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Tony McEvoy has unearthed another promising three year old in the form of Azazel, who put paid to the opposition in the VRC Members Pavilion Handicap.

First up since February, with natural improvement, he will be a force to be reckoned with when the major stakes races come along for three year olds in the spring.

The benefit of that trial down the straight improved his manners a lot, he raced true and had the race well and truly parcelled up when the horses reached the distance.

Whilst he has only won the one race in the spring at Moonee Valley, he has been competitive in his previous four starts as he did have the form line coming into the race.

“I think we will see the best of him when he sets over 1400 metres, he is not really a speed horse, “said Tony McEvoy.

The combination of Tony McEvoy, as trainer, and jockey, Luke Currie, is really firing up well, they are looking forward to a successful spring.

Azazel is by the leading sire for the 2016-2017 season, Snitzel, with 159 winners, with progeny earnings of $16,220,135, and is already away to a brilliant beginning again, besides Azazel, Steyne, Faerie Whisper and Special Diva.

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Azazel returns to scale  

First starter, Frankel My Dear, came in for quite some attention in the post parade, as he is by the outstanding race horse of our time, the unbeaten Frankel.

He had some backing opening up at $14.00 and finishing at $7.50, it was quite an impressive run, he can only improve on that.

There is a definite future for the son of Frankel, he is quite an impressive colt, he cost $500,000 as a yearling and with what we have seen he will prove a sound investment.

He is a big strong colt that will improve with racing, the Derby may not be flying too high for him.

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Frankel My Dear 

Nick Williams couldn’t be drawn into discussions about the Melbourne Cup after the win of Aloft in The Nursery Handicap, except to say, “it’s too early yet.”

The gelding at least has got the right pedigree, being by Galileo out of a Storm Cat mare, his only second win since coming from the U K, he has been lightly raced having raced 10 times for four wins, two of those wins have been at Flemington.

Once Nick Williams wins a race at Flemington, first thoughts lead to the Melbourne Cup, sure they have won a few, four in fact, but they have been to the well many times.

Nick said, “it is a winter meeting, there is still a long way to go, obviously we are very happy with his return, he was right up there on the speed, it was a great ride by Bennie”.

“He rode him beautifully, he is a horse obviously with some ability, it is now onwards and upwards, we will have another run in a month, we like to have our horses nice and fit ticking over, that is about the plan, we will have plenty of options,” he added

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Ben Melham and Nick Williams after the win

Steven Smillie was stand in stable representative for Brent Stanley in the win of Red Alto in The Stayers Lounge Handicap.

The gelding blew like a north wind; he opened up at $15.00 and finished up at $21.00, with very few takers.

Red Alto was bred and sold as a yearling by Fairways Stud, included in the draft the previous year was Winx.

The gelding was tried as a stayer and failed; he obviously has thrown to the dam, La Sangre, as he is by High Chaparral.

The favourite, Hay Bale, was a little disappointing; he led on the grandstand side of the course but failed to run on.

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Apprentice jockey Jordan Turner and Steven Smillie

Strength prevailed, that was the telling factor in the win of Yogi, the favourite in 1 Oliver St Plate at Flemington.

Johnny Allen, who mixes riding on the flat and jumps riding, got the favourite over the line with sheer desperation; he is an important cog in the Weir machinery.

It is quite common for recognised jumps jockeys to ride on the flat as well, provided they could make the weight.

Hughie Cairns, a New Zealander, was a great exponent of mixing both, he won the Grand National Hurdle in 1917 on Maranqua, and the Melbourne Cup in 1926 on Spearfelt, in the intervening years he rode Heroic in 16 of his 21 wins.

Cairns was killed instantly in a fall from Quick Deal in the Federal Hurdle, in front of the grandstand at Moonee Valley in 1929.

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The versatile John Allen


Racing at Caulfield

High winds forced the abandonment of the last five races at Caulfield on Saturday as a safety precaution.

After the fourth race the jockeys took a deputation to the stewards showing concerns for their safety, the issue was never in doubt, the risks were too great, and common sense had to prevail.

The high winds were rattling the starting gate which was a concern, and is was not abating, some racegoers were surprised by the decision, however in the defence of the jockeys they were out in the open where as the patrons had the grandstands to shield them.

However, there was no reason for the schmozzle in the weighing area, a lot of people put their own interpretation on the issue which was confusing, the stewards are in control, they make the decisions.

