A wrap up of Flemington Finals Race Day

1 July 2023 Written by VRC

It was Finals Day at Flemington on Saturday, the culmination of a series of races run at city meetings throughout May and June.

The series brings together races like the VRC-CRV Winter Championship, which dates back to 1979, while the other series races on the card date back to 2009. 

There are races for the young and established, over short and long distances, and races for fillies and mares as well. 

A total $1.53 million in prize money was on offer during the day with four races run at Listed level. 

Blake Shinn after First Immortal won the Polytrack Mahogany Challenge Final at Flemington. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

Shinn hits front in Jockey’s Premiership 

Jockey Blake Shinn was one of the main beneficiaries of the of the disqualification of 29 horses ridden by Wiremu Pinn after a Racing Victoria Stewards inquiry. 

It was established that Pinn had ridden with the wrong allowance when he first arrived in Melbourne from New Zealand. 

Of the five winners that Pinn rode at metropolitan meetings, Shinn was second on two occasions and following the disqualifications those two winners it put Shinn level with Jamie Kah in the Melbourne Jockeys’ Premiership race leading into Saturday’s meeting. 

Kah has been out since March following a fall at Flemington that left her with concussion, although she has recently returned riding trackwork and needs a further medical clearance to return to race riding. 

Shinn registered a treble on Renosu, First Immortal and Mnementh to now lead by three in the Premiership race, although he started a 14-meeting careless riding suspension at the conclusion of Saturday’s meeting and returns for the final four meetings of the season. 

“It feels good but at the end of the day I’m not one to be looking at the scoreboard,” Shinn said. 

“My job is to ride winners and leave all that focus to the media. 

“I’ve had a job to do, and it has left me in front at this time of the year, which is fantastic, but there is still a job to do until the end of the season. 

“That will be my priority but to be in front it’s a great feeling.” 

Riddle Me That breaks long drought 

Riddle Me That landed his first victory in more than two-and-a-half years when successful in the Listed VRC-CRV Winter Championship Final (1600m). 

The Matt Laurie-trained galloper had not been successful since taking out the Group 3 Paris Lane Stakes (1400m) at Flemington in October 2020. 

Laurie was absent from Flemington on Saturday when the gelding landed his sixth win to take his prize money beyond $540,000. 

Winning jockey Jye McNeil, who picked up the ride after Linda Meech did not pass a medical test earlier in the week following a fall at Flemington on June 17, divulged that he had not spoken to the trainer in the lead-up to the win. 

“We just had the stable representative, and it seems to be a winning combination,” McNeil said. 

“I drew well, and I wanted to use that barrier draw today. 

“We landed in the perfect position and at the top of the straight it was just a matter of manoeuvring into the right spot. He was able to do that for me and he produced a nice finish to score a nice win.” 


Lindsay Park collects early prize 

The decision to bypass a race at Geelong in favour of the Next Generation Sprinters Series Final (1200m) paid a winning dividend for Ben and J D Hayes. 

Stellar Olympus had been engaged at Geelong on Friday but the heavy track at that course as against the likelihood of firmer conditions at Flemington swung the pendulum the way of Melbourne’s main course. 

In addition, the Flemington race was worth four times the prize money that was on offer at Geelong. 

“The small field, the good prize money and the better surface tipped us to Flemington,” J D Hayes said. 

“We weren’t sure how he would handle the straight, but I thought he showed a nice turn of foot to put them away.” 

Hayes said Stellar Olympus would benefit greatly from Saturday’s outing and will be a better galloper when he can stretch out to 1400m and potentially out to 1600m. 

Mimi's Award ridden by Daniel Stackhouse wins the Banjo Paterson Series Final. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos)

Three straight for Seonee 

The Patrick Payne-trained Seonee has added the Leilani Series Final to her growing band of 1400m victories with an all-the-way win. 

Now senior owner Joe O’Neill wants to add some Black Type to her record, although he has declared the four-year-old daughter of Winning Rupert is still 12 months from reaching her full potential. 

The Group 3 Cockram Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield next month is the next likely assignment for Seonee. 

“I think that will be a very good race for her,” O’Neill said. 

O’Neill is already eyeing off the Sydney Autumn Carnival next year, hoping for wet ground, although he added the mare was equally adept on firm surfaces. 

“She will probably be a miler in time, but at the moment she’s unbeaten at 1400 metres in five goes, so what else can she do,” he said. 


No stopping Mimi’s Award this time 

After the disappointment of losing the Banjo Paterson Series Final (2600m) on protest 12 months ago, there was no stopping the Lindsay Park-trained mare on Saturday. 

Mimi’s Award was first past the past in last year’s race, but relegated to second on protest, but after sprinting clear in the straight on Saturday the mare went on to register a soft 2-¾ length to register her second win in seven starts at Flemington to go along with two other placings. 

Co-trainer J D Hayes said Mimi’s Award was likely to return to Flemington in two weeks' time for the Deane Lester Flemington Cup 1849 (2800m), a race the mare ran third in last year. 

“I think we’ll get her back to the farm and rinse and repeat, hopefully,” Hayes said. 

“She’s an out-and-out stayer and is very fit. 

“She has been building into her preparation and she loves this going which was great.” 

First Immortal stamps his authority 

Mark and Levi Kavanagh have some thinking to do after First Immortal gave a glimpse of his staying prowess in taking out the Mahogany Challenge Final (2500m). 

Persan won the corresponding race in 2020 before going on to win the Group 3 The Bart Cummings and then finish fifth in that year’s Melbourne Cup. 

First Immortal had won two of his three previous starts at Flemington over 2000m and was conceding considerable weight to his rivals at his first try at 2500m on Saturday. 

But that did not stop the three-year-old who showed a terrific burst of speed at the 400m mark to put the race beyond doubt. 

“We were watching in amazement as he got out and ate up the straight and really extended to the line,” Levi Kavanagh said. 

“We haven’t got any set plans. 

“We had some talks earlier and were talking about bypassing the spring and targeting next year, but after an impressive victory like that we might have to have a think about it. 

“We’ll let the dust settle and decide whether he has another one in the winter and give him a decent spell or whether we decide to do something else.” 


A Golden Path to the future 

The Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr-trained appreciated the flatter Flemington track with a dominant display in the Silver Bowl Series Final (1600m). 

A Pakenham maiden winner on debut, Golden Path did not handle the dip early in the straight when just touched out at Sandown at his second start. 

Relishing the different track on Saturday, Golden Path was allowed to roll forward by jockey Beau Mertens before racing away to a 3-¼ length win. 

“He is very talented,” Kent Jnr said. 

“His best is still a long way away because he has a lot of furnishing still to do, but it’s a great asset to have tactical speed, on a genuine tempo and then put them away. 

“He was quite impressive.” 

Kent Jnr indicated Golden Path could return to Flemington in two weeks' time for a 1700m race, but added the best from the gelding was still 12 months away.