Phantom call: the greatest Melbourne Cup horses
Godolphin will wait until Monday to make a decision on whether Ambience, a half-sister to two-year-old triple crown winner Pierro, lines up in the VRC Oaks on Thursday. John O’Shea’s filly trounced her Wakeful Stakes rivals on Saturday and had bookmakers scrambling to make her an equal $4 second favourite. “I’m leaning towards running,” O’Shea said. “She has done very well at home so we’ll have to have a chat to [Godolphin Australia boss Henry Plumptre]. At this stage I wouldn’t see why she wouldn’t run. She had done very well at home and we came here optimistic in the hope she would improve dramatically. She’s got a lovely turn of foot for a staying filly.” Wakeful Stakes runner-up Beluga Blue will skip the Oaks, but Gerald Ryan’s Muzyka and the Jim Cassidy-ridden Dawnie Perfect will push on after finishing third and fourth respectively.
Rawiller backs Mahuta for Guineas
Brad Rawiller endorsed the progressive Mahuta as an Australian Guineas contender after a fighting win to open the Derby Day program. The colt was unraced two months ago but has racked up three wins from five starts and a second stakes success in a row after fighting hard under Rawiller, who only picked up the ride after Mark Zahra’s suspension. “That’s a really good chance with this preparation behind his back,” Rawiller said of the Australian Guineas. “It might be worth aiming for and Darren [Weir] will be looking into that. That was a real sharp burst and then he had to tough it out which he did. I had the horse underneath me to do it and he’s definitely progressing the right way.” Mahuta had a neck to spare on the line from Patch Adams with favourite Bassett, which loomed to win, a short-half head back in third.
Oliver’s inside surprise
Damien Oliver surprised everyone by getting up on the fence to win Saturday’s Guvera Stakes on Disposition – and most importantly James McDonald. “I thought I was on the fence, I didn’t think anything was come up on the inside and beat me,” McDonald said after being beaten a neck by Disposition on San Diego. Oliver didn’t go around a horse to score. “I got there without doing too much and he really had something to give,” Oliver said. “It was a really good win.” It was the old firm of Oliver and Lee Freedman back together and Freedman was in awe of the ride. “I didn’t think I would be talking to [the media]. On the turn last on the fence over 1400 metres is not the ideal spot, but he knew what he was doing,” Freedman said. Disposition is likely to head to Perth for next month’s Railway Stakes.
Rough trot for Bosson
Opie Bosson’s week went from bad to worse after losing the Emirates Stakes ride on Turn Me Loose on Derby Day. The Caulfield Cup-winning rider was outed for 10 meetings on a careless riding charge stemming from Charmed Harmony in the third. He had only two days earlier heard the then-Melbourne Cup second favourite Mongolian Khan had endured a bout of colic and was scratched from Tuesday’s big race while Godolphin’s booking of the New Zealander for Magic Hurricane in the Mackinnon Stakes also fell by the wayside when The Metropolitan winner was scratched. Tommy Berry and Damian Lane were both hit with seven meeting suspensions out of the Mackinnon Stakes while Joe Azzopardi copped a 12 meeting ban for causing a skirmish nearing the turn in the Victoria Derby. All will be available to ride on Melbourne Cup day. James McDonald was also fined $1000 for striking Contributer three more times than allowed before the 100-metre mark in the Mackinnon Stakes.
Bailey goes unrecognised
Victoria’s chief steward, Terry Bailey, has had plenty on his plate this week, but was perplexed with the lack of recognition he received from Sydney riders returning to scale. He quizzed James McDonald and Brenton Avdulla on why they don’t afford racing’s sheriff a small acknowledgment in return. “Hugh Bowman usually does it and I must find out what’s going on up there,” Bailey said. Avdulla said at Randwick most riders returned to scale in the Theatre Of The Horse away from the winner’s stall and chief steward. “Most of the time I just get off,” Avdulla said.
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