Racing Review - VRC Members Race Day

15 July 2023 Written by Racing & Sports

VRC Members and racegoers alike enjoyed a great days racing at Headquarters, the last at Flemington in the 22/23 racing season.

The Deane Lester Flemington Cup (2800m) may not have attracted the best field of stayers to have graced the Flemington racetrack over its long history, but it was a race that created plenty of interest. 

Lester, a renowned form analyst who died earlier in the year, was instrumental in resurrecting the Flemington Cup.

This year’s edition was taken out by the Daniel Stackhouse ridden Mimi’s Award in a thrilling fight with the Jye McNeil-ridden Mostly Cloudy. 

McNeil would also dearly have loved to have ridden the winner of the Flemington Cup as he was close to Lester, and it was on his advice that he rode Twilight Payment as a front runner when successful in the 2020 Melbourne Cup. 

Also on Saturday’s program was Victoria’s longest race for two-year-olds, the Byerley Handicap (1800m) which provides the winner, Sunsource, a ballot exemption into the Group 1 Victoria Derby during Melbourne Cup week. 

Gaudray a Rising Star 

Celine Gaudray is in a neck-and-neck fight with fellow rider Carleen Hefel in the Melbourne Apprentices’ Premiership, but there is one award they cannot not take from her. 

After 24 heats run throughout Victoria and awarded on a points basis, Gaudray was named the Rising Star for the 2022-23 season after accumulating the most points. 

Gaudray finished fourth aboard Pitchanun in the RMBL Investments Rising Stars Final (1600m) to claim the award over Matthew Chadwick. 

“It shows if you are prepared to work hard, you will be rewarded well. I feel the premiership is the bigger thing to win, but this is certainly nice,” Gaudray said. 

Gaudray put down her improved season to being injury free and being able to get out and ride trackwork and jump-outs at other venues rather than just Mornington where she is apprenticed to Pat Carey. 

“It’s pretty good not being injured and I’ve been getting support from outside stables,” Gaudray said. 

“My boss has relented and let me ride work for outside stables. I’m now riding at Cranbourne and Flemington jump-outs which has certainly helped.” 

Emotional win for Koumis 

Geelong trainer Paul Koumis dedicated the win of Albanian I Am in the L V Lachal Handicap (1700m) to former respected trainer Tommy Hughes Snr. 

Hughes died on Friday aged 93 and was Koumis’ first ‘boss’ when he entered the horse racing industry. 

“He was a great man, and he was very good to me. He took me in under his wing like a son and taught me what I pretty much know today. He sadly passed away yesterday, and I would like to extend my condolences to the family – Judy, Megan, Janine and Tommy.  It’s a sad loss as he did a lot for me early in my career,” Koumis said. 

No cause for concern 

Trainer Shawn Mathrick will give Cause For Concern a short break before preparing him for a spring campaign following his win in the VRC Member Shane Murray Handicap (1400m). 

Mathrick has loftier plans for the gelding who is now a four-time winner from eight career starts. 

“I’ll swim him and put him on the lead pony for three weeks and then go straight back into the spring,” Mathrick said. 

“There’s still a lot more left in the tank, but he just hasn’t tapped into it yet.” 

Cause For Concern was having his first try at 1400m having run second to Renosu in the Listed A R Creswick Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on July 1. 

“I said before that he would have no problem getting 1400 (metres), he’s been eating well, and I wanted to try him at 1400 metres before he has a little break.” 

Dance To Dubai returns to winning ways 

If the VRC Member Rebecca Sutherland Sprint (1200m) had been run at Moonee Valley instead of Flemington, trainer Peter Moody was confident Dance To Dubai could return to winning form. 

Dance To Dubai was a maiden on the Flemington straight course and was coming off a last start ninth in the Listed Santa Ana Lane Series Sprint Final (1200m) on July 1. 

“I said to the team that if it was six furlongs around The Valley, to ‘sell the farm and bet’,” Moody said post-race. 

“But down the straight she was still a maiden until today, so I’m happy to get that out of the way.” 

Moody said he had instructed apprentice Carleen Hefel to make Dance To Dubai begin, just as she does at Moonee Valley or Caulfield, rather than take a sit on the mare. 

“She was back in the pack and just got lost last time. She also gets a lot of confidence from the rail,” Moody said. 

“We were prepared at 5 o’clock this morning that unless the rail was really off, we were happy to roll back down there as this mare takes a lot of confidence having the rail upside her.” 

Young Werther lands second career win 

It has taken just two months shy of three years for Young Werther to register his second career win. 

A debut winner at Geelong in September 2020, Young Werther was lining up for start number 23 in the VRC Member Clint Jellis Trophy (2000m) where he just nosed out Milford. 

While the winning scoreboard may have been lacking, Young Werther had racked up more than $1.2 million in prize money in his previous 22 starts. 

Along the way, Young Werther had finished in the placings in the Victoria Derby and Australian Derby as a three-year-old, run second and third in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes, and competed in both the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup. 

Stable representative Jack Howard said Young Werther had travelled back from a campaign in Brisbane where he was placed in the Tatt’s Cup last month in terrific order, adding the gelding had worked well on Tuesday morning ahead of Saturday’s outing. 

“It’s great for the owners. They have been very patient,” Howard said of Saturday’s win. 

“He’s been in and around the mark in some very big races and has promised us the world and he’s finally delivered today.”