Flemington Review from Ray Hickson

Race 1: Taj Rossi Series Final (1600m)

1st Automatic Choice – Darren Gauci 2nd El Greco – Damien Oliver 3rd Flying Light – Harry Coffey

Bengal Cat was fired out from the outside alley and crossed to the fence before handing up to Ayda and Automatic Choice who rushed forward to avoid being trapped wide. Ma Raison enjoyed a nice run just behind them and Party Boy settled next. Gungastruck was about midfield followed by Parmalove and Ayers Rock. El Greco was well back early after being tightened. They packed right up coming to the turn with six across the track closing in on Ayda, who had made it to the fence with Automatic Choice on the outside. Ma Raison looked poised and Triple Effort swept up widest on the track. Automatic Choice took over by the 300m and had Ma Raison and Gungastruck, the immediate challengers, covered. El Greco had improved behind them and come off the back of Gungastruck to start his run. Bengal Cat got up on the inside of the leader and had her chance. Automatic Choice just kept kicking as El Greco and Flying Light, further out, closed in and he held them off. El Greco was a little unlucky but the winner was there to be beaten. No excuses also for Bengal Cat and a nice run from Royal Rumble getting home from the back into fifth place.

Follow: longer term El Greco and Royal Rumble.

Race 2: Creswick Series Final (1200m)

1st Illustrious Lad – Craig Williams 2nd Sang Choi Bao – Jake Noonan 3rd Rough Justice – Damien Oliver

Mohave took it up near the middle of the track with Face Forward up handy. Rough Justice settled just behind them as did HussonEagle, who had Valderrama on his outside. Illustrious Lad followed Rough Justice while Sang Choi Bao sat at the back around Hell On Earth. Mohave seemed to travel okay in front but by the 400m was being asked to respond. Rough Justice went to his inside and Illustrious Lad came on to his outside as Face Forward started to struggle. Husson Eagle looked set to chime in but he went backwards very quickly and Sang Choi Bao swept down the outside. Illustrious Lad got to Rough Justice with 100m to run and had to hold off the challenge of Sang Choi Bao, which he did but not with a lot to spare. Solid effort from Rough Justice. Hell On Earth ran out of his skin to finish just behind the placings while a couple of bubbles burst with Valderrama and Husson Eagle finishing at the back.

Follow: none.

Race 3: Leilani Series Final (1400m)

1st Jessy Belle – Craig Williams 2nd Niminypiminy – Chris Parnham 3rd Smokin’ Al – Michael Dee

Mamwaazel jumped very quickly but didn’t want the front and Written came across to take it up with Smokin’ Al. Jessy Belle was stuck three wide with Sino Eagle holding her there and Miss Rose De Lago landed in a good spot. Niminypiminy found the back of Jessy Belle in the middle stages. Written was giving a good sight as she kicked clear past the 400m. Mamwaazel had plenty of room on the inside but couldn’t go through, Smokin’ Al sticking on and Jessy Belle was being held together as Niminypiminy loomed on her outside. Sino Eagle and Miss Rose De Lago were both struggling to pick up. They started to get to Written by the clock tower and Smokin’ Al raised an effort to go with Jessy Belle and they hit the lead together at the 100m. Jessy Belle, despite a wide run, is racing in great form and she finished it off a little better. Niminypiminy made a late dive at Jessy Belle but missed and well and truly had her chance. Smokin’ Al held on for third. A couple from the back ran on nicely when it was all over in Leia and Dig A Pony. Couldn’t find an excuse for Miss Rose De Lago other than maybe her previous start took too much out of her.

Follow: perhaps Dig A Pony could pick a race up.

Race 4: Country Cup Final (2000m)

1st Falago – Craig Williams 2nd Clairvaux – Craig Newitt 3rd Seattleite – Sally Wynne

Clairvaux was slowest out and settled a couple of lengths off the pack. Orientaped was sent forward from a wide gate and crossed to lead then Onpicalo ran up outside him. Tristram’s Sun had the box seat and Seattleite held a handy spot. Soon after Onpicalo ran to the lead. Refulgent wasn’t settling between Falago and Shikarpour in midfield. Onpicalo wasn’t overly pressured in front to the turn as Orientaped was being niggled a length away but they were moving up out wider with Seattleite, Falago and the jumper Vatuvei striding forward five deep. Tristram’s Sun got a rails run and Refulgent was in behind the leading bunch. Clairvaux was brought right to the outside but was still last at the 400m. Shikarpour got a run between Tristram’s Sun and Onpicalo but Seattleite chimed in with Falago to head them. Falago sprinted away from that bunch and had too big a break for the fast-finishing Clairvaux closing off hard late. Seattleite fought on nicely to hold a place just head of Shikarpour and Refulgent while King’s Palace made some late ground. Hard to make an excuse for anything as the winner sat wide and raced clear.

