Spring Carnival Come-Down: Turbulent Week As Nation Intoxicated By Race Winners
November 10, 2014
Australian Racing’s Spring Carnival will officially finish at Sandown this weekend with the Group 2 Sandown Classic and the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes the main events of the meet. But with the huge races run and won it’s time to walk down memory lane.
As usual punters experienced the roller coaster while there were magic moments for connections and some pulsating photo finishes in gripping Group One races. We found new four legged favourites while we also cheered their riders to victory. Unfortunately though there were also tragedies, with the death of 2 Melbourne Cup runners souring the race that stops the nation. So what have we learned and what images will stick with us as we already begin the countdown to the 2015 Spring Carnival?
Internationals Invincible on Australian Soil
It was a triple treat for overseas horses as they dominated Melbourne’s feature races. Protectionist’s storming finish in the Melbourne Cup made it 3 from 3 after Admire Rakti and Adelaide took out the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate respectively. Having won the Football world Cup in Brazil in July Ze Germans were celebrating again after Protectionist became the sixth foreigner to win Australia’s biggest horse race. There is some consolation though with the stayer now remaining in the country after joining trainer Kris Lee’s Newcastle stable.
And while we’re on the internationals, spare a thought for the Cup’s perennial bridesmaid Red Cadeaux. Even us Aussies wouldn’t have begrudged the European Stallion if it’d won our Cup. Running the race for a fourth time he was a sentimental favourite for many. But at 9 years old surely he wouldn’t feature in the finish. How wrong we were, Big Red gave it another bold crack but once again a single horse beat it over the line. 3 runners ups in 4 attempts could Red Cadeaux come back and finally go one better… as a 10 year old?
Upsets on Oaks Day
The First Tuesday in November was quickly followed by Oaks Day with the Melbourne Cup Carnival truly taking off. But as usual Thursday at Flemington provided plenty of upsets as favourites fell time after time. $50 Pop You Rock certainly rocked punters in race 2 leaving the bookmakers licking their lips early. The Celebrating Greys Challenge was a spectacular sight and jockey Damian Lane produced a spectacular ride in the race run only by grey horses. His mount Secret Toy Bizness was first passed the post after jumping at around $13.
There was drama at the gates before the Crown Oaks got underway with favourite Lumosty vetted pre-race before taking its place in the barrier. But Lumosty failed to stay the distance as a raw filly in just her fourth career race ran out the 2500 metres. Set Square became the darling of the day after breaking clear with 200 metres left, to finish ahead of the gallant Thunder lady. Trainer Ciaron Maher is now daring to dream of next year’s Melbourne Cup.
Superb Sprinters Star on Emirates Stakes Day
We had to wait till late in the carnival to watch one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the spring. The field for the $1 Million Darley classic boasted 20 Group Ones and $20 million in prize money between them. Again there was an international ready to steal the show with Europe’s top sprinter Slade Power among the many hopes in the 1200 metre straight sprint. But it missed the kick, leaving Australia’s best to battle it out. Manikato Stakes winner Lankan Rupee led the way while old timer Buffering was also among the front runners. Rising star Chautauqua dropped towards the end of the field in its first group one with the favourite waiting for a run. But it was Terravista who burst through from the back to finish ahead of the pack. Chautauqua ran second after he got going late.
Hucklebuck proved his doubters wrong in the 1600 metre Emirates Stakes. Many thought he wouldn’t make the mile after a narrow defeat on Derby Day last year and a failed run as favourite in the Australian Guineas in March. But despite hitting the front a little early the gelding held off the fast finishing Lucky Hustler for its breakthrough Group One victory.
Sadly the Spring Carnival is coming to a close but race replays and thrilling climaxes will carry on in our thoughts for weeks to come. Now it’s time to sit back and pick your favourite moment, it’s not as easy as you think.