In overcast & cold conditions the
first stakes meeting of the season started off with a small field of 3
runners (after scratchings) in the 3yo handicap. However a brief
scan of the form interstate shows only 5 runners in a $100,000 3yo in
Sydney where there is a far larger pool of horses so leaves the question
on where the new season 3yos all are - hopefully soon to reappear over
the coming weeks and have just been delayed due to the very wet
conditions most major centres have experienced over the last few weeks.
Two runners were from the Tony McEvoy stable being the talented Jimando
who had run 4th in the Blue Diamond last preparation and the Dane Shadow
Colt Pharomac who had won at Murray Bridge and placed at Morphettville
at his two starts. The third runner was Daytona Grey from the
Macdonald Gluyas stable who had won at Balaklava and then run 4th at
group 3 level before a spell. Daytona Grey went to the lead early
from the McEvoy pair and this remained the pattern to the home straight
where Daytona Grey went for home and put a break on the others with
Jimando taking a while to warm up and Pharomac slowly gaining on the
leader. Daytona Grey continued going strongly but inside the final
100m Jimando hit his full stride coming away to win from Pharomac who
also finished hard leaving Daytona Grey third. In the second
race Montjeu Madame came into the race on a handful of unplaced runs on
slow tracks but in the closing stages showed her true form on todays
drier track to win going away from Ma Shang with Pretty Blonde in third.
The next was one of the features
on the card the SA Grand National Hurdle and by now there was a good
crowd up in the indoor areas of the stand who came out as the race
started. In the field of 6 (after two raceday scratchings) every
runner had been paced first or second at their previous start.
Favourite and topweight Gotta Take Care had had 9 jumps starts for 4
wins and 4 placings and was sent out favourite after a close second on
the flat at his previous start and a third in the Victorian Grand
National Hurdle prior to that. Lord of the Song had won 3 of his past 4
hurdle starts all wins coming at Morphettville and was currently second
on the SA Over the Rainbow Series points ladder and he had also had 9
starts for 4 wins and 4 placings over the jumps. Dubhdara from New
Zealand had a record of 5 starts for 3 wins and two placings and had
been second in the JJ Houlahan Hurdle at his previous start. Honour the
Force won a hurdle at Morphettville at his previous start taking his
record to 2 wins and 3 placings from 12 jump starts while Champion
Chestnut was the most experienced of the field having 22 jumps starts
for 2 wins and 9 placings including a second at his previous run.
Jockey Jack was the least experienced horse in the field with 7 jumps
starts for three placings and a win at his previous start. Lord of
the Song went to the lead from Dubhdara with Honour the Force and Jockey
Jack next with Gotta Take Care and Champion Chestnut at the back of the
pack. Around the turn Lord of the Song drew well ahead from
Dubhdara followed by Honour the Force and Gotta Take Care then Jockey
Jack and Champion Chestnut. Over the jump out of the straight Lord
of the Song led from Dubhdara and Gotta Take Care from Honour the Force
with Champion Chestnut moving up and putting Jockey Jack in a pocket at
the rear. Over the fourth last Lord of the Song led from Dubhdara as
Gotta Take Care made a mistake and fell (horse and rider were quickly up
and both were ok) as Honour the Force followed with Champion Chestnut
appearing to be inconvenienced by the fallen horse outside Jockey Jack.
Coming to the second last Lord of the Song tried to make a dash for
victory but starting to tire as Dubhdara started to run on from Honour
the Force as Champion Chestnut held Jockey Jack in a pocket near the
rails. Over the last Dubhdara put in his challenge making a huge
leap to take the lead from Lord of the Song as Champion Chestnut and
Jockey Jack challenged Honour the Force for the third position. In
the run to the line Dubhdara came away to win from Lord of the Song with
Honour the Force fighting hard to just stave off Jockey Jack for third.
In the next race Our Sphinx brought up the second win of the afternoon
for the Tony McEvoy/M Neilson combination in storming home in a carbon
copy of his previous win to take control and win as he liked from
Mahmentum with Conduction third. In the 5th race Riceman was at
least twice the age of every other runner and soon after the start was
eased back to last (under a very tight hold). As Mestari led to
the turn the field started to pack with Riceman still a clear last but
under a stranglehold by jockey J Frew. Around the turn Mestani led
with King Rodney making a run as Riceman strode around the field with
Fosseding Barnes trying to go with him. By the 200m Riceman had
swept to the lead as Monte Bella tried to give chase with Gauss making a
run between the others. Inside the final 50m Gauss came through on
the inside to challenge Riceman but the old horse lifted to hold the
challenger at bay to win by 3/4 length from Gauss with Monte Bella third
and Fosseding Barnes 4th. Riceman was having his 83rd start taking
his record to 16 wins 11 seconds and 6 third in a career which started
with a win as 3yo in Launceston in November 2003.
Katunga jumped well from the
outside barrier in the next but was still stuck 3 wide from the outset
sitting up in third place with Meadows Jim following his every move.
In the straight Katunga took over the lead with Meadows Jim the only
challenger who looked like the winner by the 200m. Katunga wasn't
done with though and fought back strongly on the inside and eventually
clawed back the front right on the line to win narrowly with Natural
Disaster running on for third. It was then time for the Group 3
Spring Stakes which featured 6 of the 11 runners returning from a spell
including Alcopop, Southern Speed and Happy Trails all looking towards
the Melbourne Spring carnival as their goal. Gossip Girl went to
the lead early from Light Express and Justify That with Alcopop,
Southern Speed and Happy Trails all in the second half of the field.
Around the turn the field went wide on the track with Gossip Girl in
front from Light Express with The Eighth Maker, Happy Trails and Alcopop
all going out wide to make their runs as Southern Speed tried to find
gaps through the field. By the 200m Gossip Girl fought off the
challenges to hold on to the front but it was Happy Trails that was
making the sustained run down the outside as others runners appeared to
bump into each other with Southern Speed going for the gap between them.
Inside the final 50m Happy Trails hit the lead as Gossip Girl tried to
fight back to no avail with the South Australian gelding winning by a
neck from Gossip Girl with Southern Speed a fast finishing third.
Happy Trails took his record to 24 starts for 3 wins and 10 placings and
had been less than two lengths away from More Joyous in the Doncaster in
Sydney at his previous start last April. Happy Trails is a
graduate of the Adelaide Magic Millions sale which also had the Listed
winner in Perth in Cavallo Pazzo (and both horses were sold at the same
sale in 2009).
The last race went to Draw Forward as the Richard Jolly stable quinella
it with Mr Good Cat second and another 12yo in Likable Will third.
Next week's feature race is the
South Australian Grand National Steeplechase as the jumps season rapidly
approaches the close for this season.