On The Watch

A cracking mid-race pace turned the All-Star Mile into a stern test of stamina

A cracking mid-race pace set by the free-running filly Flit (Medaglia D’Oro) turned Saturday’s $5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield into a stern test, perhaps bringing about the defeat of the favourite Alligator Blood (All Too Hard) who missed a place for the first time in his career.

“Flit wants it over and done with,” was the appropriate remark by track commentator Matthew Hill as the filly was tearing away in front.

The Godolphin-raced filly, winner of the Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) at Caulfield in October, who now races in blinkers, worked across from her outside barrier (15) to lead, but then proved difficult for experienced rider Damian Lane to rate as she soon established a clear advantage over the field.

Those immediately chasing her in second and third places being the Group 1 winners Streets Of Avalon (Magnus) and the favourite Alligator Blood.

Flit’s 200 metre breakdown (from the 1400m to the 400m) told the story: 11.37, 11.66 (400m in 23.03), 11.60 (600m in 34.63), 11.69 (800m in 46.32) and 12.24 for a testing mid-race 1000 metre section of 58.56.

At that point, Alligator Blood and Streets Of Avalon were reeling in Flit, with the favourite hitting the front at the 300 metres before his efforts told and he faded to finish tenth, with Streets Of Avalon tiring for 12th and Flit dropping out to finish 14th and second-last.

The winner Regal Power (Pierro) was suited by the tempo, a WATC Derby (Gr 2, 2400m) winner who had been nicely rated by William Pike back in fourth place that fought back to win by three-quarters of a length from his late-closing stablemate Superstorm (Sebring).

Regal Power was timed to run his last 1400 metres in 1.22.36, last 1200 metres in 1.10.56, last 1000 metres in 58.67, last 800 metres in 46.89, last 600m metres in 35.03, last 400 metres in 23.38 with his final 200 metres in 11.92.

While Superstorm, who was runner-up to Alligator Blood in the recent Australian Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) at Flemington, returned the fastest closing sectionals of the race in coming from near the tail of the 15-runner field.

Superstorm was clocked to run his last 1400 metres in 1.21.76, last 1200 metres in 1:09.55, last 1000 metres in 57.57, last 800 metres in 45.65, last 600 metres 34.25, last 400 metres in 22.74 with his final 200 metres in 11.60 – impressive closing times.

Third was the multiple Group 1-winning mare Melody Belle (Commands), who finished a half-length further back after travelling in sixth spot on the rails before battling on well for the minor placing at her second run back.

Melody Belle clocked 1:22.82 (last 1400m), 1:10.76 (last 1200m), 58.70 (last 1000m), 46.84 (last 800m), 35.32 (last 600m), 23.61 (last 400m) and 11.95 for her final 200 metres.

Earlier in the programme, the Levi Kavanagh-trained gelding Excess Funds (Rubick) stamped his potential in winning the $500,000 Inglis Dash (1100m), for three-year-olds.

Excess Funds settled in fifth place under Hugh Bowman behind a quick pace, before going on to win by a length and a quarter from the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained colt Wayupinthesky (Snitzel) in the good time of 1:03.27 (11.50 200m rate), equivalent to 1200 metres in 1:09.02.

The winner’s sectional times were really quite impressive with his last 1000 metres in 55.18, last 800 metres in 44.53, last 600 metres in 33.94, last 400 metres in 22.80 and his final 200 metres in 11.72 – the fastest closing sectionals of the race.

Other juveniles to impress on the watch on Saturday included the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained colt Prague (Redoute’s Choice) who tracked a quick tempo before taking out the Pago Pago Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) at Rosehill.

Racing on a Soft 6 track in one of the early races at the meeting where continuous rain resulted in the latter races being downgraded to Heavy 10, Prague showed determination under Tom Marquard to defeat Kumasi (Snitzel) after quite a battle in the straight.

 Despite the affected conditions, the race featured a quick mid-race section of 46.71 (from the 1000m to the 200m) set by the leader Postcode (Vancouver) who subsequently tired for fifth.

 That resulted in smart closing sectionals, Prague clocking 59.07 (last 1000m), 47.66 (last 800m), 35.66 (last 600m) and 23.99 for his final 400 metres.

 The third-placed Team Hawkes-trained colt Swerving (I Am Invincible) also deserves highlighting after coming from back in sixth place on the rails to take the minor placing in Group class when having only his second race start.

Swerving’s closing sectionals were good, especially considering the wet track, the colt clocking 59.12 (last 100m), 47.68 (last 800m), 35.66 (last 600m) and 24.12 for his final 400 metres.

The Godolphin-raced filly Thermosphere (Exosphere) stepped up quickly in class after winning a two-year-old maiden (1300m) at Newcastle-Beaumont on February 27, when having her third start and recording a good win in the Magic Night Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m)

 After settling just beyond midfield, she improved behind runners nearing the turn, got into clear running at the 200 metres, and then came with a strong late run to win by a long neck.

 Thermosphere clocked her last 1000 metres in 59.55 (last 1000m), 48.51 (last 800m), last 600 metres in 36.56 with her final 400 metres in 24.29.