Worth a second look...

Three fantastic days of racing at Caulfield concluded last Saturday with the running of its premier event supported by a thoroughly entertaining racecard, though there was probably as much to learn from the preceding midweek program on Wednesday as there was on the Melbourne Racing Club’s signature afternoon of racing…

DURSTON (GB) and MANKAYAN (IRE) fought out the finish of the Nick Johnstone Real Estate Handicap (2000m) last Wednesday and while the contest was essentially your ‘run of the mill’ Benchmark 78 on paper, both imported stayers did enough to suggest that they can figure in black-type company at their next few starts.

Having only his second run in Australia and his first since the initial week of August, Durston (GB) fought like a bulldog to secure victory and is very clearly a genuine stayer with tremendous resolve.

Boasting British form behind the likes of star stayers Sir Ron Priestly and Technician, Durston (GB) has proven performance in Pattern Race company already on the board and proved with an uber-game win on the midweek program at Caulfield that he is thriving in the Victorian training set-up of Ciaron Maher & David Eustace.

Likewise, Mankayan (Ire) has only had four starts in Australia and gone close to opening up his local winning account each time.

Also prepared by Maher and Eustace, Mankayan (Ire) has very recently placed at 1600m, 2000m and 2400m without giving any real indication as to what distance suits him best, though his two wins to date were over 2393m and 2419m on the galloping tracks of Salisbury and Doncaster in Britain. 

Mankayan (Ire) gives the impression that the open expanses of Flemington should see him put his best foot forward, so his placement during the Melbourne Cup Carnival should prove to be of genuine interest. Similarly Durston (GB), a last start winner with plenty of upsides as he settles into the Australian style of racing.

DOUBLE YOU TEE is another proven stayer working towards a major mission in the not too distant future if his performance in the Group 2 Neds Coongy Cup (2000m) proves to be any sort of guide.

Trained by Paddy Payne, the seasoned 7-year-old was only getting warm when hitting the line strongly under Billy Egan and is clearly going to be better suited in the coming weeks when extended to 2400 metres if not even further still.

Winner of the Group 3 Hobart Cup (2400m) last February, Double You Tee will have benefited greatly from last week’s outing behind Duais and can be expected to further improve with racing over the coming weeks when heading into Flemington and a quick succession of Victorian country cups.  

Speaking of Paddy Payne, the former ace jockey had no luck with DOUCEUR when the 3-year-old filly lined-up in the first of the day on Caulfield’s The Thousand Guineas program.

Ridden by Michael Dee in the eight horse event, Douceur had nowhere to go when stuck on the fence behind the leaders over the closing stages, eventually finishing sixth — beaten a length-and-half!

Raced in the same colours as the stable’s high-class 4-year-old Cherry Tortoni, Douceur also has her fair share of ability and is worth keeping tabs on, especially with Flemington providing so many opportunities for the daughter of No Nay Never.

In terms of Saturday’s best performances, EL PATRONESS found Gunstock (NZ) too strong to hold out in the Group 3 MRC Caulfield Classic (2000m) but still managed to turn in another notable VRC Oaks trial as the only filly in the 11-horse contest.

A daughter of Shamus Award yet to finish out of a place in four starts, El Patroness had defeated Gunstock (NZ) at her previous outing and again showed her staying promise by racing on the pace and boxing on strongly over the closing stages, holding a clear advantage over Teewaters in third, who in turn finished close to four lengths clear of the remainder of the field.

In addition to beating all but one of her nine male rivals home, El Patroness’ effort is further rubber stamped by the fact that the winning time of her event was close on a second faster than that recorded in the fillies-only Oaks trial won by Daisies just 40 minutes beforehand.

One of three-to-four members of the Danny O’Brien team heading to the VRC Melbourne Cup Carnival with a genuine chance of landing a Classic, El Patroness should prove to be very competitive when she returns to racing against her own gender.