Ad Lunar Flare ridden by Michael Dee wins the Lexus Andrew Ramsden at Flemington. (George Sal/Racing Photos)

Lunar ready to show flare in Turnbull

5 October 2023 Written by Racing & Sports

Lunar Flare will take another step on her path to the Melbourne Cup in the TAB Turnbull Stakes.

While there are pundits wondering if Lunar Flare has returned in the same vein of form she was in over the previous 12 months, her trainer Grahame Begg is far from disappointed. 

Lunar Flare will be lining up for the third run of her campaign when she runs in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington Saturday, all part of a plan to have the mare peaking for the Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 7. 

The daughter of 2013 Cup winner Fiorente may look to be underperforming in her two runs this campaign – on paper anyway – but looking deeper into those performances, Begg is happy with the mare's progress. 

Lunar Flare finished a first-up eighth in the Feehan Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 9 then ran last in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 23. 

"When you sit down and analyse the sectionals of that race the other day, she still came home in 34-½ (seconds) for the last 600 metres, even though she got beaten 10 lengths," Begg said. 

"And I think she was something like 11.34 (secs) for her last 200 metres, so while her run looks plain on paper, her sectionals were still very good. 

"It was one of those races where they got to 900 (metres) and ripped everything off the bit when Alenquer quickened, and she didn't get the chance to get travelling and go through her gears. 

"She hates getting off the bit and chasing. 

Michael Dee with trainer Grahame Begg after his horse Lunar Flare won the The Lexus Bart Cummings. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos)

"I know it's a strong race and the Cox Plate favourite (Romantic Warrior) is in the race.

Getting her back to Flemington, I always said she won't be hitting her straps until she gets back to Flemington, I think she'll run better." 

Begg pointed out that Lunar Flare had only been placed at Caulfield once in her career, having had eight starts at the track. 

It is for that reason Begg and connections did not pay up for Lunar Flare in the latest round of declarations for the Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 21. 

Begg said Saturday's race would determine Lunar Flare's Path to the Melbourne Cup with either the Cox Plate (2040m) on October 28 or the Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) the previous night her next assignment. 

"Saturday's race will be the fork in the road," Begg said. 

"She's still in the Cox Plate, but whether that is pie in the sky stuff, we don't know, but more than likely she'll go to the Moonee Valley Cup. 

"She's won and run second in that previously and then it gives her a nice buffer to the Melbourne Cup."