Winner of non-stakes race at end of Flemington carnival surprises with outstanding sectionals
After four days of some of the best racing of the season in Australia, a sectional times star surprisingly emerged in winning the Benchmark 80 (1100m) at Flemington on Saturday – one of a small number of non-stakes races at the carnival.
He was the Danny O’Brien-trained gelding Order Of Command (Squamosa), who had settled back in 12th place before producing a great turn of foot under Damien Oliver and fighting back for a comfortable neck win in a time of 1:03.28.
But it was his sectional times that impressed; Order Of Command’s 200 metre breakdown (from the 1000m) was 10.71, 10.56 (400m in 21.27), 10.56 (600m in 31.83), 11.16 (800m in 42.99) and 11.75 to give him a very fast 1000 metres in 54.74, the fastest of the day.
It was the lightly-raced Order Of Command’s ninth start and his third win (with four placings) and his first run since finishing second to Brave Song (Your Song) in a Three-Year-Old Handicap (1100m) at Flemington in July.
Also noteworthy was Order Of Command’s prior start, in which he ran on for second to the highly talented sprinter Nature Strip (Nicconi) in the Creswick Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Flemington on July 7.
His effort in winning on Saturday, supported by that earlier promising form, suggests that Order Of Command is likely to be effective in sprints at stakes level in future.
The feature sprint at Flemington on Saturday saw the Anthony Freedman-trained Santa Ana Lane (Lope De Vega) record his fourth Group 1 victory in taking out the VRC Sprint Classic (Gr 1, 1200m).
Settling back in the field as usual, Santa Ana Lane produced his now trademark final burst before scoring by a neck from In Her Time (Time Thief) with the dead-heaters Jungle Cat (Iffraaj) and Pierata (Pierro) sharing third, a length and half further back in the fast time of 1:08.66.
Santa Ana Lane was suited by sitting back off a quick tempo, set by the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained mare Invincible Star (I Am Invincible) who clocked – from the 1000 metre point to the 200 metres – 22.65 (400m) 33.83 (600m) and 45.05 (800m) before fading to finish 12th.
That quick early tempo also took its toll on the favourite Redzel (Snitzel), who raced close to the speedy Invincible Star, Redzel weakening over the latter stages for fifth after clocking (from the barrier) a fast 56.84 for his first 1000 metres of the race.
It was significant that the first four past the post all raced back off that pace, with Santa Ana Lane producing fast closing sectionals, his last 1000 metres in 56.42, last 800 metres in 44.90, last 600 metres in 33.50, last 400 metres in 22.51 with his final 200 metres in 11.54.
In the Mackinnon Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m), the somewhat underrated Trap For Fools (Poet’s Voice), who featured recently in this column after setting a fast mid-race tempo before a game second in the Moonee Valley Cup (Gr 2, 250m), was ridden less aggressively on this occasion.
Jockey John Allen rated Trap For Fools well in front, the gelding clocking a moderate first 1200 metres from the barrier, in 1.15.32 (12.55 200m rate) before lifting the tempo from the 800 metres to see him clock a smart 46.98 (11.65 200m) for that final section.
Both the runner-up, the Irish Derby (Gr 1, 1m 4f) winner Latrobe (Camelot) and third-placed Extra Brut (Domesday(, winner the Victoria Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) the week prior, both produced impressive closing sectionals in coming from eighth and tenth, respectively.
Latrobe clocked 58.41 (last 1000m), 46.20 (last 800m), 34.80 (last 600m) and 23.55 (last 400m) while Extra Brut clocked 58.73 (last 1000m), 46.69 (last 800m), 35.24 (last 600m) and 24.10 for his last 400 metres.
But surprisingly, they were not the fastest closing times of the race, those mostly being recorded by the Empire Rose Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) winner Shillelagh (Savabeel), who made ground for an unlucky fifth after being checked in the straight.
Shillelagh was timed to run her last 1000 metres in 58.64, 46.38 (last 800m), 34.89 (last 600m) with her final 200 metres in 23.84.
Earlier in the day, jockey John Allen who rode a winning treble on Saturday, produced a skilful ride aboard the Darren Weir-trained mare Kenedna (Not A Single Doubt) in taking out the Matriarch Stakes (Gr 2, 2000m).
Sitting off a moderate early pace, in sixth spot on the rails, Kenedna took a while to wind up in the sprint home, before producing fast late sectionals to record her fifth stakes victory in 21 starts.
Kenedna’s 200 metre breakdown over the latter stages was impressive; from the 600 metres clocking 10.97, 10.94 (400m in 21.91) and 11.31 to give her a fast final 600 metre time of 33.22.
The final word this week goes to the highly consistent John Thompson-trained gelding Dreamforce (Fastnet Rock) who took his record to nine wins (with seven placings) in 21 starts in fighting back to take out the Chatham Stakes (Gr 3, 1400m) in the quick time of 1:22.12.
He showed good pace to cross from a wide barrier (11) to lead but was then pressured in front, and he did a very good job in winning after recording fast early sectionals.
Dreamforce (from the 1200m) was timed to run 400 metres in 22.02, 600 metres in 33.2, 800 metres in 44.68 with his 1000 metres (to the 200m mark) in a fast 56.79.
To score at his third run back, after clocking such quick early times was strong indication that Dreamforce is likely to keep progressing through the classes this preparation.
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