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Australian Guineas All Too Easy For Ferlax

With the scratching of All Too Hard from the Australian Guineas at Flemington, a great opportunity was afforded to every runner to taste Group 1 success; it was the Jim Conlan trained Ferlax that stood-up and was counted after he received a magnificent ride from Stephen Baster. Ferlax came into the Guineas undefeated after three starts but his last win was in a restricted-68 at Sale leaving many to think that the rise in class would prove beyond him; now that Ferlax has tasted Group 1 success more high level success for this son of Pentire is likely. At Rosehill the highlight was the return victory of Pierro; it took a perfect Nash Rawiller ride to get Pierro home first but it was still an impressive effort first-up in the testing conditions. Rebel Dane was superb in his narrow defeat by Pierro and the first-up performances of Proisir and It's A Dundeel were very encouraging.

 

 A review of selected races from Flemington and Rosehill follows:

 

Flemington, Race 2

The 2000 metre open handicap was a lack-lustre affair with only five starters won easily by Keep Cool; the most significant part of this race was the ride by Craig Williams which was in complete contrast to the ride by Jake Noonan on Keep Cool a fortnight earlier. As in each of his previous runs this preparation prior to his last start, Williams was able to settle Keep Cool quite comfortably close to the leaders before giving a strong kick in the straight and proving too good for his rivals. Keep Cool has been in superb form this preparation and another win is a distinct possibility. Whisper Downs has had a very long campaign yet he continues to race extraordinarily well while Shewan and Elusive King were very disappointing.

 

Flemington, Race 3

This Set Weight with Penalties race for fillies and mares over 1100 metres was won in a deceptive finish by Loveyamadly who prevailed by a short half-head over Avoid Lightning; Loveyamadly is a very talented and consistent galloper that has now won five races with three placings from eight starts and she will continue to be very competitive in races of this class around this distance. The run of Avoid Lightning in defeat was outstanding; unlike his ride in the previous race on Keep Cool, Craig Williams was desperate to lead on Avoid Lightning despite the fact that Glows was leading her early, she was having her  first run down the straight, she had not won beyond 1050 metres before, and she was carrying 3.5kg more than her major rival in Loveyamadly. In addition to this Loveyamadly has now recorded the fastest time in history for 1100 metres at Flemington; nothing can be taken away from Loveyamadly but a more conservative ride by Williams on Avoid Lightning and she would have been the winner. Avoid Lightning is a very good sprinting mare that handles all track conditions and another win for her very shortly is almost certain. Glows also ran very well for third at her first run for six months; she is a good mare that will be improved by the run and she is particularly effective on good tracks.

 

Flemington, Race 4 - Frances Tressady Stakes

Tavarnelle did not appear to have the credentials to win this Set Weight with Penalties race for mares over 1400 metres but win she did in a close finish from Sheila's Star and Koonoomoo; the win of Tavarnelle was not totally unexpected as she was very well backed at double-figure odds. Tavarnelle sat outside Sheila's Star in the run but she proved a shade too strong wearing down Sheila's Star in the shadows of the post; Sheila's Star has now had two runs back from a spell and she will be cherry-ripe for her next assignment. A win for Sheila's Star in the very near future is extremely likely. Koonoomoo is racing consistently without winning and she did very well to get so close at the finish. There's Only One did not meet the expectations of Wizard and many others and she was extremely disappointing on the day; There's Only One was last in the run following Koonoomoo but There's Only One could not stay with Koonoomoo when they both made their runs in the straight. There's Only One is a high quality mare at her best and she should be forgiven for this rare below-par performance.

 

Flemington, Race 5 - Roy Higgins Quality

A minor upset in this quality handicap over 2600 metres with Kutchinsky being a very strong winner over Dame Claire and Tuscan Fire; now trained by Danny O'Brien Kutchinsky is racing with a new lease of life and on this performance Kutchinsky is a definite chance in the Adelaide Cup next Monday. Dame Claire loves racing at Flemington and she ran a much improved race back at headquarters. Despite carrying 59kg Tuscan Fire was not the same horse that brilliantly won the Mornington Cup and two other races this preparation; Tuscan Fire did not settle as well as he normally does and he was left vulnerable in the straight after leading. Tuscan Fire will now head to the Adelaide Cup and if he returns to his previous form he is still a good chance in that race. Much was expected of Bells Of Troy but her performance on face-value was dreadful; despite drawing barrier one Bells Of Troy showed no speed down the straight the first time and she was second-last on the fence at the winning post with a lap to go. Bells Of Troy made up little or no ground in the straight to be beaten 4.9 lengths into sixth place; however Bells Of Troy pulled up sore with a veterinary examination revealing that Bells Of Troy had jarred up.

