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Jockey Glyn Schofield celebrates as Prized Icon heads to the winner's enclosure
The Melbourne Cup Carnival at historic Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria kicked off on Saturday with four Group 1 stakes races, highlighted by the $1.5 million AAMI Victoria Derby (G1). Conditions were excellent with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70's (26 C) with about 100,000 fans packing the grounds. A full field of 16 three-year-olds contested this 2500 meter (about 1 9/16 mile) trip, just over one complete lap of the pear-shaped turf course. Sacred Elixir was sent off as the 8-5 choice off his win in the Vase Stakes (G2) at Moonee Valley. In to challenge him included 5-1 second choice So Si Bon, third in the Vase Stakes, and 7-1 third choice Swear, a close second inthe Spring Champion Stakes (G1) at Randwick last out.
First time by in the Victoria Derby with Morvada and Captain Duffy out front.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Prized Icon Schofield 38.10 13.60 8.50 1 Sacred Elixir Purton 3.80 2.90 6 Inference Dunn 6.30 Winning Time: 2:36.16 $1 Exacta 2-1 63.15 $1 Trifecta 2-1-6 465.80 $1 Superfecta 2-1-6-10 2,336.85Results chart
Left: Prized Icon in the winner's enclosure. Winning trainer James Cummings said, "It is obviously fantastic to win a race that my family has been involved with for so long and this horse really deserves it. I get a lot of confidence from the fact that my great-grandfather started training horses in 1911; there's over 100 years of horse training excellence in the family. I wouldn't be talking about a Melbourne Cup with a Group 1-winning colt who is a son of More Than Ready out of a Danehill mare. I might get into a little trouble like that. We pay attention to how horses do need a little time to recover from a race like this and we certainly won't be in a rush with this horse. He's a valuable commodity, he's gonna be close to my heart for the rest of my life — he's my first Derby winner." James Cummings joins his father Anthony, late grandfather Bart, and late great grandfather Jim as a Victoria Derby-winning trainer. Bart Cummings holds the record with 12 Melbourne Cup wins.
Right: Prized Icon in the mounting yard before the race. Winning jockey Glyn Schofield said, "After I won the Champagne (Stakes) on him as a two-year-old, I said to James (Cummings), this is a Derby horse, he'll win the Derby, but he wasn't so sure about that. Horses give you that impression when you ride them and he certainly did that."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Sacred Elixir in the mounting yard before the race. Jockey Zac Purton said, "He raced alright. He had his chance."
Right: Third place finisher Inference returns to be unsaddled. Jockey Dwayne Dunn said, "He went super. I had a super run in the race from the barrier. Everything was going nicely until the top of the straight. So Si Bon extended better than me and pushed me back in behind them and I just got blocked again at the 200 metres so it was a super effort." Trainer Wayne Hawkes added, "It wasn't to be unfortunately, they don't pay out on should haves. In reality we were beaten when we drew the outside barrier. But he is a horse that is going somewhere ahead of the autumn, he doesn't mind softness in the track if it happens to be wet in Sydney."
Le Romain wins the Cantala Stakes (G1)
80-1 Great Esteem and 15-1 Thunder Fantasy dueled on the front end for the first 5/8 mile while stalked by Mackintosh and 30-1 Stratum Star. At the 1/8 pole the pacesetters tired setting the race up for the closers. 14-1 Le Romain, 7th early, rallied to gain the front at the 3/16 pole and was all out to hold off late-running 20-1 McCreery by a length, completing the trip in 1:34.92. It was a neck back to 40-1 Tivaci third, while The United Stated was another neck back in fourth and Mackintosh 1/4 length back in fifth.
Left: Le Romain in the winner's enclosure. Winning trainer Kris Lees said, "We have always had a really good opinion of him. He was really great in the Epsom. (Jockey Hugh Bowman) said before the race that he wanted to becoming to them, and not them coming to him which is what happened in the Epsom. I knew he had a little bit in the tank and he was strong in the end."
Right: Le Romain in his new winner's blanket. Jockey Hugh Bowman said, "I just had the right run. I had confidence coming into the race. He ran a hell of a race in the Epsom and the more I looked at it, the more I thought that was good enough form for this and it proved to be right."
Left: Second place finisher McCreery in the mounting yard before the race. Jockey Craig Newitt said, "He should have won. I got buried back on the fence and got an inside run in the last 150 metres."
Right: Third place finisher Tivaci in the mounting yard. Jockey Patrick Moloney said, "Got a bit further back than anticipated. He just ducked in down the straight but it was a terrific run."
A field of 15 older fillies and mares went to post for the $500,000 Myer Classic (G1) over 1600 meters (about 1 mile). ZouStar Stakes (G2) winner Don't Doubt Mamma was the 9-2 favorite over 5-1 Whispering Brook, third in the Fillies Classic (G2) and 11-2 First Seal, winner of the Tristarc (G2). Whispering Brook was sent to the lead by jockey Chris Parnham while stalked by I Am a Star. At the 1/8 pole Whispering Brook tired badly allowing I Am a Star to inherit the front. Kept to task by Dean Yendall she held off late-running French Emotion by 1/2 a length in 1:35.56. It was another neck back to Denmagic third, while Don't Doubt Mamma trailed early and checked in 12th beaten just 4 1/2 lengths.
Left: I Am A Star in the winner's enclosure. Winning trainer Shane Nichols said, "It's an enormous buzz, I'm not sure I can explain the feeling. To train your first Group 1 winner at Flemington during the carnival on Derby Day is something that you dream of. She's such a mature filly and nothing bothers her, she eats, she's sound, she just goes about her work and if there's another horse getting stressed near her she doesn't care. She was bred in New Zealand, was sold in Sydney, she's trained in Melbourne, she's been to Adelaide, been to Sydney and back to Melbourne so she's like a nine-year-old gelding but she's got a bit of toe."
Right: Second place finisher French Emotion warms up before the race. Jockey Hugh Bowman said, "Everything went our way and she just came up a bit short."
Kicking off the Group 1 quartet on Saturday, a field of eight 3-year-olds sprinted 1200 meters (about 6 furlongs) down the straightaway in the $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (G1). Roman Consul Stakes (G2) runner-up Astern was sent off as the 9-5 favorite over 5-2 Extreme Choice, winner of the Moir Stakes (G1) at Moonee Valley, and 7-2 Star Turn, winner of the Schillaci Stakes (G2) at Caulfield. Jockey Dwayne Dunn sent Star Turn to the lead and he was pressed by 60-1 Saracino and stalked by 8-1 Russian Revolution. Star Turn continued to lead to the 1/8 pole but Flying Artie, 8th early under Hugh Bowman, found room at the 3/16 pole and outfinished favorite Astern to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:08.98. It was a neck back to pacesetter Star Turn third.
Left: Flying Artie in the winner's enclosure. Winning jockey Hugh Bowman said, "To get the opportunity to ride him, he's a beautiful horse and he's only going to improve. He appreciated being tucked in behind them and exposed late — it was a dominant win. That was a very strong race. When he got a little bit of room he showed everyone what he's obviously been showing the stable."
Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Astern returns after the race. Jockey James McDonald said, "He went fantastic. He had the race won until that horse darted through late. Travelled beautifully, did everything right in the run then levelled out like a seven-furlong horse."
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