Follow: stay with Clairvaux.

Race 5: Silver Bowl Final (1600m)

1st Raposo – Brad Rawiller 2nd Plan – Craig Newitt 3rd Liberty Island – Glen Boss

He’s A Given went a bit hard in the early stages as he sped to the lead over Plan, getting across, and Liberty Island holding the box seat. Beau Pedrille was in the clear behind them with Cool and Duke Of Brunswick both in good spots. Raposo went right back near the tail. They seemed to get along at a good tempo here and coming to the turn a few were making runs. Sneferu was widest and he flushed Duke Of Brunswick and Beau Pedrille out but the leaders still had a kick. Plan moved to He’s A Given at the 400m. Cool tried to hold Liberty Island in a pocket but he managed to get across heels. Duke Of Brunswick was trying to wind up but didn’t seem to be making an impact and Raposo was weaving through the pack. Plan dashed away past the 200m and Liberty Island couldn’t match him but Raposo was really hitting the line and got between them, finishing over the top of Plan to win. Liberty Island had his chance in third. Beau Pedrille stuck on and was in a blanket go for fourth with Monteux and Pemberley charging home when it was all over. Duke Of Brunswick disappointed.

Follow: Monteux and Pemberley were both third-up and are close to a win.

Race 6: Rivette Series Final (1600m)

1st Manageress – Chris Parnham 2nd Kansas Sunflower – Craig Williams 3rd Penny To Sell – Steven King

Lucy’s Look jumped well from the inside gate and held the lead, though a few of them were looking for spots up there. Comic Miss andKansas Sunflower were there and the latter pressed on to sit second. Champagne Cocktail and Violent Snow pulled out of that battle while Penny To Sell improved to be with Violent Snow. Explosive One, Bonnie Belle and Vertical Hold were in a line next. Lucy’s Look was being stalked by Kansas Sunflower to the turn and was headed pretty early in the straight. Champagne Cocktail got a rails run and they broke clear. Penny To Sell started to work home with Explosive One, the latter battling a bit. Further out Violent Snow also struggled and Manageress was starting to hit top gear. Kansas Sunflower kicked right away and looked the winner at the 200m but Manageress really sprinted sharply, so much so she had almost a length advantage on the line. Penny To Sell stuck on for third ahead of Champagne Cocktail while Kaizaen, who was always well back, attacked the line nicely if a bit too late. Impressive performance from Manageress.

Follow: much better effort from Kaizaen.

Race 7: Winter Championship Final (1600m)

1st Amovatio – Damien Oliver 2nd Mr Utopia – Dwayne Dunn 3rd Coronation Shallan – Michael Dee

Ventic was fast away and held the fence while Coronation Shallan was revved up from out wide and crossed to join him. Tried And Tired and Good Value let them go and Tiny’s Legacy settled in the clear as they started to string out. Sir Andrew raced between Lake Sententia and Mr Utopia looking for some cover. Ventic and Coronation Shallan really got hiking along and opened up a few lengths over Good Value and Tried And Tired in the middle stages. They’d bunched considerably by the turn as Coronation Shallan served it up to Ventic. Tiny’s Legacy was looming up but nothing really made significant ground by the 300m. Sir Andrew started to close inside Tried And Tired and Good Value and while Mr Utopia was chiming in down the middle, Amovatio was weaving through the field too. By The Gracemade a dash late as Mr Utopia swooped on the leaders, sticking his head in front a few strides before the line but Amovatio made a dive and had his nose down right on the post. Coronation Shallan did a great job to battle on for third just ahead of Good Value and Ventic, who also held on nicely, from By The Grace. Big win from Amovatio coming from near last and Mr Utopia was gallant after sitting three deep for the trip.

Follow: none.

Race 8: All Victorian Sprint Final (1200m)

1st Play Master – Craig Newitt 2nd Lonrockstar – Craig Williams 3rd Hard Romp – Michael Dee

Lonrockstar wasn’t the best out, perhaps squeezed up a bit, and settled back. Hard Romp held them out near the middle of the track with Nearest To Pin over racing outside him and Written Up also going a bit keenly. Solsay settled right behind the leader whileDecircles was wider out, being tracked by Nadeem Lass. Play Master and About Square were in behind Solsay. Hard Romp was put under pressure at the 400m as he was joined on all sides with Play Master getting up underneath and Nearest To Pin and Written Up trying hard on his outer. Lonrockstar started to pick up following Play Master while wider out Decircles and Nadeem Lass weren’t in the hunt. Play Master got the better of Hard Romp past the 200m and kicked away. Lonrockstar set out after him on the inside but couldn’t bridge the gap. Whether the start was costly is debatable but he had his chance in the last furlong. Hard Romp did a good job to hold third considering he’s a risk at 1200m while Nearest To Pin and Nadeem Lass, leaving it too late again, were close up.

