On The Watch

Moonee Valley’s Australia Stakes Meeting Produces Several Sectional Times Stars

The opening race, the Maiden Plate (1200m) saw the debut performance of the Irish-bred four-year-old Handsome Thief (Shamardal) and his effort suggested that he is a horse with a very bright future in Australia.

Raced by Paul Fudge’s Waratah Thoroughbreds and trained by Darren Weir, Handsome Thief could not have been more impressive, racing away in the straight to score by three and three quarter lengths.

After a quick beginning, he settled nicely in fourth place, before Brad Rawiller moved him up coming to the home turn. Handsome Thief dashed to the front on straightening and then raced away to win brilliantly in the smart time of 1:10.41.

Clocked from the 1000 metre point, Handsome Thief ran 200 metre sections of 11.01, 11.69 (400m in 22.70), 11.51 (600m in 34.00), 11.00 (800m in 45.21) and 11.11 to give Handsome Thief a fast final 1000 metres in 56.32.

The following race, the Two-Year-Old Plate (1000m) saw the filly Blondie (Reward For Effort) stage and excellent effort, also winning impressively on debut.

A feature of her win was the fact that Blondie had to overcome a taxing early pace in crossing from barrier seven to find the lead but despite that she then went on to score in good style by a length and three quarters in a smart 58.17.

Clocked from the 800 metre mark, Blondie ran 200 metre sections of 10.07, 11.17 (400m in 21.24), 11.69 (600m in 32.93) and then 12.26 for her final 200 metres to give her a fast last 800 metre time of 45.19.

Trained at Caulfield by Brendan McCarthy, Blondie is now likely to step up significantly in class with connections suggesting a Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) campaign.

Whether she is up to that standard at this stage remains to be seen but Friday night’s win certainly suggested that Blondie is a filly with a good future.

In the main race of the night, the Australia Stakes, the Peter Gelagotis-trained Malaguerra (Magnus), a dual Group One winning sprinter, scored an excellent first up win, resuming after racing in Perth in November.

Malaguerra was always travelling well. He settled in third place (with cover), following a quick tempo and after improving nicely nearing the home turn, he dashed to the front at the 100 metres and then went on to win clearly by two lengths.

His time for the 1200 metre journey was 1:09.29, which equalled Miss Andretti’s (Ihtiram) Moonee Valley track record, set in September 2006.

Malagurra’s sectional times were also impressive. Clocked from the 1000 metre point, he ran 200 metre sections of 10.39, 10.79 (400m in 21.18), 10.97 (600m in 32.15), 11.66 (800m in 43.81) with his last 200 metres in 12.09 to give him a fast final 1000 metre time of 55.90.

The runner up Black Heart Bart (Blackfriars) settled back in sixth place and was under pressure chasing the hot tempo but his quality showed in the latter stages, the three-time Group One winner closing well for second, albeit without looking a threat to the winner.

Black Heart Bart was timed to run his final 1000 metres in 55.92 and he looks on track for another good preparation with the C F Orr Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday week being his next target and a likely rematch with Malaguerra, who appears to have returned in career-best form.

The fourth-placed Palentino (Teofilo) staged a promising first up effort. He was slowly away and raced in last place on the rails in the nine-horse field before making ground over the final stages, clocking a very smart 56.04 for his final 1000 metres.

In the feature race at Flemington on Saturday, the Mike Moroney-trained four-year-old Tivaci (High Chaparral) was the surprise $17 first up winner of the Kensington Stakes (Listed, 1000m).

Having his first run since the Emirates Stakes (registered as Mackinnon Stakes) (Gr 1, 2000m) at Flemington in November, Tivaci also impressed on the watch.

He settled in ninth place, just behind the leading group in the centre of the track before sprinting quickly to hit the front at the 50 metre mark. He then went on to score by a long head in a time of 57.85.

Tivaci was clocked to run fast closing sectional times with his last 800 metres in 43.15, last 600 metres in 32.10 with his final 400 metres in 21.39.

In the main race at Rosehill on Saturday, the Bjorn Baker-trained, Group One winning sprinter Music Magnate (Written Tycoon) resumed to take out the weight-for-age Expressway Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) in impressive fashion.

He travelled well outside the leader Ball Of Muscle (Dubawi) and after putting pressure on that runner at the home turn, Music Magnate drew clear over the final stages to win comfortably by a length and a quarter from Kuro (Denman) with Ball Of Muscle holding on for third.

Time for the 1200 metre journey was 1:09.48 and Music Magnate ran quick sectionals. Clocked from the 1000 metres, he ran 200 metre sections of 10.75, 11.26 (400m in 22.01), 11.28 (600m in 33.29), 10.94 (800m in 44.23) with his final 200 metres in 11.51 to give him a last 1000 metres in 55.74.

It was Music Magnate’s first run since racing at the Queensland Winter Carnival, a campaign which saw him take out the Doomben 10,000 (Gr 1, 1350m) in May.

Maintaining the streak of impressive first up winners last weekend was the performance, later the Rosehill program, of the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained filly Scarlet Rain (Manhattan Rain) who staged quite an effort in fighting back to win the Benchmark 85 (1100m).

Having her first start since suffering a setback when last in the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) last March, Scarlet Rain showed a lot of pace to lead but then had to endure a difficult trip when pressured in front.

She then held on determinedly to win by a half-length in the smart time of 1:03.41 (200m rate of 11.52), equivalent to 1200 metres in 1:09.17.

Clocked from 800 metres point, Scarlet Rain ran 200 metre sections of 10.69, 11.22 (400m in 21.91), 11.13 (600m in 33.04) with 11.69 for her final 200 metres to give the filly a fast last 800 metre time of 44.73 – times that highlight her effort in winning despite intense mid-race pressure.