Morning Briefing

Australia Latest

Tempo to help Camelot

Danny O’Brien has reiterated his belief that Cox Plate (Gr 1, 2040m) favourite Russian Camelot (Camelot) will relish a stronger tempo than he did in the Caulfield Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) when defeated by the reopposing Arcadia Queen (Pierro). “The Cox Plate will be run at a much faster clip than the Caulfield Stakes, which will suit Russian Camelot,” O’Brien said. “In the finish Arcadia Queen, who is a top-class horse, reeled off the fastest last 200 metres for the day so his effort was very good. It’s hard to hold out a sprint like that.” As expected, Damien Oliver will maintain his association with the northern hemisphere-bred four-year-old at Moonee Valley on Saturday.

Grandslam paid up for Cox Plate
Grandslam (My Boy Charlie) is set to line up in Saturday’s 100th running of the Cox Plate after connections decided to pay the $200,000 entry fee to gain him entry into the race. However, it does not confirm his place in the $5 million contest as Moonee Valley Racing Club will decide on the final field, with connections having to pay another $200,000 acceptance fee this morning. Grandslam, who has won just one of his six starts, was last seen finishing third behind Ole Kirk (Written Tycoon) and Aysar (Deepfield) in the Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) on October 10. His only win to date came back in April when taking out a Benchmark 66 (1250m) at Morphettville. 

Boss confident in Sir Dragonet

Glen Boss is confident his Cox Plate mount Sir Dragonet (Camelot) can upset market leaders Russian Camelot and Arcadia Queen in Saturday’s feature. Sir Dragonet, who arrived from Aidan O’Brien’s yard in Ireland over a fortnight ago, has been in quarantine at Werribee’s International Horse Centre. “From all reports he is doing very well in the quarantine,” Boss told “They’re the ones that run well, the ones that are thriving. He seems to be doing all the right things at the moment. I won’t see him until the day, but I would have had a lot of phone calls and talked about him a lot by then.” Arcadia Queen defeated Russian Camelot by a length and a quarter in the Caulfield Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) on October 10 and Boss believes his mount could the better of them both.”He obviously has to bring his form, but if he can bring anywhere near his rating then he is going to be right in the race. You’d have to put him right up there.”

Half-kilogram penalty for Verry Elleegant

Connections of Verry Elleegant (Zed) have confirmed their star mare will contest the Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) after being handed a 0.5 kilogram penalty following her win in the Caulfield Cup (Gr 1, 2400m) on Saturday. She will now carry 55.5 kilograms in the Flemington feature and part-owner Brae Sokolski is content with the penalty. “Chris (Waller, trainer) is very happy with the way she came through it and he was happy for her to take that extra weight, so it’s on to the Melbourne Cup,’’ Sokolski told “She already had a decent weight but you can understand her getting a penalty because of the class of the field and the horse (Anthony Van Dyck) she beat.’’ Verry Elleegant will bid to become the first horse to complete the Cups double since Ethereal (Rhythm) in 2001.

Prime Star given chance in Bondi

Michael Freedman is convinced Prime Star (Starspangledbanner) will appreciate a distance rise when he faces a rematch with his last-start conqueror Peltzer (So You Think) in the $1 million Bondi Stakes (1600m). Peltzer led and held on to beat the fast-finishing Prime Star over 1500 metres in the Stan Fox Stakes (Gr 2, 1500m) but Freedman is hoping his charge can turn the tables over a mile at Randwick on Saturday. “His run here the other day was terrific and he has trained on from that,” Freedman said. “The way he ran out that 1500 metres in a race that was probably set up for the leaders, I thought it was a really good test for him, and I don’t think the mile should worry him.” Kerrin McEvoy rode Prime Star last start but he will be in Melbourne on Saturday to partner Probabeel (Savabeel) in the Cox Plate and Freedman confirmed Tommy Berry had been booked as his replacement.

