A brief look at TAB Champions Stakes Day

11 November 2023 Written by Racing & Sports

We look back at some of the races on TAB Champions Stakes Day at Flemington.

Champagne shower for Oliver 

Champion jockey Damien Oliver could not add to his record haul of Melbourne Cup Carnival winners on Champions Stakes Day. 

Riding at his last Carnival at Flemington, Oliver rode three winners over the four-day event. 

His record Carnival haul stands at 88, including 28 at Group 1 level. 

Jockeys formed a guard of honour for Oliver following his last ride and showered the champion rider of 128 Group 1 wins with champagne. 

Oliver went close to adding to that Groiup 1 tally, partnering Duais into second place in the Champions Stakes (2000m). 

“It’s been a great Carnival and the horses have run great,” Oliver said. 

“Duais ran a great race for us, but she found one better, unfortunately.” 

Muramasa ridden by Daniel Moor wins the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. (Pat Scala/Racing Photos)

Muramasa takes Queen Elizabeth 

Success in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) is an important steppingstone to the Melbourne Cup for Muramasa. 

The Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young-trained galloper is now qualified to run in next year’s Cup (3200m) after producing a strong staying effort on Saturday. 

Purchased with a Derby in mind (Muramasa did run fifth in last year’s Victoria Derby), the now gelding is unbeaten in three runs as a four-year-old. 

Muramasa was gelded and had tieback surgery after finishing near the tail of the field in the Australian Guineas at Flemington during the autumn. 

That surgery put an end to chasing a Derby for his trainers, but Busuttin and Young are now eyeing off the 2024 Cup. 

“That was the reason why we scratched him from the Bendigo Cup,” Young said. 

“We gave him three weeks between runs as sometimes third-up they can put in a flat one, especially coming back from a wind op. 

“He’s got a real turn-of-foot and this race panned out for the goals in a year’s time.” 

Young said the Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m) at Caulfield on December 2 was the next likely assignment for Muramasa. 

“He just has to pull up well,” Young said. 

General Beau ridden by Jamie Kah wins the Resimax Group Always Welcome Stakes. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos)

Schwarz stamps his class 

The John O’Shea-trained Schwarz showed a touch of class with his all-the-way victory in the Listed The Amanda Elliott (1400m) but is heading straight to the spelling paddock to be set for an autumn campaign. 

A debut winner at Gosford, Schwarz was brought to Melbourne to run on Cox Plate Day at Moonee Valley but bungled the start before running on at the finish to run fourth behind Archo Nacho. 

Schwarz was a little slow into stride again on Saturday, but jockey James McDonald drove the colt forward to take up the running, before kicking clear at the 300m, going on to score a 1-¾ length win. 

Tom Charlton, representing the O’Shea stable, said Schwarz was a ‘pretty talented horse’. 

“He missed a lot of his two-year-old season, so he is very raw still,” Charlton said. 

“He’s still inclined to do a few things wrong. He missed the break slightly again and James had to give him a dig and he probably over-raced for a furlong or two, but when he let down, he let down well. 

“The 1400 metres could be his trip. Whether he is a potential Stradbroke horse or something like that later on, we’ll see.” 

Stable change leads Watadeel to victory 

A change of stable brought about a change of luck for the connections of Watadeel who took out the Australian Childhood Foundation trophy (1600m). 

Previously with the Phillip Stokes yard, Watadeel was transferred to Annabel Neasham after his last start when fourth over 1440m at Caulfield on October 18. 

Watadeel relished the rise in trip under a perfectly judged ride by Jamie Kah who tracked the leader and favourite Von Hauke. 

“I can’t take much credit for that. He came to me in great order from the Stokes team and he was ready to come up in trip,” Neasham said. 

“He’s obviously had a few bad draws this campaign but he jumped well today, and I was glad to see Jamie take advantage of that. 

“I was quite confident watching him in the run. He looked really relaxed and she still had a lapful of horse at the 300 (metre mark) and we were hopeful that the big track here would really suit him.”