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Flemington was light on Saturday, for runners, when just 83 horses faced the starter on a nine race program, the lowest on record.

In contrast to the previous three winter meetings that have been well patronised for starters, but that was not the case on Saturday.

Flemington has stood up so well this winter, it is a credit to the management and staff as it has been racing pretty consistently.

Ride Guide Not On

Ride Guide looks as if it is dead in the water while there is any involvement with corporate bookmakers picking up the tab.

The service is the brain child of popular jockey Chris Symons, interviewing various jockeys during a two minute segment on what they would be riding on race day.

Of course the scheme would not get past first base without funding that is where the corporate bookmaker comes in to the tune of $2.4 million, to set the job up basically as a sponsorship.

That is purely chicken feed to the bookmaker, he is on a sure winner its a safe bet he will triple his money at the drop of a hat.

Craig Williams Puts The Seal On Premiership

Craig Williams’s double at Flemington on Saturday might have just about put the sealer on the jockey’s premiership, with two metro meetings of the season remaining.

He leads Dwayne Dunn by three winners, while it is not an impossible lead Williams is riding in remarkable form at present.

Highland Reel Wins King George

Highland Reel’s success in the King George And Queen Elizabeth Stakes was as effortless as you like, he had them off the bit a long way out, once he reaches the lead he is a hard horse to pass, he doesn’t give in easily.

As a three year old he proved it to the Americans in the Secretariat Stakes, at Arlington Park in Chicago, dictating the pace throughout on his way to an impressive success.

There was more of the same at Sha Tin in the Hong Kong Vase last December, he was headed before the half way stage, yet he again took control over the final furlong to record an easy win.

There was lack of a front runner for the King George V1 And Queen Elizabeth, just as it was scripted, Ryan Moore allowed him to bowl along, it was nothing more than a procession.

Unorthodox Methods Work

Darren Weir is uncanny; if the conventional methods don’t work he is not afraid to try the alternative, as was the case with Saturday’s Flemington winner, Au Revior.

The gelding required a good hit out for what was ahead of him, when there was not a suitable trial over 2000 metres to fit him for Flemington, Weir pulled the rabbit out of the hat, entered him for two trials over 1200 metres at Burrumbeet on the Monday .

As Weir explained, it may not work for all horses but it does for those heavy types of stallions when their condition can get away from you.

First City Winner For Trainer  

There was a touch of emotion in the paddock at Flemington on Saturday, the first city winner for trainer, Alan Hunter from Geelong, and Astro Castro, having his very first start winning at 100-1, and a welcome win for Jason Benbow who carried out his instructions to the letter.

Alan Hunter became a little emotional, that’s nothing to be of ashamed of, he was thinking of his grandfather, the late Curly Burns, a man that was the salt of the earth, a figure larger than life, a character, a man with an army of friends and one of the great horse trainers of his time.

Curly trained at Tempy, deep in the heart of the Mallee, he trained a number of winners over several seasons, Tudor Peak, an extremely good miler who could hold his head up high when he came to the city, Dry Wine and Dark Satin were all good winners for Curly.

“I think I made a goose of myself cheering him home, I nearly gave the game away but this has made it all worthwhile, I’m now in for the long haul,’’ said Alan.

It is a huge effort to take on the open age horses in the city with a maiden performer, and he can be improved on that run.  

The racing colours carried by Astro Castro are no strangers to Flemington, they have made many trips there with horses trained by the late Curly Burns.

Astro Castro is out of a maiden mare in Myxaar, by Astronomer Royal, he was sold recently at the Great Southern Sale for $21,OO0, to go to China.


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