Mackinnon mission for Melody Belle
Melody Belle (Commands) will line up in next month’s Mackinnon Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) at Flemington in a bid to secure her 13th elite-level win. The six-year-old mare took out the Livamol Classic (Gr 1, 2040m) at Hastings on Saturday and trainer Jamie Richards confirmed yesterday that she will head back to Australia. Te Akau Racing announced on Twitter: “Melody Belle heads back to Australia, Jamie Richards has confirmed, for a hit & run mission to again contest the Group 1 Mackinnon in which she was a brave runner up to Magic Wand last season – unfinished business.”

Vanna Girl to continue spring prep
Vanna Girl (Husson) will target the $500,000 Rosehill Gold Cup (2000m) later this month after connections revealed she pulled up well following her third-placed finish in the Craven Plate (Gr 3, 2000m) on Saturday. The Toby and Trent Edmonds-trained four-year-old finished behind Think It Over (So You Think) and Nettoyer (Sebring) in the Craven, a performance the training operation were delighted with. “Our stable star mare pulled up well from her excellent performance in the Group 3 Craven Plate,” Edmonds Racing said on Twitter. “It is the best she has bounced out of a race this preparation and fourth-up staying at 2000m for the $500,000 Rosehill Gold Cup on October 31 looks ideal all being well.”

Bitter blow for It’s Me’s connections

Unbeaten mare It’s Me (Shamus Award), who won her fourth race when overcoming trouble to take out the $1.3 million Kosciuszko (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday, faces an uncertain future after suffering a tendon injury. The Brett Cavanough-trained four-year-old, whose racetrack career only began in August, was yesterday found to have suffered a tendon injury, the second time she has suffered the same issue. “She’ll be immediately spelled and will begin rehabilitation with no timeframes set or known on a return at this stage,” owner Grand Syndicates posted on Twitter yesterday. It’s Me had progressed from a Scone maiden victory before taking out two Highway Handicaps in Sydney on her way to Saturday’s lucrative win. 

Supergiant sidelined

The persistent hoof problems plaguing Supergiant (Red Giant) have forced his trainer Michael Costa to abandon an interstate trip. Costa decided to spell Supergiant after the four-year-old’s failure at Toowoomba on Weetwood Handicap (Listed, 1200m) day. “Unfortunately, Supergiant did let down and he pulled up sore,” Costa said. “He was probably three out of five lame with a bit of a hoof issue.” Supergiant developed a corn in a hoof after he was beaten first up from a spell at Eagle Farm in August. Costa was confident the four-year-old had recovered from that problem but his Toowoomba defeat prompted a rethink. “Supergiant just didn’t come to hand this time in,” Costa continued. “It’s not due to his ability. It’s just he had a few things holding him back with his feet and I’m sure we’ll get that resolved into his next preparation.”

Golden Eagle order of entry released
Racing NSW yesterday announced the order of entry for the $7.5million Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill on October 31. A total of 90 horses are included on the ballot, with the number one spot behind shared between six horses: Alligator Blood (All Too Hard), Dawn Passage (Dawn Approach), Riodini (Proisir), Flit (Medaglia D’Oro), Funstar (Adelaide) and Probabeel (Savabeel). The Chris Waller-trained Kolding (Ocean Park) landed the 2019 Golden Eagle following victory in the Epsom Handicap (Gr 1, 1600m) and the Jamie Richards-trained Probabeel will be aiming to follow suit, having defeated Funstar and Riodini in the Epsom on October 3. 

Guys to continue hot form

Bryan Guy and his son Daniel have been in fine form of late and they are hoping to carry their recent success into Ipswich’s meeting tomorrow. Guy, who won the Queensland trainers’ premiership in 2006-07, is having a successful year with Daniel, with 11 wins at a strike-rate of 18 per cent. They hope that will be extended by either Eagles Forever (Tornado) or Niab (Pride Of Dubai), who both line-up in the QTIS Three-Year-Old Handicap (1710m). “We’re going good at the moment and I’ve been told from our last 50 runners we have a 75 per cent strikerate to finish in the first five,” Bryan Guy told Racing Queensland. “It goes to show it’s a lot different when you have some nice horses to train. Eagles Forever will lead and Niab will be running second. It’s too hard to separate them as there’s nothing between them in their work.”

