On The Watch

Turf-scorching Pippie posts brilliant times in Oakleigh Plate success

Lightly-raced, but talented, mare Pippie (Written Tycoon) produced a stunning performance in taking out Saturday’s Oakleigh Plate (Gr 1, 1100m), only failing by the barest of margins to break the 10-year-old track record at Caulfield.

After beginning brilliantly from barrier 14, Pippie crossed to the front in a twinkling. She  continued at a fast tempo before holding on to score in a time of 1:01.93, which was just 0.2 seconds outside of Here De Angels’ (Dehere) record, set in winning the Rubiton Stakes (Gr 3, 1100m) in 2010.

Pippie’s time of 1:01.93 was achieved at a fast 11.26 200-metre rate, which is equivalent to 1200 metres in 1:07.56.

Having her first run since November and only her ninth race start, Pippie travelled particularly well, had a clear advantage at the 200 metres and then held on to score by half a length from Zoutori (Zoustar), with Crystal Dreamer (Stratum) three-quarters of a length further back in third.

Pippie’s 200-metre breakdown really illustrated the merit of her performance, where she clocked (from the 1000m): 10.07, 10.19 (400m in 20.26), 10.71 (600m in 30.97), 11.71 (800m in 42.14) and 12.15 to give her a brilliant 54.29 for her last 1000 metres.

And while the aforementioned facts show what a marvellous performance Pippie staged, there was considerable comment about a perceived leaders’ bias at Caulfield, and those subscribing to that line of thought would therefore be reluctant to give her the credit she deserves.

So it should be highlighted that the runners that raced closest to the front-running Pippie finished near the tail of the field, with the best of those being Bon’s Away (Bon Hoffa), who was fourth at the home turn before finishing ninth.

While the runner-up Zoutori came from 13th at the home turn, third-placed Crystal Dreamer was eighth at that point, fourth-placed All Too Royal (All Too Hard) was ninth, fifth-placed Vainstream (Bel Esprit) was seventh, sixth-placed Bivouac (Exceed And Excel) was tenth, seventh-placed Halvorsen (Magnus) was 18th and eighth-placed Bold Star (Needs Further) was 14th.

Of those runners, some of the most interesting closing sectionals were:

Zoutori (53.76 last 1000m, 43.58 last 800m, 33.33 last 600m and 22.48 last 400m).

Bivouac (54.14 last 1000m, 43.89 last 800m, 33.65 last 600m and 22.86 last 400m).

Halvorsen (53.68 last 1000m, 43.23 last 800m, 33.04 last 600m and 22.31 last 400m).

Bold Star (54.14 last 1000m, 43.84 last 800m, 33.56 last 600m and 22.31 last 400m).

The Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) was also a strongly-run race and while he was a surprise winner at odds of $26, Tagaloa (Lord Kanaloa) staged a very smart performance in winning in a time of 1:08.56, which was 0.82 outside of the track record.

Having his fourth start and his second run this preparation, Tagaloa was one of a trio of leaders as he raced three deep. The quick early tempo resulted in the first 600 metres being clocked in 34.06 (11.35 200m rate) and the strong pace continued with the final 600 metres in 34.50 (11.50 200m rate).

Despite working most of the way, Tagaloa went to the front on turning for home and then fought back courageously to hold off the favourite Hanseatic (Street Boss) and score by a head. Personal (Fastnet Rock) was a further three-quarters of a length away third.

Tagaloa’s sectional times were impressive, clocking (from the 1000m): 10.39, 10.72 (400m in 21.11), 11.12 (600m in 32.23), 11.14 (800m in 43.37) and 12.63 for his last 200 metres to give him a fast final 1000-metre time of 56.00.

Hanseatic, who was beaten for the first time in three starts, was seventh on the rails early on, looked the winner when he eased into clear running at the 200 metres and clocked 55.72 for his last 1000 metres in chasing the fast tempo.

Personal raced just behind Hanseatic and ran on well, clocking 55.59 for her last 1000 metres in a smart effort at only her third race start.

In addition, On The Watch was taken by the effort of the Magic Millions 2YO Classic (RL, 1200m) winner Away Game (Snitzel), who had a difficult wide trip close to the fast pace, making her (1.3 lengths) fourth a smart performance indeed.

Away Game’s 200-metre breakdown (from the 1000m) was: 10.39, 10.69 (400m in 20.78), 11.23 (600m in 32.01), 11.25 (800m in 43.26) and 12.55 to give her a fast 55.81 for her final 1000 metres.

The Futurity Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) went to the consistent gelding Streets Of Avalon (Magnus), who broke through at the highest level in another solidly-run race, albeit not at the hectic tempo of the previous two Group 1 features.

Supported from odds of $16 to start at $9.50, Streets Of Avalon showed his customary pace to lead and then maintained quite a good tempo before fighting back gamely to defeat the favourite Super Seth (Dundeel) by a long-head.

The time for the 1400 metres was 1:21.90, which was 0.70 outside of the track record, with the first 800 metres in 47.78 (11.94 200m rate) and the last 600 metres in 34.12 (11.37 200m rate).

Streets Of Avalon got away with a moderate first 200 metres of 13.91, but the tempo was good from there on in, with the 200-metre breakdown (from the 1200m): 11.25, 11.23 (400m in 22.48), 11.28 (600m in 33.76), 11.40 (800m in 45.16), 11.23 (1000m in 56.39) and 11.60 for a final 1200 metres of 1:07.99.

The runner-up, Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) winner Super Seth, possibly disappointed some of his supporters visually, but he certainly staged a smart effort from a time perspective, with closing sectionals of 1:07.70 (last 1200m), 56.45 (last 1000m), 45.22 (last 800m), 33.57 (last 600m) and 22.57 for his last 400 metres.

In addition to those fast times, jockey Mark Zahra conceded after the race that Super Seth is probably better suited when held up behind runners rather than working outside the leader, a position he found himself in due to the circumstances of the race.

Multiple Group 1-winning mare Melody Belle (Commands) was third, just over two lengths behind Super Seth. She raced a bit below her brilliant best at her first run since November, but connections said there was improvement to come.

Melody Belle clocked 1:08.08 (last 1200m), 56.56 (last 1000m), 45.34 (last 800m), 34.02 (last 600m), and 22.65 for her last 400 metres.