One of the biggest days in the racing calendar has now passed, with Derby Day at Flemington heralding the start of the four-day Melbourne Cup carnival.
There were three Group 1s, headlined by Australia’s oldest star race, the $2million Victoria Derby (2,500m for the three-year-old). In fact, all nine Victoria Derby Day races hold group status, the only meeting in Australia where this is the case.
The Group 3 Lexus Archer Stakes were second on the schedule – with the winner traditionally earning a place in the 24-hp Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.
But Surefire, trained by heavy favorite Chris Waller, had not been nominated for the big race, meaning he was not eligible to compete on Tuesday.
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Surefire duly won the 2,500m race, after six horses were eliminated on Saturday morning and two were sent off on Friday, leaving some wondering if he should have had a chance in the Melbourne Cup.
But foreman Joe Taylor said: “He’s a horse that’s been here for a while. And as we have seen, it keeps improving with each progression. As you say, it could still be 12 months away.
Instead, Serpentine earned a place in the field by finishing second to seven-time Melbourne Cup owner Lloyd Williams. Nick Williams has indicated that Serpentine will take his place with jockey John Allen to ride. Allen was previously booked for Alegron in the Melbourne Cup but will likely miss the final pitch.
“Yeah, he’ll run away, why not?” He was good,” Williams said.
“It seems like the farther and farther he goes, the better he will get.”
Crystal Pegasus, another Waller entry, also raced in the Archer Stakes and is unlikely to fall back on Tuesday despite finishing third.
One of the biggest names to be struck from the Archer Stakes was Realm of Flowers formed by Sam and Anthony Freedman, who looked set to have a strong chance of at least last year’s Melbourne Cup before falling ill.
The mare was already likely to climb into one of the bottom Cup places without needing to win today, so co-trainer Sam Freedman revealed to Racing.com: “We are taking a bit of a risk. “We wanted to take the punt. She’s very effective in that kind of break. She’s shown that in the past she seemed to fly home. You had to take the risk, hopefully it pays off.”
“We wanted to give her that breakthrough in the Cup (but) she would have been extremely difficult to beat today.”
‘INCREDIBLE’ STUNS IN THE VICTORIA DERBY
Elsewhere, Manzoice came home strong to win the $2million Penfolds Victoria Derby, beating favorite Sharp ‘N’ Smart.
The Kiwi haul had won its last three and it looked like James McDonald was going to make it four in a row until Michael Dee added another classic win to his resume.
“I was very happy at first, then I went out for a bit of running and it got a little tricky out there,” Dee said. Channel 10 after race.
“From about a mile we were pushed by horses in and out, and we were just able to squeeze out. He really fell hard.
Manzoice was rough for the run but considered a decent chance of a win, starting from barrier seven which allowed Dee to find his footing in midfield and prepare for a late push.
That’s exactly what happened too, with Dee expressing his gratitude to coach Chris Waller after the result.
“It’s amazing,” he said.
“I really have to think about Chris Waller and his team. Once again he presented this horse here in top form. As I walked around the yard, I thought it was definitely a Derby-type horse.
“He’s so calm, he has such a big stride on him, and it all came together really strong. If you told me before this spring that I would have two big Group 1 races coming up, I would probably laugh. But it’s quite surreal, and I hope it can continue.
CUMMINGS CELEBRATES A DOMINANT VICTORY
Earlier, In Secret were far too good for their rivals in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington.
It gives James McDonald and James Cummings another Group 1 winner for Carnival after hitting with Anamoe in the Cox Plate and Golden Mile in the Caulfield Guineas.
Roughie C’est Magique ($41) rode a great run to finish second, while Buenos Noches jumped from last to finish third ahead of Lofty Strike.
Second favorite Jacquinot finished 9th a few 4L behind the winner.
“I knew my job, I had to come together to get a place fairly quickly instead of sliding into that place, it was very important to get that place for my chances of winning, because it turned out that she won by a margin,” said jockey McDonald. after the victory.
“I was confident with her but I was a little hesitant about how the track was going to unfold. She just put them to the wire. She’s a dominant filly.
Winning coach James Cummings, meanwhile, said it was a “good feeling” to win the race after missing Everest, adding that she would “probably” enter the event as the favorite l ‘next year.
“She was five weeks away from the Golden Rose, she’s just a weapon, she put them away, walking away on the line,” he said.
“You don’t see that often in the Coolmore, it’s like the Golden Slipper carnival of spring for three-year-olds.” We bided our time with In Secret and the five weeks off didn’t faze her. “
75,000 fans are expected in Flemington for the big day. The track was rated Soft 7 on Saturday morning after 3.6mm of rain fell in the previous 24 hours. Minimal rain is expected.
Follow all the action in our live blog below!
ULTIMATE GUIDE: Everything you need to know before the Melbourne Cup
SATURDAY: Derby Day and Golden Eagle form guide and tips
Anamoe wins the Cox Plate | 00:27
1: Issues of the 10 Carbine Club network
1st – 11 Perfect Thought (9)
2nd – 6 Elkington Road (11)
3rd – 4 The Fortune Teller (12)
4th – 8 Watadeel (10)
2: Lexus Archer Stakes
1st – 8 Infallible (7)
2nd – 9 Serpentines (10)
3rd – 4 Pegasus Crystal (3)
4th – 5 Warning (9)
3: Paramount+ Rising Fast Stakes
1st – 9 Argentia (7)
2nd – 8 Triple Missiles (12)
3rd – 1 The Astrologer (2)
4th – 2 Beau Rossa (5)
4: Wakeful Running and Sports Stakes
1st – 6 Zennzella (14)
2nd – 2 Pavitra (2)
3rd – 8 Over time (1)
4th – 10 Queen Air (7)
5: TAB Linlithgow Stakes
1st – 8 Old Flame (2)
2nd – 14 Poland (15)
3rd – 6 Battleship (10)
4th – 9 Wild Planet (5)
6: Coolmore Stud Stakes
1st – 15 In secret (9)
2nd – 17 It’s Magic (11)
3rd – 6 Buenos Noches (15)
4th – 4 Noble Strike (5)
7: Derby Penfolds Victoria
1st – 7 Manzoice (8)
2nd – 1 Sharp ‘n’ Smart (3)
3rd – 17 Aberfeldie (2)
4th – 4 Mr. Maestro (17)
8: TAB Empire Rose Stakes
1st – 1 ice bath (5)
2nd – 6 Mirra Vision (18)
3rd – 5 Excelida (6)
4th – 14 The Creek (10)
9: Furphy Sprint
1st – 2 Asfoora (2)
2nd – 16 Veranskova (9)
3rd – 15 Sneaky Paige (5)
4th – 3 Zapateo (17)