Flemington's hot start to New Year
Under clear summer skies, Flemington hosted the traditional start to the New Year with two stakes races – the Listed Bagot Handicap and the Listed Chester Manifold Stakes.
The track was upgraded after starting out as a Good 4 to Good 3 in time for the two features of the afternoon.
The action on track was just as hot as it was for those that came to Flemington to recover from their New Year’s Eve festivities.
Corner Pocket supreme in Chester Manifold
Warrnambool galloper Corner Pocket has continued his love affair with the 1400m journey at Flemington taking out the Listed Chester Manifod Stakes.
Corner Pocket had only two previous 1400m runs at Flemington landing the Listed Elms Handicap last February then at his start prior to winning on Sunday finished fourth on December 17.
A change of rider to Declan Bates was instrumental with the jockey guiding Corner Pocket in his nine victories from 16 starts.
San Huberto scores easy Bagot win
San Huberto had been winless in nine Australian starts since his arrival from France for the 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival.
But that changed when with the addition of blinkers San Huberto took out the Listed Bagot Handicap at his second start for the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable.
San Huberto had previously been prepared by Matt Cumani who is the trainer of Nobel Heights, runner-up to his former charge, four lengths astern.
Williams the punter’s pal
After a double to close out 2022 at Moonee Valley, Craig Williams wasted no time getting on the board in the New Year winning the first two races.
After a few scary moments aboard debutant Exploring in the New Year Sprint, it was more of a sit back and enjoy the ride aboard Papillon Club in the Australian Trainers’ Association Plate.
Williams has high hopes for both fillies with the Festival Of Racing drawing close.
He made it a treble when scoring aboard Hasseltoff in the 2023 Stud and Stable Staff Awards completing back-to-back Flemington wins for the Warrnambool-trained gelding.
Wrote To Arataki scores sentimental win
The Matthew Williams-trained Wrote To Arataki may have had some divine help when leading throughout to claim the Henry Byron Moore Handicap.
Part-owner Greg Plumridge died during the week with Williams paying tribute to gentleman post-race.
“He was a lovely older guy who succumbed to cancer. His wife is here today and hopefully this helps ease the pain a little,” Williams said.
Wrote To Arataki provided Jamie Kah with a rare double after riding with success in Brisbane on Saturday then returning for the New Year’s Day meeting at Flemington.
Home win for absent Moroney
Melbourne Cup winning trainer Mike Moroney returned home to New Zealand for Christmas and New Year with family but would have tuned in to see lightly raced Jungle Jim win the Victorian Jockeys’ Association Sprint.
Moroney’s racing manager Anthony Feroche said the trainer attended the meeting at Te Rapa on Sunday, where they had a few placings, and would have been delighted with the win of Jungle Jim who is owned by a number of faithful stable clients.
A five-year-old, Jungle Jim was having only his eighth start on Sunday, for four wins, with his career interrupted by breathing issues.
Feroche said now that Jungle Jim had scored up the straight, another straight race on his home track may be in order for the sprinter.
Obfuscation lands prize for Flemington trainer
Flemington trainer Simon Zahra had earmarked the George Watson Handicap for Obfuscation as a suitable New Year’s prize.
But Zahra was forced to sweat on getting a start with the four-year-old who landed his second win from eight career starts in Sunday’s 1400m contest.
Obfuscation was fourth emergency when fields were finalised on Wednesday and Zahra feared he would miss out on a start, but seven scratchings on race morning saw the gelding in the field.
Under Damien Thornton, Obfuscation did the rest, leading throughout to score by one-and-a-half lengths.