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Horses for courses

An old proven racing term, “horses for courses”, popped up again on Saturday with the win OF Playwright, he has an affinity with Flemington where he is trained.

Some horses wouldn’t care where they raced, however, the seven year old gelding has his likes and dislikes, he performs best where he is trained at headquarters and he is not likely to change his mind now at this stage of his life.

He wasn’t at home on the tight turning track at Pakenham in the Cup and when the track was declared heavy, that was the end of the penny section, he lost all interest in affairs.

Flemington on Saturday was his forte, he needed little kidding to do his best, first out of the gate, he quickly settled at the head of affairs, with nothing taking him on in the early stages of the race.

Playwright Custom

Playwright - Leading all the way

He was ridden the perfect race by former Perth apprentice Damian Lane, he rated the horse well, firstly he was taken on by Module, then Laristan and then Chasse, they all had a go, however, Playwright fought them all off, one after the other, running out a comfortable winner doing as well as anything on the line.

The win was a great turnaround for trainer Steve Richards, once the barriers were drawn earlier in the week, he knew the gelding would be hard to beat from barrier two.

Playwright has been going terrific this time in as Richards put it, perfect barrier, perfect race, perfect ride, everything was made to order.

Damia Lane Custom

 Damian Lane with Steve Richards 



Racing Victoria’s decision to appoint ex jockeys, as track walker, is a positive approach to confront the problems concerning track ratings.

Jockeys are the most experienced sector of the entire racing industry with the ability to assess tracks; they have seen plenty of them over their riding careers.

This was never going to be a job for an academic, a person that sits behind a desk; there is no substitute for experience.

The announcement of the appointment of former jockey, Sam Hyland, as a track walker is a move in the right direction, other appointments will be made in due course.

Hyland will oversee the following tracks, Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, Kilmore, Kyneton, Cranbourne, Mornington, Pakenham, Sale, Seymour, Werribee, Geelong, Moe and Warrnambool.

Ephiopa was not your usual maiden that wins a Derby, he was showing tons of promise, and it was just a matter of time for when it would all fall into place, however, it all fell into place quicker than most would have expected, a mere nine weeks from being placed in a Maiden at Sale, to the winner’s cheque of $900.000 for the blue riband at Royal Randwick.

Ephiopa really came under notice when he flashed home to finish third at Caulfield in the Autumn Classic to Upbeat and Flashy Fella, and did nothing wrong when second to Highly Recommended in the Alister Clark Stakes, beaten a half length on a track that would not have suited his style of racing.

Pat Carey is playing it cool, he always does, he has had his moment of glory, which he so richly deserves, Classics are never handed to you on a plate, and they have to be won.

For all that Carey is allowing the dust to settle, there are no immediate Cup visions, at this stage he will allow the gelding to tell him if he is likely to be a Spring candidate, “there is a high attrition rate on four year olds” said Carey.

Americain is a likely starter in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick, that will be his third start for the autumn before going to the spelling paddock.  

 It would be most unlikely he would go to stud in the coming spring; David Hayes intention is to freashen the entire up and have a tilt at the Cox Plate.

He has already won at Moonee Valley but whether he is sharp enough to win a Cox Plate will be interesting. 


Big week for Danny O’Brien

Danny O’Brien had good reason to be on cloud nine at Flemington on Saturday, earlier in the week he received the opportunity to train the half sister to Black Caviar, purchased at the Sydney Sales for $2.6 million, and winning with Placement at headquarters.

The consistent filly was always travelling well in running, she was never far off the pace and also the advantage of the claim for Katelyn  Mallyon.

Placement has done a terrific job for the O’Brien stable, she has now been in the money 20 times from her 34 starts, she is described by her trainer as a tough little filly who turns up every week and runs super.

While Placement has done a great job to date, the same could be said of her rider, Katelyn Mallyon, who has put together 16 city winners in her short riding career.

It was quite a week-end for her, besides winning on Placement at Flemington; she was up in Sydney on Friday for the apprentice’s race at Canterbury, where she won on Spot The Rock for Rosehill trainer, Tim Martin.

She is quite a competent young rider with natural skills, she sits close to the saddle and doesn’t climb over the top of her mounts as some of her male counterparts.

Placement Custom

Placement - skipping away from her opposition  


Maury - Impressive winner

Maury, who showed a good turn of foot at the conclusion of the Living Legends Handicap at Flemington, will have another run before being sent for a spell.

The gelding was always racing handy to the leaders with his rider, Mark Zahra, finding plenty of room for him on the outside, once he let down it was just a matter of how far, and he carried too many guns for those that opposed him on Saturday.

Glenn Thompson, assistant to his brother John, is keeping the Patinack operation buoyant, with eight city winners to date from the Flemington yard.

Maury, a good cut of a gelding, continues to improve all the time, he had just the two previous outings, for an unplaced run at Cranbourne and went to Flemington as a last start winner at Kilmore.

There is a race at Moonee Valley coming up that may suit, otherwise he will go straight to Aberdeen, in the Hunter Valley, where all the Patinack racing stock spell.

Of the unplaced division  Maluti  was running on fairly well, first starter,  Pillar Of Creation , came from further back in the field giving the impression he would be better  suited over more ground. 

Maury Custom

Maury ridden by Mark Zahra


Spartini graduates to City Company

Spartini, who has laying them in the aisles on country tracks, put paid to city company in winning the Bill Adams Handicap at Caulfield, the race named after a former long standing committeeman.

She was the one that punters wanted, opening at $2.50, easing out to $2.70 when money came for Beldara and to a lesser extent for Sussoro, who also tightened up near the close of betting.

The filly is prepared by Darren Weir, and ridden at her previous two wins at Bendigo and Kilmore by Nick Hall, he thoroughly understands the filly and had her handily placed for the entire trip.

She quickly cruised up to Beldara, her main rival in betting, drawing away soon after finishing the race off well, there is another race for her back at Caulfield which will suit.

Spartini is by the little unknown sire Marmottam, one of 14 sons of Redoute’s Choice that was advertised at stud in 2007, he currently stands at Walnaring Stud at Wallan East.

Whilst he has a nice pedigree, with his dam and grand dam both city winners, the fickle breeding industry has labeled him as non commercial, which is the death nail for a sire.

You could count the number of mares he receives each season on one hand, yet on percentages he has a better record than some of the imports that are covering 100 mares or more.

Whilst he has lacked the opportunities and support he can get winners if given the chance, Spartini is an example with seven wins to date, Call The Day has won five races out of six starts in Adelaide and Lady Lightfoot has won her last two, and could make it three at Balaklava on Wednesday.

Spartini - Another winner for Darren Weir


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