Obviously there some lack of communication, as walking off the course Matthew Hill, the official broadcaster, was not sure of what was taking place.

Robert Smerdon trained his 37th winner for the season, when Every Faith got up in virtually the last stride to win the opening race on the program, the Janet Brady Handicap.

The favourite, Sullivan Bay, who really was the form horse of the field, held sway until the home turn, she looked all over a winner until Every Faith and Divine Chills staked their claims.

It was a three way finish, Every Faith getting the decision by the shortest of margins; she was luckly as she was held up on the rails at a crucial stage of the race.

Ryan Moloney doesn’t get the opportunities his ability deserves, he is a very capable rider and strong with it, that was a top ride on the winner.

The mare is going to stud in the coming season, to be mated with Medaglia D’Oro, standing at Darley in New South Wales.

”She will have one more run before she finally goes to stud, she is owned by great supporters of the stable, winners were a bit slow at the beginning of the season, we are really firing up now,” said Robert Smerdon.

Every Faith is by Not A Single Doubt, he has progeny earnings in excess of $10 million in the closing season, her dam Zephyria, is by Zabeel.

Her dam has won twice at 1800 metres, plus her other two foals, Alpine Eagle and Royal Fashion are both winners.

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Every Faith - Last run before going to Stud 

Kiwia was the first leg of a winning double for Darren Weir; hence with just four races run, due to the abandonment, he had won half the races decided.

After Kiwia won his first in the city win at Caulfield, he looked a pretty serious horse, he started favourite and had the race won a long way from home.

The second run at Caulfield two weeks later was right out of character, over the same distance he was well beaten, he never showed up at any stage of the race.

Saturday he came with his game plan, he was never going to get beaten, he was right on the ball at the home turn, ready to draw away when Damian Lane gave the word.

Darren Weir was confident the gelding would improve that is exactly what he has done “I thought he would improve, his mission is likely to be the Bendigo Cup,” said Weir.

He is a good type of gelding by Reset, possibly last time he just had a day off.

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Kiwia rehabilities himself 

Shamport, a $320,000 yearling, made rapid improvement after finishing third at Echuca, earning $2,800, and Saturday’s win in the Join Victorian Breeders Vobis Gold Ingot over 1400 metres, this time stake money to the winner was $82,500.

Whilst he is not out of the woods yet, however he is making steady progress, his nose is pointing in the right direction.

It was a huge jump in direction as there was no form line, yet he opened at $6.00 before drifting out to $9.00.

It was really a big run; he was handy in running for most of the way and let down well when heads were turned for home.

The colt was selected by John Foote for a client of the stable, he is likely to improve, Weir is conscious of his clients, he likes to see them get a return for their outlay.

Whilst he didn’t do anything wrong at Echuca, it was just natural improvement, a colt that is likely to go on with racing.

Weir is a remarkable trainer, he has 250 horses in work and he is hands on with every horse, no one pulls the wool over his eyes

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Shamport - Second leg of a double for Darren Weir.

Saint Valorem gave his rivals a start, and a sound beating, when he took the honours in the Jason Hart Handicap, the race was run fourth and the last run on a nine race card at Caulfield, when racing was terminated due to the high winds.  

The four year old gelding put up an amazing performance, he was last to leave the starting gate and was still last when heads were turned for home.

He is a lightly raced gelding, having just 11 starts, winning four races, and been in the money eight times.

On that run Saturday he is bound to win further races, he is just five years of a age and he is a gelding, this should be his best year.

He is prepared by Cameron Templeton, he has just a small team in work at Pakenham, he is able to give each horse individual attention.

The gelding was ridden by Brian Higgins, he has the perfect score, one ride, one winner at Flemington last week, and a repeat performance at Caulfield on Saturday.

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Saint Valorem  - A amazing performance  



There is an old adage in racing, the more you win the better the price that came to fruition when Riyadh won two weeks at Flemington starting at $10 on Saturday, punters received $13.

He is proving a good money spinner for his trainer Peter Healey who has a small team at Mornington.

“He is really a good horse, he beat a pretty handy field today, he may be reserved for country cups coming into the new season, including the Kyneton Cup.’

Punters who were relying on Darren Weir to start the day with a winner via Ebediyin, were well off the ball as he never flattered at any stage of the race, opening up at $3.70, went into $2.80 before closing at $4.00, he was having his first start since coming from Ireland, he may improve. and he would need to if he is going to win here.