Follow: none.

Race 9: Banjo Paterson Final (2600m)

1st De Little Engine – Damien Oliver 2nd Timikar – Harry Coffey 3rd Cadillac Mountain – Glen Boss

Black Jag was stoked up from his wide alley to cross them and lead over Stable Star, Red Fella and Crafty Cruiser were handy andTimikar wider out improved. De Little Engine was in the second half early but he also gathered ground to wind up in second place. Timikar ran off the track on the home turn. Cadillac Mountain and Cooldini settled in midfield. Black Jag did his thing up front, making it a true staying test. De Little Engine didn’t let him get too far away and Stable Star enjoyed the box seat. Timikar settled a bit better in fourth and the only change all the way down the back straight was him moving to third. Black Jag was under pressure on the turn and Stable Star tried to get up on his inside. De Little Engine travelled well and hit the lead at the top of the straight. Timikar was going with him and Red Fella was further out. Crafty Cruiser and Cadillac Mountain looked for runs and Cooldini was also back in the ruck. De Little Engine was holding Timikar and Red Fella by the clock tower and Cadillac Mountain was running on to their inside as Black Jag weakened. Crafty Cruiser couldn’t go with them and Prizum did his typical late finish. But De Little Engine, perfectly ridden, edged away for a dominant win. Timikar was very game in second just ahead of Cadillac Mountain and Prizum. A couple of disappointments from Crafty Cruiser and Cooldini who seemed to have their chance.

Follow: none.

Specials from the meeting: Clairvaux, Monteux, Pemberley, Kaizaen.

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Race 1

1st Kenjorwood – Regan Bayliss 2nd Pajaro – Thomas Huet 3rd Eigelstein – Tye Angland

After we have been used to two-year-olds getting them underway of late, there was a field of five of the older horses on this card for the first. They took a little while to sort themselves out but Keep Cool ran to the front with Eigelstein closer than usual in second. The top two in betting, Kenjorwood and Pajaro went back to second last and last. Nothing changed in the middle stages and as they started to come around the turn, Kenjorwood moved into it with Pajaro following him up. Around the turn, Kenjorwood ran off the track a bit, but wound up strongly and looked a winning up as they topped the rise. He ran out again at the furlong, but Pajaro was struggling to get on terms. In the final part Kenjorwood was still having a good look around and running all over the place but had plenty on them and came on for a clear win. Not much can be said about the beaten horses here.

Follow: Kenjorwood (over 1600m)

Race 2

1st Kimberley Star – Blake Shinn 2nd Intrepid Way – Winona Costin 3rd Fulfilled Promise – Tim Clark

The two-year-olds were up next with Stalwart beginning well before Multitude headed it off and ran to the front. Fulfilled Promise ran to second with Stalwart settling in third, but then wanting to pull a bit as it was restrained. Before the turn, Kimberley Star looked to be traveling pretty well as it moved up three wide. Up the rise, Kimberley Star was being asked for an effort and responding nicely, as Stalwart back behind it looked a spent force. Kimberley Star was ridden out to the line and always had them covered in the final furlong. Intrepid Way was the eye catcher with another big finish as it put in last time out, but today it was only enough to grab third spot. A nice ride on the winner, a good run by the second horse is the summary here.

Follow: Intrepid Way

Race 3

1st Noela’s Choice – Regan Bayliss 2nd I’m In The Money – Tommy Berry 3rd Orion Love – Koby Jennings

The famous Randwick mile was the course for race three with Berrimilla sent out favourite and missing the kick and going back to last. I’m In The Money was best to begin and extended from out wide to go across and lead it clearly from Mardi who was well off the fence. There was a good break to Orion Love back in third as the field strung out. As they came around the turn, the field started to pack up a bit. Into the straight, and up the rise, I’m In The Money was still defying them, but soon after Noela’s Choice was let rip and was putting in a booming run down the outside. In the final 150m, Noela’s Choice had run clear and was set for victory despite doing exactly the same as Kenjorwood did in the first and running all over the place. I’m In The Money was a pretty decent run to hold on for second, whereas the others didn’t do a lot today.

