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The Banker looks back on a big day to finalise the Victorian Spring Carnival

Talk about taking a hammering on the punt with not one favourite saluting on the 10-race card that included a number of short-priced horses. The ‘shorties’ were not just beaten, they were comprehensively beaten and had punters licking their wounds. 

However, the action on the track was strong with the feature race of the day, the Listed Ballarat Cup, a thrilling affair with only a half-length separating the first six horses across the line. This year’s Victorian Spring Carnival, which commenced back on August 29 at Caulfield with the running of the Group 1 Memsie Stakes, was like no other spring previously experienced, and let us hope we do not have to experience anything like it again.

RUNS OF THE DAY

As the day wore on it became clearer that the win of RIDING THE WAVE in the opener, a benchmark 70 race over 1100m, was ultra-impressive. The Lindsay Smith-trained galloper sat back in the field before unleashing a powerful finish out towards the middle of the track. Many thought that may provide the pattern of the day, but as the day wore on those racing on the speed were advantaged. Smith is talking about taking Riding The Wave to the Listed Standish Handicap at Flemington on New Year’s Day and how could you disagree with him.

There is only one right-handed race run in Victoria which is the Magic Millions 2YO Clockwise Classic, the secondary feature on Ballarat Cup day. It is invariably won by a horse that races on the speed and has the best racing manners. This year READILY AVAILABULL bucked that trend, although his racing manners were impeccable. A slow start saw Readily Availabull back with the tailenders just before the turn ahead of the run up the hill going the reverse way. The John Sargent-trained youngster showed his strength in running out a narrow winner and is worth following on his return to NSW.

Resuming from a spell, SNAPDANCER had to overcome a wide draw from the 1200m start in a benchmark 78 race for fillies and mares. Jockey John Allen had her close to the speed before the turn and when he asked for the ultimate effort, she exploded clear to win by a widening two-and-a-quarter lengths. It was a win that suggested there are bigger wins in store this campaign and trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace are considering a trip north for the Magic Millions carnival on the Gold Coast.

Irish Flame (NZ) and Michael Walker get the essential stride in to win the listed Ballarat Cup, picture Racing Photos

RUNS TO FORGIVE

After a stint in Adelaide with Will Clarken and another in Darwin with Gary Clarke, ENIGMAN is back with the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable and won’t be long in breaking through. His return run for the stable was encouraging as he was held up rounding the hometurn and early in the straight before flashing home late for third place behind Excess Funds. He is certainly worth following in the coming weeks.

A look at the results will show ARCTIC SHOCK, from the John and Chris Meagher stable, finished in 13th position, a little over nine lengths from the winner Snapdancer. However, at no stage in the 1200m contest was jockey Craig Williams able to fully test the mare when locked up behind horses at her first outing since August. It was a complete forgive run, in essence a barrier trial, for her next start.

The Lindsay Park-trained THINK ‘N’ FLY can be forgiven in the race dominated by Skiddaw up on the speed. Having won at Bendigo at his previous start, Think ‘N’ Fly met with good support in the Suez McKellar Mile. Damien Oliver was able to find a good spot, although Think ‘N’ Fly was a little keen, but on the point of the turn he was bumped and lost his footing. That ended the gelding’s winning chances, but he’s worth following, especially on a big, roomy track.

FROM THE WEST

It was rock star treatment for WA's favourite son William Pike after he stormed home on Inpsirational Girl (NZ) to win the Group 1 Railway Stakes over 1600m to give the Grant and Alana Williams trained five-year-old Reliable Man mare her ninth win from 11 starts. The Ascot crowd lauded Pike as he returned to scale. After a successful spring in Melbourne his return to the West was simply picking up where he left off.

FROM THE STEWARDS

The Gauch, lame, veterinary certificate required; Flag Edition, lame, veterinary certificate required; Butter Blonde, lacerations off fore, veterinary certificate required; Cape Victory, lame, veterinary certificate required; Inverloch, lame, veterinary certificate required.
Billy Egan, whip use, eight meeting suspension; Luke Currie, careless riding, 11 meeting suspension.

WHAT’S ON NEXT WEEK

What was looking like a ho-hum meeting at The Valley on Saturday has been boosted by the addition of two Listed sprint races, the Carlyon Stakes (1000m) for the older sprinters and the McKenzie Stakes (1200m) for three-year-olds. Both races have been reprogrammed from the abandon meeting at The Valley on August 22 when rain washed-out the meeting after five races. In the west, the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) will be run at Ascot which is always a highly sought-after contest.

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