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  Post Office Box 67
  Fulham Gardens SA

  Phone: 0412 208 011

Flemington Races

Newmarket Hcp  day

6 March  2010


The day was billed as Super Saturday with the three big Group 1s of the Melbourne Autumn Carnival due to be run.  The fields had been discussed and analysed for weeks and today was the day for reputations to be proven or go by the wayside.  Coming in for landing on the plane that morning the skies over Port Phillip Bay looked ominous with a big black neverending cloud just sitting there - there had been a forecast for rain so what's the worst that could happen perhaps the chance of getting a bit wet if there was rain or a downpour? While travelling to the course it was humid and hot again another precursor to the chance of rain but once at Flemington the sun was out and the sky clear - except for that big dark cloud sitting off to one side of the course.

The first four races came and went in warm humid but sunny conditions and there were the first warnings of 'severe storm' heading towards Flemington.  For the Kewney Stakes the cloud cover rolled in and became dark but the big black cloud remained off to the side but it was as Takeover Target appeared for his farewell from Melbourne that it became noticeably darker and slightly cooler.  Rain was on its way - so as everyone prepared their wet weather gear the horses came out for the Newmarket Hcp.  Predictions were for the storm to hit after the race so as the skies darkened more and the horses headed out we all prepared for a downpour hoping the race would be over in time to find cover.  Then it got worse.  With the horses being loaded into the barriers and the photographers only metres from the spot at the finish line the lightning started in the distance in the black clouds.  By now it was so dark that the light was coming from the east even though it was nearly 3pm but that was a bizarre effect due to the big black cloud blocking out the sun and it felt like it was pre dawn not mid afternoon.  Takeover Target finished his exhibition gallop and returned back to the mounting yard and soon the Newmarket was run and won.  As the runners started to come back to the yard the rain started and was pouring by the time Wanted returned well after the others (see photos of race 6 below).  Wanted was unsaddled and as many of us found shelter from the rain the hail started to come in.  In the next 10 minutes the course was pelted with a mass of hailstones starting the size of marbles before then increasing to the size of golf balls that were bouncing over the placegetter stalls dividers. 

By the time the storm eased Flemington looked like it had snowed with the build up of hail against objects and all over the grass along with an eerie mist that extended up the racetrack and over the grassed public areas around the mounting yard.  It appeared the rain was about to ease but then it picked up again so with no chance of the ice on the track melting in time the final races were postponed and many tried to work out how to get out of Flemington as due to the flooding there were problems getting out of one of the main carparks and the trains were unable to be run (buses were put on later for patrons).  For those of us heading to the airport there was more problems that lay ahead - the airport was closed numerous times as the weather delayed flights from both taking off and landing.  We were lucky our plane was delayed but eventually left two hours late during which time the local news showed the chaos that flooding had caused through the Melbourne CBD.  Some flights were cancelled altogether.

As the plane shook its way through 10 minutes of turbulence after takeoff it was good to be on the way home but a nerve wracking flight til the return home to Adelaide who late in the afternoon had also suffered a storm but that was only winds and heavy downpour of rain (what some would consider was coming with a severe weather warning) nowhere near the intensity of what hit Melbourne.  Below are several photos of Flemington and one taken two hours after the stormfront passed and the hail stopped - it was relatively warm so it was very surprising that the hail had not melted in that time.       


Race 1 - Thoroughbred Breeders Stk - Group 3
Race 2 - Moomba Plate - Listed
Race 3 - VRC Sires Produce Stk - Group 2
Race 4 - VRC March Stk - Listed
Race 5 - AV Kewney Stk - Group 2
Race 6 - Newmarket Hcp -  Group 1
Takeover Target

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