 

Flemington, Race 6 - TAB Stakes

Another win to Flemington specialist Launay over British General and Callanish in this open handicap over 1400 metres; with this win Launay has now had seven starts at Flemington for five wins. Launay is not top-class but he is a very genuine galloper; he carried 59.5kg in his victory here so his task of winning more handicap races will not be easy. British General is another Flemington specialist; he was a rank failure at his previous start at Caulfield five weeks ago but a return to Flemington was the catalyst for his very brave effort to be just defeated. Callanish had every chance in the lead but it was only his second start back from a spell and he will be further improved by the run; Callanish is now ready for a step-up in distance.

 

Flemington, Race 7 - Australian Guineas

All honours to the winner Ferlax in the Group 1 Australian Guineas for three year olds over 1600 metres; Ferlax has now had four starts for four wins and although this was definitely not a vintage Guineas Ferlax is on such an upward spiral so early in his career that there is no telling how good Ferlax will prove to be. The runner-up You're So Good was outstanding in defeat; You're So Good was coming-off a nose defeat by Alzora in The Vanity a fortnight earlier after she had every chance in the lead. You're So Good improved significantly here racing wide throughout and showing a lot of tenacity in the striaght to go down by only a half-length. Sheer Talent did a lot of work early to cross from the outside barrier and sit outside the leader Ajeeb; Sheer Talent's effort to battle on strongly for third was very good. Sheer Talent will have no trouble coping with at least 2000 metres deeper into this preparation. The runs of Hvasstan, Philippi and Bass Strait were all good and they can be expected to be competitive in the three year old staying races in Sydney. Ajeeb found the task of leading all the way in the Guineas in his first preparation beyond him; Ajeeb will now be spelled but it will be no surprise if he is a top notch galloper when he returns. Albrecht was a rank failure yet again.

 

Flemington, Race 8 - Bob Hoysted Handicap

A very good first-up win to the three year old filly Isabella Snowflake in this open handicap over 1000 metres; Karuta Queen was leading comfortably from Isabella Snowflake in the run down the straight, and Isabella Snowflake did very well to run her down and then hold off the late surge by Ready To Rip. Isabella Snowflake is a 1000 metre specialist as she has won all four of her starts at the distance; her only defeat was over 1200 metres so it is very likely that trainer Mick Price will keep Isabella Snowflake to distances up to 1100 metres. The run of Ready To Rip to be beaten only 0.3 lengths was outstanding; drawing barrier one Ready To Rip was almost certainly on the wrong part of the track to catch Isabella Snowflake and yet he still nearly got there. Ready To Rip was a weight-for-age winner last preparation and he is now in his second campaign for Peter Moody; Ready To Rip's statistics show that he is much better suited to rain-affected tracks so his effort on this very good track augurs very well for his future prospects. Karuta Queen had every possible chance in the lead at her first run for Peter Moody; after being well-out in front Karuta Queen weakened appreciably to be beaten over a length. Karuta Queen is almost certainly better suited around a turn and she may be worth another chance in that case.

 

Flemington, Race 9

Auld Burns turned around his previous flop over the same course and distance by winning this open handicap over 1700 metres; his previous run could be excused as he was second-up after an excellent first-up effort behind Population and Dany The Fox at Caulfield over 1400 metres. Auld Burns also reefed and pulled badly at his previous start but there were no signs of that here settling well in midfield before he cruised up to the leaders in the straight and then proving too strong for his rivals over the concluding stages. Auld Burns' target this Autumn is the Easter Cup over 2000 metres at Caulfield. Practiced was very heavily backed first-up and after racing right on the speed he battled-on very well in the straight to go down by a half-length; Practiced appears to be a better horse this preparation and he could now be ready to live-up to the promise that he has shown in the past. Under The Hat is a disappointing horse and he had every chance finishing a weak fourth. The performance of Gail was extremely ordinary; her best city performances have been when there has been considerable sting out of the track.

