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Epaulette Continues Three Year Old Domination

The Peter Snowden trained Epaulette continued the three year old domination this season with his two length victory in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 on Saturday; it has been a spectacular season for three year olds against the older horses. Just some of their prior victories have come via Shamexpress in the Newmarket Handicap, Super Cool in the Australian Cup, Sacred Falls in the Doncaster Mile, Fiveandahalfstar in the BMW and multiple wins to All Too Hard and Pierro. A superb ride by Kerrin McEvoy paved the way for Epaulette's win, and Epaulette will next run in the Stradbroke Handicap on Saturday week if he is handicapped fairly. Racing fans and horse lovers were dismayed when Rangirangdoo snapped both of his sesamoids about the 600 metre mark and was subsequently euthanised; Rangirangdoo was a very popular and talented horse as evidenced by his two Group 1 victories in a Doncaster Handicap and a George Ryder Stakes and trainer Chris Waller was understandably distraught after the race.

 

A review of selected races from Doomben and Caulfield follows:

 

Doomben, Race 3

Three year old filly Peron was too good for her older rivals in this Set Weight Class 6 over 1350 metres after she was given a gun-ride by Michael Cahill; Peron has now had six career starts for five wins and a third and more wins are in-store for this highly promising filly. Tax Evader is having a great preparation and he did very well to finish second carrying 57.5kg from barrier fourteen; he will continue to be competitive in races of this class.

 

Doomben, Race 4 - Glenlogan Park Stakes

Sookie was the only filly in this Set Weight with Penalties Group 3 race over 1350 metres but she proved too good for the mares; Sookie had a good run just behind the leader Bound To Blush but it was still a very good effort to run her down. That was only Sookie's second start since resuming so her winning run may not be over. Bound To Blush did a great job to finish second after coming from the outside barrier; it was a further three lengths to Diademe in third place so Sookie and Bound To Blush had a clear advantage over the rest of the field. Arinosa should have been odds-on against this field on her Sydney form during the Autumn but she wasn't and she raced accordingly; there was no acceleration at all to be seen from Arinosa on Saturday but she did battle-on quite well to finish fourth. A post-race veterinary examination of Arinosa revealed the mare to be lame in the near foreleg.

 

Doomben, Race 5 - Sires' Produce Stakes

Zoustar had impeccable credentials leading into this Group 2 race for two year olds over 1350 metres; Zoustar had been impressive at his two career starts winning over 1100 metres at Canterbury and winning again over 1300 metres at Hawkesbury and he was impressive again defeating Vilanova and Bound For Earth. Vilanova and Bound For Earth came strongly at Zoustar in the straight but Zoustar was clearly too good on the line. Zoustar is the most talented two year old in training at the moment and his winning run is almost certainly not over.

 

Doomben, Race 6 - Chief De Beers Handicap

Pentasia continued-on from where she left-off last preparation with an excellent first-up victory in this quality handicap over 1110 metres; from her last twelve starts Pentasia has recorded eight wins and three seconds and there are very few horses that can match that. Pentasia was perfectly ridden by Christian Reith and she was too good for Gundy Son and Rocker in the run to the line; Pentasia's next start is likely to be in the June Stakes at Randwick but her ultimate goal is the Ramornie Stakes at Grafton and she will be hard to beat in both races. Karuta Queen could not lead and subsequently threw in the towel before the home turn eventually finishing thirteenth.

 

Doomben, Race 7 - Grand Prix Stakes

Hawkspur had excellent credentials to win this Group 3 race for three year olds over 2200 metres; at his previous start in the Rough Habit Plate over 2100 metres at Eagle Farm Hawkspur thrashed Survived and Usainity. That race was run on a heavy track but Hawkspur's previous form on good and dead tracks over middle distances was just as good; as in the Rough Habit Hawkspur was given a perfect ride by Jim Cassidy from an inside barrier but Hawkspur's winning margin of 2.3 lengths leaves very little room fro excuses among the beaten brigade. Hawkspur's next run will be in the Queensland Derby, and in his current form and his ability to handle all track conditions means that he is definitely the horse they all have to beat. Rhythm To Spare did very well to finish second jumping sharply in class and distance; he is certain to be improved by the run and he will be right in the finish of the Derby. Honorius' effort to finish third was also good as he had not run since finishing second to Usainity in the Frank Packer Plate four weeks earlier.

