Superstar Filly shines on Super Saturday
Long before ‘Super Saturday was born’, the Newmarket Handicap had a day to itself, but this was the first year of it having a weekend of its own.
The 15,000 who turned out to Flemington to support it are unlikely to ever forget it after a superstar filly and a jockey who was happy to concede it was a case of right place, right time won the famed sprint.
Holland claims Newmarket like no other
Little did Dean Holland know what the racing gods had in store for him when he arrived at Flemington on ‘Super Saturday’.
The lightweight rider came for three rides, $13 chance Biometric in the $200,000 Group 3 Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap and two horses who were the despised outsiders of the field in non-Black Type events.
But after four races, Holland found himself with the ride of the filly challenging for favouritism in the day’s main event; the $1.5 million Group 1 Yulong Stud Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
Holland was James Cummings’ go-to man for the ride on In Secret after a new rider was required when Jamie Kah was ruled out for the remainder of the day following a fall that also involved Craig Williams in the Group 2 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes.
Holland responded with the ride of his career, guiding the daughter of I Am Invincible to a dominant win in Australia’s most prestigious sprint race at what was his first ride for Cummings.
“First of all, what I didn’t want to do was carry on, win, lose or draw with what happened with Jamie and ‘Willo’ (Williams). My thoughts go out to them,” Holland said.
“I’m just the lucky one that was able to ride light today and picked up the ride on one of Australia’s best sprinters. James had no other options, unfortunately. I was the one with the lightweight. He had faith in me. I hadn’t ridden for him before, but he was pretty relaxed. We got the job done, that’s the main thing.”
The victory was Holland’s second at the highest level, almost 13 years after partnering $26 chance Small Minds to victory in the Australasian Oaks as a 21-year-old.
In defeating $10 chance Lofty Strike by a length, with $4.20 favourite I Wish I Win just a short-neck back third, In Secret became the 17th filly to win the Newmarket.
Like the one who preceded her, Sunlight, In Secret also won the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes the spring before, a double also completed by Weekend Hussler and Brazen Beau since the Coolmore Stud Stakes moved to Derby Day in 2006.
Lot’s of Grunt in VRC Sires’ winner
The VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes no longer carries Group 1 status, but it would be a game person to say the 2023 edition was not won by a horse with Group 1 ability.
Veight made the leap from Pakenham maiden to Group 2 company with ease when he powered to a two-length win in the 1400-metre event that held Group 1 status until 2004 and has won by legends including Tulloch and Vain.
Veight, who is trained by Tony and Calvin McEvoy, might not be in that class, but top jockey Damian Lane thinks he is a horse of above-average ability who was done a huge favour by not being subjected to the helter-skelter of a Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes.
“This horse was well-placed today, he was well-prepared and it was just such a smart decision to bypass the Blue Diamond and set him for this race, because I don’t think it would have suited him,” Lane said.
It might not be too long before Veight gets a shot at the elite level, however, with next month’s ATC Sires’ (1400m) and Champagne Stakes (1600m) firmly on the McEvoy stable’s radar.
Veight gave Lane back-to-back wins in the race that was first run in 1862 following last year’s success on Let’srollthedice and it was also the first Group win for his sire Grunt, a two-time Group 1 winner at Flemington, who stands at Yulong Stud – sponsor of the Newmarket Handicap.
Sydney filly sparks Kewney Revolution
Revolutionary Miss has had a couple of near-misses in Group 1 company in Melbourne, but the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained filly landed another Victorian Group 2 win when Mark Zahra overcame difficulty to land the feature fillies’ event – the $300,000 TAB Kewney Stakes.
A winner of the Group 2 Blue Diamond Prelude as a juvenile, Revolutionary Miss was edged out by Daumier in the Blue Diamond at her next start and was again second in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas last spring, which left co-trainer Peter Snowden thrilled to see back in the winner’s stall for just the second time in her career.
“She’s been the bridesmaid on two occasions - she’s run second in a Blue Diamond and second in a Group 1 Thousand Guineas - so a feature race is everything for this filly and it’s great for these owners,” Snowden said.
The Triple Crown Syndications-raced daughter of Russian Revolution lifted her career earnings beyond $900,000 with the half-head win over Papillon Club, who she nabbed in the final stride after being strung up behind runners for much of the first half of the straight.
Mark Zahra claimed riding honours with a winning treble. In addition to the Kewney Stakes, he won the Australian Cup Prelude aboard Right You Are – who is now bound for the $3 million Group 1 Australian Cup on March 25 – and final race of the day aboard Meridius.
Lane, added the Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap aboard Scallopini to his Sires’ success, while Ben Melham also pocketed a winning double; the Group 3 Matron Stakes aboard Sirileo miss and VRC Member James Matthies Sprint on the exciting What You Need.
TAB Australian Cup Day will see the running of the $3 million TAB Australian Cup and the Lexus Roy Higgins (2600m), offering the first golden ticket into the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup.