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MESSAGE REVERATING AROUND THE WORLD - VICTORIAN SPRING IS TRULY INTERNATIONAL
THE undeniable message that reverberated around the racing world on Saturday night after Irish three-year-old Adelaide was successful in the $3 million Cox Plate was that the Victorian spring carnival was now truly international.
PATRICK BARTLEY reports in THE AGE that just a week ago, a Japanese stayer took out the Caulfield Cup, and now another international galloper has taken the second of Australia's most important three spring races.
And it would seem that, whether they be European or Japanese, the internationals are poised to take out Australia's most important handicap, the Melbourne Cup.
"These results are gratifying because so much work goes into internationals coming here, and now they have taken the Cox Plate," Racing Victoria's international recruiting scout, Leigh Jordon, said.
Jordon said Adelaide's win will go a long way to strengthening the numbers that will come next year for races across the board.
"We're seeing some truly great horses competing on our stage, and those in Europe are now convinced it's an achievable journey.
"Don't get me wrong, it's just that it is a long trek for these horses, they're in a plane a long time, they've got to acclimatise when they arrive – we should never think it's an easy trip."
Adelaide will shortly be transferred to leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller, who will take over the horse to keep racing in Australia.
However, one glimmer of hope came for the Australian racing industry when last year's Cup winner, Fawkner, finished an eye-catching second in the Cox Plate and will undoubtedly firm to win the Melbourne Cup.
For owner Lloyd Williams, a first Cox Plate may have eluded him but a fifth Melbourne Cup may be beckoning.
"There was no bad luck today. Fawkner was beaten by a much better horse on the day. They ran great times and let's all praise Adelaide for his win," Williams' son said moments after the race.
However, Williams would not speculate on whether Fawkner would be taken home to Mount Macedon before any Melbourne Cup decisions were made.
"We'll just wait and see how he is. It was a big run today so we'll just let him tell us," Williams said.
In one of the fastest run Cox Plates, Tasmania's favourite, The Cleaner, led a brave race but found the weight-for-age opponents beyond him at the home turn.
Another outstanding international performance was that of Side Glance, who duelled with The Cleaner and still managed to find another gear to narrowly miss a place, finishing fourth.
Happy Trails, who finished second in last year's Cox Plate, had his chances thwarted moments after the barriers opened when he appeared to stumble.
Saturday's Moonee Valley Cup lent little or no insight into this year's Melbourne Cup, as the winner, Prince of Penzance, will need a significant penalty to lift its precarious position of number 59 in the order of entry.
And runner-up Le Roi finished second but is in a difficult position for gaining a start in the $6.2million Melbourne Cup.
This time last year, young jockey Chad Schofield was the talk of Moonee Valley after winning the Cox Plate on Shamus Award. However, this year it was a different story. Schofield suffered a fall in the Moonee Valley Cup on Albonetti, but was passed fit to ride Sweynesse, who struggled under the race conditions.
Stewards then said Schofield had emerged from the Cox Plate unable to ride in the final race and believe he was not well enough to drive himself home.
BOLD NEWITT RIDE MADE THE DIFFERENCE AND DEFIED PROTESTS IN MANIKATO STAKES
IN helter-skelter group 1 sprints where little separates the field, sometimes a bold ride can make all the difference.
MICHAEL LYNCH reports in THE AGE that Craig Newitt gambled on the ability and toughness of his mount, Lankan Rupee, to overcome not just 11 speedy rivals but the disadvantage of an outside barrier to land the group 1 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday night in a dramatic race in which the Mick Price galloper had to survive a lengthy protest before he could keep the prize.
Lankan Rupee, the market elect, held on in an extraordinary finish where barely a couple of lengths separated the entire field.
The jockeys of the runner up, Damien Oliver on Angelic Light, and Tim Clark on the third-placed Sydney raider Famous Seamus, both fired in protests against the winner, claiming they had suffered interference early in the contest.
But after a marathon hearing stewards dismissed both protests.
Lankan Rupee had been beaten twice this season at Moonee Valley, going down narrowly to Angelic Light on his seasonal reappearance and then by the minimum margin to another of Friday's rivals, Buffering, in the group1 Moir Stakes last month.
Many argued that the horse rated the world's highest-ranked sprinter was not at his best on the tight Valley track.
That might well be the case – and it is undeniable that he will be better suited to the broader expanses of the Flemington straight in the Darley Classic next month – but he showed plenty of guts and determination to gain his first Moonee Valley group 1 in the Manikato.
Newitt knew that his best chance would be to bounce the son of Redoute's Choice out of stall nine and use his early speed to head his rivals, particularly the gritty veteran Buffering who loves nothing better than to high-roll in front and dictate the tempo of a race.
Lankan Rupee responded to his rider's urgings and maintained his gallop throughout, even as the pressure cranked up in the straight as a wall of horses came after him.
Price was a delighted man afterwards and praised the initiative shown by Newitt.
"It's just not the way to ride against Buffering and Buffering was going to be the leader. To go out there and burn a lot of fuel for the first 300 metres and to cross Buffering, I thought it was a very gutsy ride. Thank god it won, otherwise it would have been a butcher. He did all the donkey work from barrier nine and he was there to be run down. It was a very ballsy ride and a very ballsy run by the horse.
"I knew if they ran the race like that there would be a nice one sitting off him, but I wasn't sure which one it would be."
Newitt, who has established a redoubtable partnership with the gelding who was last season voted Australia's racehorse of the year, said: "I reckon he's the only horse in the country to be able to do what he did and burn at both ends and be out on his feet the last 50 metres and just find and find. And he did."
Lankan Rupee had been under an injury cloud after his recent loss to Buffering but he showed his wellbeing on Friday.
Price and Newitt believe the run will be a perfect preparation for his next target, the group 1 Darley Classic on the final day of the Flemington Melbourne Cup carnival, down the straight 1200 metres where in the past he has excelled, winning the Newmarket Handicap in March.
He will meet several of Friday night's rivals in the Darley, as well as Irish raider Slade Power, who has claims to be Europe's top sprinter.
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'SILKS AND SADDLES' with TERRY BUTTS
SILKS & SADDLES is a popular weekly column written by respected racing writer TERRY BUTTS that we run courtesy of one of Australia’s leading rural newspapers, the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER. Butts is an old-style racing journalist who shoots from the hip and takes no prisoners. He resents the 'suck-up and survive' mentality of some of the new breed of racing journalists in the print and broadcast media.
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