Flemington welcomes New Year in with quality racing
Bathed in New Year sunshine, Flemington once again delivered a feast of racing entertainment to see in 2024.
Glentaneous wins the 141st Bagot Handicap
The traditional New Year's Day feature at Flemington saw the favourite settle at the rear of the field until into the home straight when Damien Lane took the six-year-old to the centre of the course and round-up the field to go on a score by two-lengths over Amade ($13) with Grand Pierro ($21) a head-margin away in third.
"The pace slackened for a few furlongs and then it picked up quite quickly which suited my bloke," Lane said.
With wins at Sandown over 2400-metres, Moonee Valley over 2500-metres, and now this 2800-metre staying contest, Glentaneous' stocks are rising for 2023 Caulfield and Melbourne Cups-winning co-trainers Anthony and Sam Freedman.
"He's always shown us ability," stable representative Brad Taylor said.
"He's had a couple of niggling issues in behind which held up getting him to the races and he needed another break (after last summer), but they are all under control and we've always thought he was a progressive stayer.
Freedmans combine again with Bel Air snaring the last
Bel Air was a well-backed favourite in the George Watson Handicap (1400m) with Damian Lane achieving a riding double with the four-year-old’s win.
“I knew that ridden conservatively he could have a really strong finish,” Lane said.
“Everything worked out well, the speed was on and I was able to get into the race at the right time.
“I think previously the Flemington straight could be too long for him as he was having a think (about it) but now he’s racing a lot more genuinely and maybe he can put a fure more together.
While the Freedmans took training honours with a pair of wins, in the riding ranks Michael Dee also enjoyed a race day double along with Lane.
Midtown Boss liking the Flemington straight
Striking in the first race of the year is a good omen anyone will take, and Midtown Boss did that for trainer Matt Laurie and jockey Daniel Stackhouse.
In three starts at Flemington, the four-year-old is yet to miss a place, and with notching the two-length victory in the Victorian Jockeys Association Sprint (1100m) Laurie says that suitable races down the Flemington straight are likely to be the gelding’s go in 2024.
“He travelled a long way into the race and Daniel didn’t put him under too much pressure at all,” Laurie said.
“It is exciting, he had very good straight from and we’re hoping that he can get to listed level over the shorter trip.
“But obviously we’ll be targeting these straight races.”
Magnupur delivers in memory of Deane Lester
The reality of Deane Lester no longer making his wat to the races still hasn’t sunk in for his friends, family and racing fans alike, but Magnupur gave everyone involved in the four-year-old a happier tear in the eye with his win in the Henry Byron Moore Handicap (1600m).
Raced in partnership with some of those friends and family, the Robbie Griffiths and Mat de Kock-trained gelding notched his first metropolitan victory in his 13 start career.
de Kock said that the team were keen to come to Flemington after a competitive but luckless effort in the Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series Final (1600) on Kennedy Oaks Day which was followed by a victory at Bendigo.
“Flemington was a special place for Deano,” friend Warren Huntly said.
“He bred this horse with Robbie Griffiths and to have been involved in the journey from day one, and the horse is going really well.”
Rising talent Dylan Browne McMonagle notches a Flemington first
And along the Irish theme, Dylan Brown McMonagle continues to make his name in Australia with Dublin Journal providing him his first winner at Flemington.
“I’ve had plenty of luck since I came over with plenty of support,” the Irishman said.
“It has been unbelievable and this guy gave me my first winner over here.”
A relief, too, for his mother all the way back in Ireland with the early morning wake-ups to watch her son ride in Australia now worth it even more.
Dublin Journal a Flemington winner
From Leopardstown to Flemington, with strong Irish connections in the ownership Dublin Journal notched second win in-succession with victory in the 2024 Stud and Stable Staff Awards over 1800-metres.
Dublin Journal’s Australian career began a little over one year ago and before that included wins in Ireland at Leopardstown and Naas.
Providing the Hayes training trio of Ben, Will and JD their third winner of the season at Flemington, Dublin Journal came here after a win at Caulfield over 2000-metres on December 14.
Ben Hayes described the six-year-old as a frustrating horse but having now ticked the Flemington box, more could be to come.
Summer racing returns to Flemington on January 13 with the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) continuing the sprint series features.