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Still hard to believe just how slow the mid-race pace was in the Caulfield Cup

Ken Boman | 26.10.2018

Even taking into account the rain-affected conditions, it remains hard to believe that the mid-race pace of the 2018 Caulfield Cup (Gr 1, 2400m) could have been run at such a slow tempo.

In somewhat of a surprise, the leader was the 2017 Victoria Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) winner Ace High (High Chaparral), who went to the front in the early stages due to the initiative of Damien Oliver.

The leading rider was then able to keep steadying the pace that actually resulted in two mid-race 200 metre sections being clocked in a dawdling 14.00 and 14.04.

That is extraordinarily slow in any metropolitan race let alone in a famous race like the Caulfield Cup, carrying $5 million in prize-money.

Ace High led the field until approaching the 800 metre mark – after his first 1600 metres was covered in 1:45.88, a 200 metre rate of 13.23.

At that point, James McDonald could not sit back in the field any longer and he rushed The Taj Mahal (Galileo) forward to hit the front at the 800 metres, a move promptly followed by Pat Cosgrove on the ultimate winner Best Solution (Kodiac).

That pair finally lifting the pace which resulted in the final 800 metres being clocked in 47.67 (11.91 200m rate).

Victory going to a game Best Solution by a half-head from Homesman (War Front), who fought on strongly after being handily placed all the way, with The Cliffsofmoher (Galileo) making late ground for third, almost two lengths further back.

Time for the 2400 metre distance was 2:33.72 on a track officially rated as slow 6 (some views being that it was into the heavy range) – but even allowing for the conditions that was 8.40 seconds outside the track record of 2:25.32.

Best Solution’s performance was full of merit, despite the disappointing time for the 2400 metres, overcoming barrier 15 and working hard in the early stages, plus making another move at the 800 metres and then fighting courageously under his top weight (57.5kg) to score in a photo.

So too the third-placed The Cliffsofmoher, who was one of the victims of the pedestrian pace, in needing to make ground from back in tenth place when the sprint home commenced at the 800 metres.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained entire had only run his first 1600 metres in 1:46.51 (13.31 200m rate) and was then timed to run his final 800 metres in 47.50 (11.87 200m rate).

The Queensland Oaks (Gr 1, 2200m) winner Youngstar (High Chaparral) was also greatly disadvantaged by the tempo, making ground from 15th at the 800 metres for seventh after clocking 1:46.06 (13.36 200m rate) for her first 1600 metres, and then 47.59 (11.89 200m rate) for her final 800 metres.

Earlier in the day the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained colt Thinkin’ Big (High Chaparral) impressed with his win in the Ladbrokes Classic (registered as Caulfield Classic) (Gr 3, 2000m), albeit as a beneficiary of a race that also featured a pedestrian mid-race tempo.

Thinkin’ Big was rated very well in the lead by Tim Clark, before dashing away to score by three lengths, claiming favouritism for the upcoming Victoria Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) in the process.

Time for the 2000 metre journey was 2:06.79, which was 1.26 slower than Verry Elleegant (Zed) recorded in winning the three-year-old fillies’ Ethereal Stakes (Gr 3, 2000m) – the first 1400 metres clocking 1:31.06 (13.00 200m rate) with the final 600 metres in 35.73 (11.91 200m rate).

Nevertheless, Thinkin’ Big’s sectionals were interesting with three defined contrasting sections.

Tim Clark was keen to get the colt to the front, clocking (from the barrier) 37.03 for the first 600 metres (12.12, 12.21 and 12.70) but then he took the pace right out of the race, clocking the 600 metres (from the 1400m to the 800m) in an extremely slow 40.36 (13.45 200m rate).

The pace lifted quickly from that point with Thinkin’ Big running 47.96 for his final 800 metres (12.24, 11.98, 11.57 and 12.18) to win easily, running the 2000 metres out in a manner to suggest the 2500 metres of the Victoria Derby is well within his capabilities.

But all the races as Caulfield were not run along the lines of the aforementioned events, most notably the Toby Edmonds-trained filly From Within (Not A Single Doubt) who set a very strong pace and then showed her quality in fighting back to win the Alinghi Stakes (Listed, 1100m).

Time for the 1100 metre distance was 1:04.88 (11.79 200m) rate, equivalent to 1200 metres in a smart 1:10.77 on the soft 6 track.

From Within’s early sectionals really impressed, her 200 metre breakdown (from the 1000 metres) was 10.79, 10.88 (400m in 21.67), 11.54 to give her a fast 600 metre section in 33.21 – from the 1000 metres to the 400 metre point.

She then clocked 11.55 and 12.78 for a final 400 metres in 24.33, recording 57.40 for her final 1000 metres.

From Within looked really promising after starting her career with leading trainer Chris Waller but surprisingly did not live up to that potential for some reason or another.

But she is back on track with Gold Coast trainer Toby Edmonds, winning her last four races in succession, following two wins at Sunshine Coast and one at Doomben with her victory at stakes level at Caulfield on Saturday.

The other quickly run race was the Caulfield Sprint (Gr 2, 1000m) taken out by the lightly-raced but very talented five-year-old Eduardo (Host).

Not beginning his racing career until a late four-year-old when he joined the small Cranbourne stable of Sarah Zcshoke, Eduardo has made a meteoric rise in five starts with three wins and two seconds, going from a maiden to a Group 2 winner in the space of four months.

On this occasion, his rider Brian Park was pleasingly able to ease Eduardo just off the pace before the gelding sprinted quickly to win by just over a length in the quick time of 58.43 on the soft 6 track.

As highlighted previously in On The Watch, Eduardo has high speed and he again showed that in his 200 metre breakdown (from the 800m) of 10.42, 11.37 (400m in 21.79), 11.39 (600m in 33.18) and 12.10 to give him a fast last 800 metres in 45.28.

Eduardo is now to be spelled and is well capable of progressing to even better things next preparation.

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