 

Rosehill, Race 4 - Fireball Quality

An excellent win to Catkins in this quality handicap for three year olds over 1100 metres; Catkins was first-up from a spell and this win brings the record of Catkins to five wins and a second from only eight starts. Golden Sunshine looked the winner for most of the straight but Catkins showed great courage to come through on the inside of Golden Sunshine and wear her down. Catkins has been very much underrated through his short career thus far but this win was full of merit and more wins are in store for this son of Dubawi. Golden Sunshine was undefeated from four starts before Saturday and she was gallant in defeat after having every chance in the lead; with her racing style Golden Sunshine will be winning more sprint races. The John O'Shea trained Knight Exemplar and Charge Account were both very disappointing but almost certainly did not handle the wet conditions; Knight Exemplar in particular could be the big improver at his next few starts on drier ground.

 

Rosehill, Race 5 - Silver Slipper Stakes

Sweet Idea was a very good winner of the Silver Slipper for two year olds over 1100 metres; Sweet Idea was having her first start since running a very close second to Real Surreal in the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast in January but Sweet Idea proved the best horse on the day in the testing conditions. Queensland gelding Whiskey Allround came into this race undefeated from three starts and he was having his first start since November so his effort to be beaten less than a half-length by Sweet Idea was outstanding; it appears that trainer Tony Gollan has another very good horse on his hands. Charlie Boy was a further two lengths back in third place emphasising the dominace of Sweet Idea and Whiskey Allround. The naive notions held by many racing enthusiasts that Queensland races like the Magic Millions are inferior or that Queensland horses when they travel interstate are not good enough are notions easily contradicted by the facts. Charlie Boy was having his first start since winning his only start last November and he made up a good deal of ground in the straight; Charlie Boy was probably not at home in the conditions, will be improved by the run, and he will be better at 1200 metres. Kuroshio and All The Talk were attacking each other at a suicidal pace and the effort of All The Talk in particular to hang-on for fourth was very brave. The previously undefeated Never Can Tell ran a bad last but he did not appear happy in the conditions at any stage and he should be given another chance on a much drier surface.

 

Rosehill, Race 6 - Hobartville Stakes

A superb return by Pierro winning the Hobartville Stakes for three year olds over 1400 metres at his first start since running a brave third to Ocean Park and All Too Hard in the Cox Plate last October; it took a perfect Nash Rawiller ride for Pierro to prove a fraction too good for Rebel Dane. This win of Pierro brought his Sydney record to eight starts for eight wins; as Pierro is now in his fourth preparation that is an outstanding effort. All Too Hard was considered unimpressive by many 'experts' after he won the C F Orr Stakes first-up at Caulfield and it is very likely that those same 'experts' have a similar view as to the merit of Pierro's win in the Hobartville; winning over 1400 metres first-up in wet conditions beating the best three year olds in Sydney is hardly unimpressive, especially considering no horse had won this race first-up since 2001. The runner-up Rebel Dane was superb in defeat; after missing the start Rebel Dane received a good run midfield on the fence before coming through the pack to challenge Pierro. Pierro had to pull-out all stops to stave-off Rebel Dane and win narrowly; it is only a matter of time before Rebel Dane is a Group 1 winner and the Doncaster Mile is the perfect goal this Autumn for this very talented son of California Dane. The runs of Proisir and It's A Dundeel to finish third and fourth respectively were also extremely good; Proisir was having his first start since running eighth in the Cox Plate and he battled-on very well after chasing the tearaway leader Mulaazem. It's A Dundeel had a torrid Spring but he appears to have taken no harm from that campaign as evidenced by his very strong finishing effort. Races like the The BMW and the ATC Derby will be on the radar of trainer Bjorn Baker for It's A Dundeel.

 

Rosehill, Race 7 - Millie Fox Stakes

Red Tracer brought her wet track recod to six starts for six wins with this extremely hard fought victory in the Millie Fox for fillies and mares over 1300 metres, once again Nash Rawiller had to throw everything at Red Tracer for her to record this very narrow victory. Red Tracer is a very honest and talented mare that is always a chance on any surface but her prospects soar when she strikes a wet track. The Queensland mare Risk Aversion ran the race of her life to get so close to Red Tracer; if she can continue to race at this standard then she will be competitive in the mares' races over the Autumn. Lady's Angel is also a superior wet tracker and she battled-on well for third. Driefontein may not have been entirely suited by the wet conditions but she had every chance in the lead and she does not appear to be racing with the same courage as in previous preparations.