Brandon Stockdale gave a great exhibition of patience with an excellent ride on Dulverton, winning the Wilson Medic Rising Stars at Flemington.

It was his just his second ride back after scalding his arm with boiling water, and had to miss a few meetings as a result.

Melbourne is very well off for young apprentice jockeys, I doubt if we have seen a better bunch in a long time, a trainer could throw a set of colours into the jockey’s room and wouldn’t mind who picked them up.

Stockdale was biding his time before he asked the mare for an effort, in fact he didn’t let her down until they reached the clock tower.

A brilliant ride for one so young, he has a great future ahead of him.

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Brandon Stockdale returning to scale on Dulverton

Darren Weir showed a brand of enthusiasm, even foreign to him, after the success of Anchor Bid after her win in the Byerley Handicap over 1800 metres, genuine staying test which would have been better off being decided earlier in the season, rather than when the season is closing .

Whilst she beat a field of maidens her form line was well above the others, she did finish second behind the star colt, Royal Symphony, at her previous start, also at Flemington.

She is raced by Jonathon Munz, with a sound staying pedigree being by High Chaparral, her dam, Zapurple by Zabeel, won the South Australian Oaks, there is no doubt on pedigree, she will develop into more than a useful staying filly.

No firm plans have been announced as yet, possibly she will be eased up with the view to the Oaks that would increase her residual value.

Obviously they’re only three once and we’ll go home and freshen up for the spring and see how far we can get, the new farm at Maldon (formerly Trevenson Park Stud) could be the key to a quick assault in the spring.”

Weir’s new property at Maldon adjoins Oakford Thoroughbred Farm, the racing stables of the McKnight family where Weir has access to a water walker.

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The winning team

Peter Smith has just a small team in work at Benalla, he seldom comes to town unless it is for a good reason, he has quite an affinity with Flemington.

He struck gold again after quite a period of two years in fact, when Play Master put his best foot forward winning by a narrow margin in the Keith Morrison Handicap, the race named after a former secretary of the Victoria Racing Club.

Strange to say he has had more success with the horses he has bred, than those he has purchased, in particular the sire of Play Master, Masterprint, who passed away two years ago.

Jockey, Luke Currie, and trainer, Peter Smith, are quite good mates, they have joined forces on several occasions in the winner’s circle.

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Peter Smith and Luke Currie

Hay Bale compensated his owner, Tony Penglase, for a narrow defeat two weeks ago at Flemington, reversing the position when he won the final race on the card at headquarters.

He was among the leaders for most of the way and again showed a liking for the straight six.

His sire, Canford Cliffs, was a great racehorse, never out of a place in 10 starts, winning 7 times in the races that count, the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, all at Group 1 level, at his second attempt in the Sussex he had his colours lowered by Frankel.

He only raced in the best of company; his performance in the St James Palace Stakes was overwhelming, good horses got to his girth before he accelerated away from a class field.

Certainly here he has been disappointing, but all good racehorses don’t always make successful sires. 

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Connections of Hay Bale         



Correct weight had not even been declared before offers were made for the impressive previously unraced winner I Did It Again.

He looks the goods on what we saw at Caulfield on Saturday; whilst winter form can be sceptical he was surely a cut above the rest.

His trainer, Greg Eurell, has been down that road before when training a highly promising horse, Explosive Witness, after a win at Moonee Valley, the owners received an offer they couldn’t refuse, the horse was sold to race overseas.

The name of the game has changed, this time Greg holds all the aces, and that is not likely to change as his wife, Danielle, owns I Did It Again.

After last Saturday the gelding will have a couple of weeks off to freshen up before a spring campaign, which is earmarked with the Danehill Stakes, down the straight six at Flemington.

Every trainer is looking for that good horse; it makes it easier to get out of bed on those cold frosty mornings.

Those good horses create a land of opportunity as Wynx has for Chris Waller, he receives lots of exposure, with owners wanting to give him horses to train because of his image, although nothing has changed, he was always a good trainer.

The same applies to Greg Eurell, there was Mic Mac, Pinker Pinker and Apache Cat, they were the memorable stars in their era.

Greg is not going backwards, to the contrary, life is just beginning, the popular Cranbourne trainer has recently moved into ultra modern stables with all facilities that can house 60 horses, with viewed track work from the balcony.

