Winter colour highlights VRC Community Race Day
A classic winter Flemington card delivered big fields for a June race day celebrating community and opportunity.
King Magnus reigns again, Winter Championship next
Co-trainers Robbie Griffiths and Mat de Kock never seemed to lose faith in their warhorse King Magnus and despite going winless for more than 18 months, the now seven-year-old is racing like a much younger horse having won his second race within a month at Flemington.
“He’s racing like a three-year-old,” de Kock said after the VRC Community Plate (1400m).
“He never looked like not winning and he keeps batting up and doing his best.”
The Listed Winter Championship Final over 1600 metres is the seasonal aim for the son of Magnus and if toughness is a required characteristic to win at Flemington, King Magnus has that in spades.
Gai Waterhouse shines on the staying front
A Melbourne Cup winning-trainer and Flemington-based, racing’s first lady knows how to train a stayer and her latest shining example, with training partner Adrian Bott, is Teofilo Star who notched three wins in succession with victory in the Good Friday Appeal Plate (2520m) with Linda Meech in the saddle.
“It is a bit of a thrill riding a winner for Gai,” Meech said.
“I’ve done a lot of work for her over time.”
Carrying 53-kilos, the options are broader for the five-year-old as further jumping features await but also now proven at Flemington, there’s more staying races ahead through the winter with the final of the Banjo Patterson Series (2600m) also coming up on July 1.
Steparty makes an impression as a Next Gen sprinter
Trainer Paul Preusker is no stranger to success at Flemington and Steparty’s win in the Royal Children’s Hospital Trophy (1200m) – a heat of the Next Generation Sprinters Series – was likely his biggest thrill at the course of history since Lunar Fox won the Group 1 VRC Oaks in 2019.
Jockey Dean Yendall forecasted the colt’s potential months earlier and the early indications with two wins from two starts are vindicating his thoughts.
“I think he’s the best horse you’ve ever had,” Yendall recalled saying to Preusker.
“I’ve watched a lot of his horses go through the grades, including his other good ones, but this horse is pretty good.”
Robbie Downey rides first Flemington winner
26-year-old Irish-born Robbie Downey notched a lifetime highlight in the RCH Staff Appreciation Plate (2000m) as he steered Verifier to victory.
Beginning his riding career on the all-weather track at Dundalk in Ireland in January 2013, Downey broke through at Flemington at his tenth attempt at the course.
It was a reward for the early morning work ridden at a chilly Ballarat.
“You have to put on a few jackets going to Ballarat but it is good to have a good team of horses and I really appreciate him putting me for my first winner at Flemington,” he said.
Top of the day
Honours were shared with Blake Shinn, Celine Gaudray and Linda Meech all riding two winners each while it was single wins for nine trainers, or training partnerships, across the card.
Colours of the day
And, on a day of colourful winter racing, the most prominent colours to feature on winning silks were:
- Blue (including navy blue and royal blue) on four winners
- Black on four winners
- Honourable mentions to Apple Green, Fuchsia and Lime appearing on one winner each.
Winter racing continues at Flemington on June 17 featuring more heats of the series for sprinters, middle distance performers and for the stayers.