lot of beating.
Read more: Shooting To Win's Caulfield Guineas
Lucia Valentina is now clear-cut favourite for the Caulfield Cup on Saturday week after her brilliant performance to win the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes over 2000 metres at Flemington; not only did Lucia Valentina overcome a bruised sole but she also had to overcome a poor record on good tracks leading into the Turnbull. Given the unwanted injury concern during the week it was a great training performance by Kris Lees to have her fit enough to win such a prestigious race. Lucia Valentina was given a perfect Kerrin McEvoy ride and when McEvoy extricated her into the clear Lucia Valentina easily ran down Peter Moody's Lidari and Brambles. Lucia Valentina will only carry 51kg in the Caulfield Cup and she has now proven that she can handle all track conditions.
Read more: Lucia Confirms Caulfield Cup Credentials
Darren Weir trained his first Group 1 in Victoria courtesy of the courageous victory by Trust In A Gust in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes over 1400 metres at Caulfield; multiple Group 1 winner Dissident looked certain to win when he ranged-up to Trust In A Gust. Ben Melham had to stop riding to straighten Dissident and Trust In A Gust took full advantage of this and he got the bob-in to defeat Dissident by a short half-head. Trust In A Gust gave his outstanding young jockey Damien Lane his first Group 1 after withstanding a protest lodged by Melham for interference at the 1200 metre mark. Trust In A Gust has come a long way in a short time and his winning run may not be over. Dissident was gallant in defeat and if he can maintain this level of performance he will continue to be very competitive in every race he contests for the remainder of the Spring.
Read more: Gust Gives Darren Weir First Victorian Group 1
It was another red-letter day for Chris Waller who trained both Group 1 winners on Saturday; Sacred Falls continued his love-affair with the Randwick 1600 when he collected his third Group 1 in winning the George Main Stakes at Randwick courtesy of a perfect ride from champion jockey Zac Purton. Sacred Falls is now at the head of markets for the Cox Plate and based on his second to It's A Dundeel in the Queen Elizabeth he is a genuine chance. At Caulfield the Group 1 Underwood Stakes was won by Waller's war-horse Foreteller; this was Foreteller's third Group 1 after winning last year's Ranvet Stakes and Makybe Diva Stakes and it was due mainly to a copybook Glen Boss ride.
Read more: More Group 1 Glory For Chris Waller
Undefeated colt Hallowed Crown proved a shade too good for his fellow three year olds in winning the Golden Rose at Rosehill and in the process he gave Bart Cummings and his grand-son James their first Group 1 as a training partnership; Hallowed Crown came into the Golden Rose with impeccable credentials having won impressively at each of his three previous starts. Perfectly ridden by Hugh Bowman from an outside barrier Hallowed Crown stormed-home in the straight to wear down Scissor Kick and win by a long head with a further length and a quarter to Shooting To Win in third place. Hallowed Crown was having only his second run since April and he must be greatly respected in every race he contests this Spring.
Read more: Bart And James' Golden Rose Crown
Tasmania's pride and joy The Cleaner was far too strong for his rivals in the Group 2 Dato' Tan Chin Nam Stakes over 1600 metres at Moonee Valley; The Cleaner was perfectly rated in front by new rider Steven Arnold, not going as fast early as he usually does and it left him with plenty in the tank to hold-on against the best field he had met. The Cleaner has a career record of forty-two starts for seventeen wins, ten seconds and two thirds and there can be no doubt now that he is the best horse from the Apple Isle since Sydeston. The Cleaner is arguably the most popular horse racing in Australia today and he is an absolute credit to his trainer Mick Burles. It is unlikely that The Cleaner will win next month's Cox Plate but there will not be a dry eye in the house if he manages to pull it off.
Read more: Pride Of Tasmania Cleans Up Rivals In Dato'
Peter Moody's Dissident destroyed his rivals in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes at Caulfield; Sweet Idea went fast to lead the weight-for-age contest over 1400 metres from Moment Of Change with Dissident box-seating in third place. Craig Newitt went for home on Sweet Idea at the top of the straight but she had no answer when Ben Melham called upon Dissident and he strode away to win by two and a half-lengths from Sweet Idea. Dissident had shown great promise in each previous preparation winning the Blue Diamond Preview at his first start, running a great second to Zoustar in the Golden Rose and winning the Randwick Guineas in the Autumn; Dissident's win in the Memsie was at another level again and the sky is the limit for the four year old this Spring.
Read more: Dissident's Dazzling Display In Memsie
On a red-letter day for Joe Pride his old war-horse Tiger Tees proved far too good for his rivals in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes over 1400 metres at Randwick; Tiger Tees was perfectly suited by the wet conditions and a lack of early tempo but it was still a great run by the seven year old which recorded its thirteenth career victory. There was nothing wrong with the performances of Royal Descent, Criterion, Sacred Falls and Hawkspur but all honours were with Tiger Tees on the day; it has been a great training performance by Pride to have Tiger Tees racing in such great form at this stage of his career. Tiger Tees was the third leg of four winners for Pride with Rock Sturdy, Terravista and Diamond Oasis being his other winners on the best day of Pride's training career.
Read more: Tiger Tees Too Tough In Warwick Stakes
The Morgan/Widdison-trained Star Rolling had shown a good deal of potential in his short career and based on his narrow first-up victory in the Group 2 P B Lawrence Stakes over 1400 metres at Caulfield Star Rolling is going to fully realise his potential this preparation; now a five year old Star Rolling's career record stands at five wins and two placings from twelve starts. Star Rolling sat outside Zamorar and after quickly going by that galloper early in the straight Star Rolling then had to withstand a late challenge from Spillway. Much was expected of favourite Puissance De Lune but he finished an ordinary sixth; Puissance De Lune was only beaten 2.4 lengths over a journey short of his best and it was his first run since he was injured in last year's Cox Plate so his effort can be excused.
Read more: Star Rolling Bursts Puissance Bubble