Follow: I’m In The Money

Race 4

1st Skyline Blush – Brenton Avdulla 2nd Got You Double – Blake Shinn 3rd Montrer Dame – Thomas Huet

2000m for race three and they strung out over plenty of ground not long after the start with with Serious Spy running to the front from High Above. Kiseki Dane settled in third and Skyline Blush was across into a nice spot in fourth. They packed up a bit towards the 800m mark, but nothing really made a move until the point of the turn where Skyline Blush was moving up three wide and Got You Double was up four deep to be in a striking position. Kiseki Dane looked to be going ok in behind them but was getting no room at all as the turned. Up the rise, Got You Double and Skyline Blush had gotten the better of High Above and came away to fight it out. In the run to the line it was a good battle but Skyline Blush always maintained a short margin and got there about a head on the line. Montrer Dame finished its race off ok to get the better of the tiring High Above for third. The margin was unfair to Kiseki Dane.

Follow: Kiseki Dane

Race 5

1st Way We Go – Claire Nutman 2nd Reigning Meteor – Damien Thornton 3rd Momma’s Snitzel – Jess Taylor

Momma’s Snitzel and Minesota were both drawn wide and began well and came across to set the pace in race five. Inz’n’Out was in third with Way We Go out very wide in fourth. As they came around the bend and into the straight they were queuing up everywhere to make their bid for victory, but it was Way We Go who always had them covered out wide. Given the horse has won two from two on heavy going, I didn’t think it looked to be handling the ground all that well at times, and it beat them pointlessly in the end. It is hard to assess the win, given being out wide may not have been any disadvantage, but the way the horse won it is one that I am looking forward to seeing again. Reigning Meteor was a clear second best and should also be followed.

Follow: Way We Go, Reigning Meteor

Race 6

1st Idance – Tommy Berry 2nd Lunar Rise – Jason Collett 3rd Kristy Lee – Tye Angland

Queen Of Kariba was a clear last out of the gates here and went back to last, much to the disgust of favourite backers. Lunar Rise headed them off from Cool Ring with Alias in third and Foreign Prince rounding out the top four early on. The pace didn’t look that strong in the middle stages, and the eventual winner Idance was out wide but started to move forward as they headed towards the turn, with Got The Goss following it up. Into the straight, Lunar Rise was trying to kick on, but Idance looked to be traveling better as it cruised up on the outside, and Cool Ring had been dropped off in the middle. Queen Of Kariba had too much ground to make up at the furlong. This was another good two horse war in the run to the line with Lunar Rise putting up a fight, but Idance got the better of it in the final part and pulled away for a narrow but clear enough win. Kristy Lee worked home well into third as she often does. Queen Of Kariba has to be forgiven after its bad start, given its form was so good prior.

Follow: Lunar Rise is bursting to win

Race 7

1st Astronomos – Jason Collett 2nd Dure – Kathy O’Hara 3rd Campania – Kerrin McEvoy

Back to the 2000m trip for race seven. Zayam strode out to a clear lead. Frank Who kicked through along the fence from Campania in third and Casino Dancer landing nicely in fourth with Astronomos inside of it and Let Me Handle It going forward out wide. Again the field strung out a bit with the pace looking ok in the middle stages. It’s All About You who was well in betting contention got back to a clear last. Zayam still had it as they straightened with Campania throwing out the challenge. Back behind them, Astronomos had made ground and was working its way into the clear and Dure was running on down the outside. Once fully into the clear inside the final 100m, Astronomos was the one who finished best and got there narrowly on the line. This was a very good win given the horses determination in the final part and the fact it wasn’t in fully clear running until late in the race. No excuses for anything beaten here by a better horse on the day.

Follow: Astronomos

Race 8

1st Darciwood – Tommy Berry 2nd Wonderbolt – Josh Cartwright 3rd Il Mio Destino – Jess Taylor

It was a 1000m dash for the final event and they charged into the first turn with Il Mio Destino going to the lead out wide from Floral Insight. It was the kind of race where they basically charged all the way as you would expect over 1000m, but it this case they virtually stayed in lanes which meant some were very wide, withSelectify the widest in the run. Whilst it all unfolded up front, Darciwood was let canter around behind them by Tommy Berry. If you happened to be watching it as they came around the turn and topped the rise it was cantering up to them and once let go by Tommy Berry had them easily covered and ran clear over the final part. It was hard to say here whether the winner was impressive, or whether the circumstances, combined with a smart ride flattered it on the day. I would expect some form reversals out of this due to the heavy conditions and hard runs that some of them had. It is one of those races where you need to watch the replay if you can.

Follow: None to follow, watch the replay

Specials from the meeting: Lunar Rise, Way We Go, Astronomos