Whistlejacket's Day at the Derby

The flying horsebox landed and this time it wasn't the cold but the threatening damp that nearly sent straight back.

Visiting UK Jockey James Doyle
Visiting UK Jockey James Doyle Picture: Racing and Sports

Downdraft winner Hotham Stakes jockey John Allen
Downdraft winner Hotham Stakes jockey John Allen Picture: Racing and Sports

Shadow Hero -5th in Derby
Shadow Hero -5th in Derby Picture: Racing and Sports

Soul Patch 3rd in Derby
Soul Patch 3rd in Derby Picture: Racing and Sports

Southern Moon 2nd in Derby
Southern Moon 2nd in Derby Picture: Racing and Sports

Warning Derby winner jockey Damien Oliver
Warning Derby winner jockey Damien Oliver Picture: Racing and Sports

But it was Derby Day, for us one of the best day's racing, so one donned the wet-weather gear and headed to Flemington, where one felt sorry for the gardeners – the one who was leaving and the one who was starting – as their beautiful gardens were unable to be fully appreciated without sun. 

Horses, fortunately, are very obliging and given the thought that they will get a very good feed after they return home were prepared to come and parade and run their best.

The first race was formerly known as the Linlithgow  Stakes and the horses came out, paraded and didn't have to run too far as it was over 1200m and the horse that went the fastest was the South Australian Kemalpasa, no doubt anxious to get back to the warmth of his home state.

The Wakeful Stakes for the 3yo fillies was sponsored by that fine supporter of all things festive G.H. Mumm saw the speedy Miami Bound romp away with the race and give Damien Oliver his first success of the day. It was over 2000m and the record is held by Makybe Diva! It was also Oliver's 73rd win over the Carnival, a new record.

We were chatting with the owners of Dalasan before the Carbine Club Stakes and they said he had been very upset by being made to wear blinkers.  Today the blinkers were gone and we noted how well he behaved in the parade ring.  He then went and behaved perfectly in the race by winning it!  It's interesting to see how such a little thing such as blinkers can upset a horse and then their removal make him a happy chappy!

Now the Hotham – this was the last chance for several horses to make it into the Melbourne Cup field.  Irish contender Downdraft improved on his third in the Moonee Valley Cup.  He's trained by Joseph O'Brien who saddled Rekindling to victory in 2017 and who in addition to being the youngest jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race became the youngest trainer to win one overnight.

The Empire Rose for the girls went to the bonny New Zealand mare Melody Bell which delighted the Kiwis who were still somewhat downcast over their loss to England in the Rugby World Cup!  Visiting English jockey James Doyle was unlucky in this but he will be glued to the tele tomorrow morning when his sister Sophie will be riding in the Breeders' Cup Classic!

The Coolmore was a real thriller with Exceedance for the Hawkes Team and Dwayne Dunn got the better of the favourite Bivouac.  We met up with Irish former jockey now trainer Johnny Murtagh and his wife and as usual there is never a dull moment. 

Then it was time for the big one and waiting for the 15 3yos to come and do their thing, and sure enough as soon as they started coming in to the parade ring back came the rain!  Biding his time Damien Oliver sat on Warning and waited to make his move, and when he did it was decisive and they went on to score a great win.  Anthony Freedman had done the training and the rest was done by D.Oliver.

One final international runner was Chief Ironside who had one last week in the Mile at Moonee Valley but this time it was not his lucky day, and he had a bad run and was found to be lame after.  However there was a Japanese influence in the winner Fierce Impact who is by the Japanese super-star Deep Impact.

So it was once more unto the rain and weave our way to our Melbourne stables and dry out the horse blankets so we can look smart on Tuesday.

Racing and Sports