Alligator Blood named Queensland Horse of the Year 

Group 1 winner Alligator Blood has taken out the state’s top prize at the 2020 TAB Queensland Thoroughbred Awards. The David Vandyke-trained gelding enjoyed a stellar 2019/20 season, notching up seven wins from ten starts, headlined by his dominant Australian Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) triumph at Flemington in February. He was also named the Three-Year-Old Horse of the Year. “It’s a great honour, it is certainly the icing on the cake of what has been an incredible season for Alligator Blood,” Vandyke said. “I’m so proud of him, he was given a lot of tests throughout the season and we kept lifting the bar for him and he kept jumping over it – he showed everyone how tough he is. With any hope we thought he could be a Group 1 winner, but I probably didn’t think there was anything exceptional that set him apart from some of the others in my stable of the same age. To see how he has progressed, culminating with a Group 1 win at Flemington, it has been a fantastic season for Alligator Blood.”

Weir, McLean, Kermond to stand trial

Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Darren Weir, along with his former stable workers Tyson Kermond and Jarrod McLean, have been accused of conspiring to cheat and defraud Racing Victoria stewards. The trio will stand trial after pleading not guilty to the charges in a remote hearing in the Ballarat Magistrates Court. The allegation regards the use of an electronic “jigger” device on Yogi (Raise The Flag), Red Cardinal (Montjeu) and Tosen Basil (Harbinger) during the 2018 Spring Racing Carnival.  They will return to court for a directions hearing on November 19.

O’Dea and Hoysted join forces
Steven O’Dea and Matt Hoysted have entered into a training partnership. Hoysted has been assistant trainer to O’Dea having joined the stable from Tony Gollan in July 2016. “I have full faith in Matt’s ability as a trainer, he is a hard-working and dedicated horseman, with excellent attention to detail,” said O’Dea. “In the modern era of horse training, partnerships are becoming more and more common and for good reason. It is a relentless seven day a week job that can only be improved with a second set of eyes and hands on board.” Hoysted added: “I’m really looking forward to this next chapter of my career. Steve and I have always worked well together and it’s very exciting to see what the future holds for the stable.”

Training treble for Michelle Payne

Michelle Payne brought up her first treble as a trainer at Mornington yesterday, while also becoming the first Victorian dual-license holder to train and ride multiple winners at a single meeting. Payne rode both Think Champayne (So You Think) and Argus (Press Statement) to victory, with apprentice Campbell Rawiller winning on Cape Victory (Dawn Approach). “It’s really nice,” Payne told “We’ve got a great team at home and they work really hard. It (training) has its challenges but I love training on the farm at home in Ballarat, Stevie (Payne, brother) is there every day and it’s a really good environment. Sometimes it gets a bit tricky but you just have to remind yourself why we do what we do and how lucky we are to have the job we have.”

Newitt incurs whip ban

Craig Newitt has received an eight-meeting suspension for overusing the whip at Kilmore on Sunday. Newitt, who is already missing the Cox Plate Carnival on a careless riding charge, will now also miss Flemington’s Derby Day meeting, with the ban beginning at midnight on October 26 and ending at midnight on November 2. Newitt pleaded guilty to using his whip three times more than permitted prior to the final 100 metres while riding the unplaced Dandre (Wanted) in race four at Kilmore. He was also fined $200. Meanwhile, Brian Park was suspended for eight meetings for careless riding in race five and Jason Maskiell got the same ban for the same charge for his ride in race six.

Record prize-money paid out by RV

Racing Victoria yesterday released its results for the 2019-20 financial year ending June 30, 2020 and reported a record-breaking year for prize-money, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. $229.2 million in prize-money was paid by RV during the financial year, a rise of 4.6 per cent from the previous year. The report also noted a nation-high average for prize-money and bonuses on offer per race of $59,709. “FY20 was a financial year like no other with a once-in-a-century event dramatically changing the landscape for thoroughbred racing in Victoria and indeed globally,” said Racing Victoria chief executive, Giles Thompson. “Despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the necessary mitigation initiatives, Racing Victoria still paid out record prize-money in FY20 and Victorian racing still generated record turnover, in excess of $7 billion for the second financial year.”