Torrential rain, thunder, golf-ball sized hailstones, lightning and subsequent flooding saw the most anticipated Flemington meeting of the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival cancelled on Saturday before the coveted Group 1 features, the $1million Australian Cup or the $750, 000 Australian Guineas could take place.
In a disastrous day for rain soaked and stranded spectators, disappointed trainers and spooked horses only five of the programmed eight races on the Super Saturday of Racing were safely able to go ahead, leaving the Australian Cup and Australian Guineas to be rescheduled and added to the Blamey Stakes race meeting next Saturday.
The fields for the two deferred feature races will not be re-drawn, however Mark Kavanagh’s Melbourne Cup winner Shocking will have his chance in the Australian Cup after being scratched from the weight-for-age feature on Saturday.
Shocking was withdrawn from the race on Saturday morning due to a hoof abscess, but Kavanagh is hopefull the abscess will soon burst and Shocking can get back on the track and make the most of his second chance.
In the races that did take place on the dark and stormy day, there was plenty of action and excitement including Wanted’s narrow win in the Newmarket Handicap, the only Group 1 race held on the day.
The Group 2 VRC Sires Produce Stakes, Group 2 Kewney Stakes and Group 3 Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes also still took place at the Flemington meeting on Saturday.
Improving Redoute’s Choice filly Shaaheq claimed her maiden victory in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1200m). Coming off four second placings in her four career starts to date, the David Hayes-trained two-year-old now looks a good chance in the $3.5million Golden Slipper on April 3, Saturday’s win having shortened her odds to $16 with IASbet.com for the richest two-year-olds’ race in the world.
The Group 2 Kewney Stakes (1400m) was an exciting affair with the brilliant VRC Oaks winner Faint Perfume kicking off her autumn campaign with style. The Bart Cummings-trained Shamardal filly secured her fourth career victory by taking out the Kewney Stakes on Saturday.
In the Group 2 Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) two-year-old O’Reilly filly Shamrocker secured her second career victory from just three starts. It was another impressive win in a group race feature for Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien following his success in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes a Caulfield two weeks ago with unbeaten Starcraft colt Star Witness.
The freakish weather was the cause of a number of casualties at the meeting, however, including the career and life threatening shoulder injury sustained by the Newmarket Handicap fourth-placegetter King Pulse.
The Michael Moroney-trained gelding ran into a wall after breaking free from his strapper, spooked from the stormy chaos. King Pulse was taken to Werribee Veterinary Clinic after the accident and will be out of action indefinitely.
It was a close call for Newmarket Handicap winner Wanted, the consistent three-year-old Fastnet Rock colt panicked with all the mayhem and got away from his handler when being led back through the tunnel. Thanks to the fast thinking and experience of clerk-of-the-course John Patterson, Wanted, now worth multi-millions as a sire thanks to his Group 1 victory, was recovered and back under control without incident.
Others that broke free, including eight-year-old El Segundo and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Gigas, suffered cuts and bruising.
It will be a big clean up job but all going to plan Flemington will be back in complete working order by next week’s meeting.