There is always a warm greeting awaiting you from his able secretary Sarah, she understands the racing industry thoroughly after 10 years of service with the Greg Eurell stable.

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Greg Eurell 

Quinton Scott missed seeing his mare Forgeress win at Caulfield on Saturday for a good reason; he was at home convalescing after spending a few days in hospital.

His wife Barbara was the stand in trainer for the day, she passed the test with honours, it was a big thrill for all concerned, particularly for apprentice rider Melissa Julius,she is indentured to trainer Simon Wilde at Warrnambool.

Forgeress drew the outside gate, she was quickly away to be running one off the fence, coming around the turn she was full of running.

She had the favourite Sullivan Bay covered half way up the straight and won coming away.

The mare was purchased by the Bourke family for their father, last August; however, he passed away sadly without ever seeing the mare win.

Her next assignment is likely to be at Flemington in three weeks now that she has struck form, she could easily repeat the win

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Barbara Scott flanked by Sue and Hugh Bourke.



Spanish Reef presented her trainer, Ken Keys, with a big welcome home win in the Rivette Series Final at Flemington, on returning from a break in the U K and Ireland.

The win was impressive as she was solid in the market, however, there were three other fillies preferred to her in betting.

She was always travelling well for Craig Newitt and was never further back than third or fourth with the run of the race.

After winning at Cranbourne and Sandown Ruby Sea was a pronounced favourite, but never appeared likely to win, she got to the girth of the winner and looked like winning for a few strides, but was soon found wanting, she could have had enough for the present.

Summer Glen ran on fairly after disappointing at Wangaratta, there is an easy race for her but it would want to be easy.

The race named after Rivette, winner of the 1939 Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, just after World War 2 commenced, she was a non stud mare, bred owned and trained by Harry Bamber, and ridden by Ted Preston, Rivette her only foal to race of note was River Hero, he was more than a handy sprinter.

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Spanish Reef

Pacodali was always travelling well in the small field of seven runners, there was little margin in betting with the winner and Extra Zero, he is 10 year old, they cannot go on forever.

Weir can improve horses, “this horse is going well in all his lead up races, and the step up in trip was a big plus, it might have looked easy, however, I thought it was a great ride, the plan was to sit back a bit further than normal when pace slowed, as they did, I was pleased that he settled, and full credit to Jye McNeil, the horse was relaxing and I knew he had a good kick at the end of 2000 metres,”he said.

“The horse was in a great rhythm, he was going well on the turn and we knew he could find a bit on the home turn, which he did, we are now looking for a bit of rain to soften the ground and give him a look at 2400 metres race,” he added.

Schism was looking a winner a fair way out, Beau Mertens had her travelling well, she was one you wanted to be on, she was just as impressive as she was at her last start win at Flemington.

Ciaron Maher has trained her out of the paddock, maybe unorthodox but it is achieving results.

“She is a mare in great form, we tried to get a bit of Black Type with her over in Adelaide, we had no luck, however, she is going well now, we may try her in some of the mares races in the early spring.”


Royal Symphony gave his rivals a fair dinkum hiding in the Taj Rossi Series Final after missing the start; he won untroubled by four and a quarter lengths.

The colt has been the star of the winter and is right on track to be the star of the spring; he remains unbeaten after three starts.

He ticks all the boxes with loads of potential, sometimes winter form can be taken with a grain of salt, this time it is likely to be the exception.

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Royal Symphony winning in s breeze

Tony McEvoy is a nob as a trainer; he will iron out all those little quirks, the colt is sure to be a highlight come spring.

Not only is he is a very good colt, he is a knockout as a type, he is just developing, he will shine in the spring.

No doubt the Guineas would be the aim over the mile, that would ensure a stud career, then the autumn for the Australian Guineas and millions would be in the offering. .

He has more potential as a sire winning over 1600 of the Caulfield Guineas metres, than the Derby over 2400 metres.

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Tony McEvoy and Dwayne Dunn  


“He deserved that,” David Hayes comment after the win of Highland Beat in the A R Creswick Series Final at headquarters.

Hayes explained, “I had a query with the horse down the straight, however, it was not a problem, he has another option, the horse was racing pretty forward, he was in the firing line for most of the trip and when it was time to go, he went.”

Now that he is proven down the straight it is a big advantage as the major sprint races are at Flemington, and you are able to place the horse better as he is more versatile.