 

Doomben, Race 8 - Doomben 10,000

A hot early speed set by Buffering and Your Song paved the way for Epaulette's empahtic two length victory in the Group 1 weight-for-age race over 1350 metres; Epaulette was a big chance in the 10,000 if he returned to the form of his first-up second to Black Caviar in the T J Smith Stakes over 1200 metres at Randwick. Epaulette raced well below his best second-up when sixth of eight in the All Aged Stakes behind All Too Hard; not only was it a perfect ride by Kerrin McEvoy but it was also a great training performance by Peter Snowden to have Epaulette return to his very best. Fellow three year old Your Song did not reproduce his stunning performance from a fortnight earlier in the BTC Cup over 1200 metres at Eagle Farm; whether that was because he was second-up, did far too much work from the outside barrier, did not cope with the much drier track conditions, did not run the distance or a combination of these is pure conjecture. However it would be foolish to write-off Your Song as a winning chance in the Stradbroke Handicap. Sea Siren returned to close to her best  with an excellent second to Epaulette; her form in three starts from a spell had been very ordinary so it was a good training performance by John O'Shea to have her competitive again. Buffering still has not won that elusive Group 1 but it was a brave effort by him to hold-on for third. The only other horses to consider for the Stradbroke are Spirit Of Boom and Better Than Ready.

 

Doomben, Race 9 - Premier's Cup

As written in Wizard's Early Mail " this quality handicap over 2200 metres is the major lead-up to the Brisbane Cup but this year's edition is average with few promising gallopers engaged"; with Precedence winning his second race since taking-out the 2010 Moonee Valley Cup this was undoubtedly correct. Precedence had been beaten 9.6 and 6.8 lengths at his last two starts over 1800 metres at Caulfield and 2000 metres at Flemington so he was difficult to have despite the weakness of this Group 3 race; in contrast Midsummer Sun had been impressive winning his two Australian starts, firstly over 1600 metres at Morphettville and then over 2000 metres at Caulfield. However Midsummer Sun after being given a perfect ride by Glen Boss did nothing in the straight. A post-race veterinary examination of Midsummer Sun failed to reveal any significant findings so his performance is a complete mystery. Less Is More, Zennista and Studio battled-on quite well to finish second, third and fourth respectively but it will be no surprise if the winner of the Brisbane Cup on Saturday week did not run in the Premier's Cup.

 

Caulfield, Race 4

The Caulfield track on Saturday was one of the most biased in living memory; horses away from the rail had little or no chance so horses that failed but did not race in the fast lane should be forgiven. One horse that took full advantage of this bias was Akavoroun which raced third on the fence throughout in this open handicap for three year olds over 1400 metres; Akavoroun however was still very impressive having only his second career start after he won a maiden over 1400 metres during the Warrnambool carnival. Akavoroun is a very promising horse that should be watched very closely at his future starts. This race will provide many future winners including Scapolo, Liberty Rock, Ava's Delight and King Krovanh.

 

Caulfield, Race 5

She Can Skate took full advantage of the rails bias in this open handicap for three year olds over 1100 metres but by the same token she was ultra impressive in defeating a good field by four lengths; She Can Skate showed a lot of promise in her first preparation and based on this win she has returned to racing that much better. Elite Elle sat outside She Can Skate but she weakened badly in the straight and she has probably had enough racing for now. The New Zealander So Wotif battled-on well for third and he will be better suited at 1200 metres. Edgewood was expected to run-home strongly from back in the field but he made no ground out wide in the straight and his run should be ignored.

 

Caulfield, Race 6

Mr Make Believe drew barrier one, held the lead on the rails and at no stage did he look in any danger of defeat in this open handicap over 1000 metres; although it was almost impossible for Mr Make Believe to lose once the barriers opened it at least proved that he has come back to racing very well. Mr Make Believe loves rain-affected tracks and he will be very competitive over the next few months.

 

Caulfield, Race 7

The huge bias was once again to the fore in this open handicap for mares over 1200 metres with Royal Bender winning after sitting third on the fence after drawing barrier one while the leader Classy Chloe finished second; Royal Bender appeared completely out of form coming into this race but because of the bias Royal Bender was heavily backed at long odds for the perfect result for her backers. The run of Serene Star to finish third was nothing short of exceptional; on a normal track Serene Star would have won this race and won it easily and hopefully Serene Star won't have to overcome such a biased track in her future runs.

 

Caulfield, Race 9

The hot favourite Strawberry Boy found the fast lane shortly after the start of this open handicap over 1600 metres but he had to pull-out all stops to win; despite his narrow victory Strawberry Boy's effort was still very good as he raced keenly throughout. That was Strawberry Boy's second win from two starts for Peter Moody who will now spell Strawberry Boy and bring him back for a Spring campaign; races like the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and the Toorak Handicap will be very suitable targets. The run of Mick Price's import Bit Of Hell to finish a short-head second was outstanding; it is mystifying as to why this horse started at $31 with a career record of six wins, six seconds and a third from thirteen starts before Saturday. Bit Of Hell is clearly a very talented horse and it will be no surprise if he is a major player in the Spring. Price's other import Pakal also ran well at his first Australian start. Oregon Spirit returned to form with a good third and he will be winning again shortly. Mr O'Ceirin was having his first start since last October and he was noted finding the line very strongly late.