From Derby Day to the Cup Carnival
The shape of the modern Melbourne Cup Carnival has evolved over the past few years and with that, Derby Day’s impact on the rest of the racing week has changed, too.
While the Lexus Melbourne Cup and the Kennedy Oaks retain their traditional spots, the final day of the carnival – being Champions Day – benefits from some of what were previously Derby Day features now being run on a program high on quality and excitement.
So, to what came out of Derby Day 2022 and where some of the prominent runners can be seen at Flemington again over the coming days.
Wakeful Stakes can deliver again in Kennedy Oaks
You hear it often, ‘this race is a good guide to….’. In the case the Wakeful Stakes there are fewer races which have provided a better guide to the next step up.
Since its first running in 1932, the Wakeful has delivered 38 winners of the VRC Oaks including Willowy in 2021.
Zennzella thrust herself into Thursday’s calculations with the TAB market agreeing on her performance being noteworthy enough to have the filly by sprinting star Snitzel at $7.
James McDonald had no hesitations recommending that she should press on.
“Let’s run her,” he said. All being well, could there be a better indication than from a jockey on fire?
“Queen Air was an eye-catcher”, spotted racecaller Matt Hill as the Lindsey Smith-trained filly stormed home for fourth placing with her Racing & Sports ratings rising with each run so far this preparation.
Similarly for fifth-placed Let’sbefrankbaby, ‘eating up the finish line’ as you’ll hear many trainers say they like to see, Robbie Griffiths and Mat de Kock could have a live Oaks chance at $17.
Derby winner makes the Cup field
It isn’t unusual to see a Victoria Derby winner feature in the Melbourne Cup, but an English Derby winner is uncommon.
That is why Serpentine, although rated a $61 chance for Tuesday, adds that extra element to the 2022 Cup.
Winless since taking out the Derby at Epsom in July 2020, the five-year-old has been a work-in-progress for Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Robert Hickmott and Serpentine’s second-placing in the Group 2 Archer Stakes (2500m) tops his preparation for the Cup.
Serpentine will jump from barrier 23 with 2021 Victoria Derby-winning hoop John Allen aboard.
Linlithgow winner could follow-up in Champions Mile
The Linlithgow Stakes was for many years on the Oaks Day card and similarly for much of that time run over 1200 metres.
As such, it very rarely played out as a pathway towards the Cantala Stakes which will feature in 2022 as the Group 1 Champions Mile.
With the Linlithgow now finding a place on the Derby Day schedule and over 1400 metres, winner Old Flame could step out again in the Mile on Saturday.
“It’s certainly something we’ve always thought of so it’s always in the back of our mind,” co-trainer Paul Snowden said.
“I think what this weather does in the next 4-6 days will determine if we run or not.”
Old Flame is at $15 with TAB in their pre-final field market.
Champions Day a possibility for Argentia
Racing down the Flemington straight suits some horses and not so much for others.
For the Anthony and Sam Freedman stable, Argentia being a ‘straight horse’ is just the niche that they have been looking for with this four-year-old mare my Frankel, and that is why they will look to Flemington features in 2023 after winning the Group 3 Rising Fast Stakes over 1000 metres.
“She’s now two from two down the straight, she’s shown a liking to it, there’s going to be some nice races in the Autumn for her,” Sam said with races like the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap over the straight six furlongs being on the wish list.
More immediately, a start in the Group 1 Champions Sprint (1200m) is a possibility despite it being a leap in race quality.
“We’ll give a little bit of thought to next week with her, obviously if that’s a small field there’ll be a strong speed,” Sam added.
“Maybe she’s not up to them but it’s Cup week, she’s in great form and for these mares in form sometimes it’s just best to keep them going.”