Hayes said “I would have been supremely confident around the bend, but this time I was in the unknown as to what to expect.”

Highland Beat is by Exceed And Excel, a horse with an amazing turn of foot, a highly successful sire in both hemispheres.

Tony McEvoy chalked up a double after Super Haze put paid to the opposition in the Banjo Patterson Series Final.

He has been racing pretty well of late in Adelaide; he deserved a change of luck, the gelding was one of three rides for Luke Currie.

The gelding raced more forwardly, he was in a winning position at the eight hundred, and within striking distance of the leader on the home turn.

He can easily win again now that he has struck a bit of form; he went to the line well, winning by a length and a quarter.

Super Haze is by High Chaparral, a very successful racehorse and sire, he won the English Derby.

Tassie strikes again in the form of Tshanitsi, who is becoming a regular visitor to the mainland, and in particular, Flemington.

He has now won twice at Flemington and once at Echuca, proving a real money spinner, his stake earnings are well over $300,000, and sea travel holds no fears for him.

He is prepared by Chris Cook and Imogen Miller at Campania; they have done a great job with the horse as there is no racecourse there to my knowledge.

The five year old gelding is by Clangalang, he won the A J C Derby at Randwick and returned in the spring to take out the Epsom Handicap, he never received a chance at stud, he was wasted as a sire in favour of imported horses.

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Imogen Miller joint trainer of Tshahitsi 

Ability showed a lot of that, when he put paid to the opposition in the All Victorian Sprint Final, giving Dwayne Dunn a riding double.

The gelding did have the form on the board and is no stranger to Flemington, no decisions will be made as to whether he goes for a spell or waits for another Flemington meeting.

There were a lot of pluses to back him, it was a bit like put in and take out, he was backed right in to start favourite at $2.90.

Ability is by Reward For Effort, a lightly raced sire with abounding ability, a sire that certainly pays dividends, over raced entires are rarely a success.

Craig Widdison, who formerly shared a training partnership with Peter Morgan, trained his first outright winner at Flemington when Willi Willi won the Silver Bowl Series Final.

Whilst the win was by the shortage of margins it was a solid performance as the favourite, Urban Ruler, had the run of the race, and looked all over a winner until Willi Willi appeared late on the scene.

The win was narrow but never the less a solid performance as he came from a long way back, near last at one stage, and had to go around very horse in the race to get a crack at the leaders in the straight.

Widdison instructed Beau Mertons ,“the gelding would get a fair way back but don’t give up on him, he will be coming home when the others are stopping.”

The instructions were well rehearsed, it was played to the letter, it was all smiles after the race.

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Craig Widdison and Beau Mertens after the win of Willi Willi

Record entries of 1470 yearlings have been received for the Melbourne Racing Club’s   Blue Diamond Stakes, to be decided in early February.

When entries closed for Victoria’s richest two year old race, entries were increased by a healthy 6.44 per cent on last year, when 1381 youngsters were nominated.    

The Blue Diamond Stakes is a great inclusion into the autumn carnival, it gets people talking and it is a wonderful attraction to Melbourne.

The Blue Diamond Stakes was first decided in 1971 with stake of $12,000, finally reaching an all time stake record of now $1.5 million.

Tolerance was the inaugural winner of the race, he was by Better Boy, best sire ever to stand in Victoria, he was trained by the master trainer, Angus Armanasco, and ridden by Roy Higgins, he rode four winners of the race, besides Tolerance, Blazing Saddles, Star Shower and Lord Dudley, they were all top two year olds of their year.

 The Australian Turf Club has attracted a record 2,197 entries for the running of the sixty second edition of the 2018 running of the Golden Slipper Stakes, to be decided on 24th March 2018

Leading stables throughout Australia with the highest number of nominations include Godolphin 152, David Hayes and Ben Hayes and Dabernig (111),Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott (90), Chris Waller (87), and Peter and Paul Snowden (74), Tony McEvoy (61), and Ciaron Maher(61)

Leading sires with the most number of entries include Snitzel (105), I Am Invincible (98), Sebring (80), Pierro (74), Exceed And Excel (69), Fastnet Rock (63), All Too Hard (59).

Sixty years have passed so quickly, the colt referred to as the flying machine, Todman, set tongues wagging.

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Credit to George Ryder, he was the creator of the Golden Slipper Stakes when chairman of the Sydney Turf Club at Rosehill.


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