Horse Racing: Australia’s leading trainer Darren Weir has collected his seventh Group 1 of the season with Humidor winning the Australian Cup at Flemington.
DARREN Weir’s horsemanship delivered a maiden Australian Cup victory — and a seventh Group 1 scalp this season — as race-day rogue Humidor capped an eventful and satisfying Saturday for Victoria’s premier trainer.
Cleared by Racing Victoria stewards of any wrongdoing after a syringe was found in Humidor’s box during a routine stable check at 3am, Weir watched as the former Kiwi overhauled Jameka and Exospheric in a stunning performance.
Weir was elated on two fronts — Humidor’s ability to defy a track pattern which favoured on-pacers and the fact he resisted the temptation to add gear to the quirky gelding.
Humidor had been his own worst enemy since transferring from NZ trainer Johno Benner, firing up in the mounting yard and on the way to the barriers.
Weir decided to remove all of the gear Benner used — a crossover noseband, blinkers, lugging bit and a tongue tie — and the decision paid rich dividends on Saturday.
“At home, he’s great. He’s good down the beach. We haven’t seen any of his antics in the mounting yard until that day (at Caulfield),” Weir said.
“Obviously he come to us with quite a bit of gear on, so obviously he’s a bit difficult to ride.
“Normally when we get these types of horses, we take all the gear off and start from scratch.
“There was temptation to put the gear on but I kept going back and saying to myself ‘he can’t be going any better than he’s going’ and I kept saying ‘no’ to myself.”
Jockey Damian Lane said Weir’s knack of reforming Humidor was “a classic example of Darren setting one for a race and being right on the day”
“He’s slowly got better in his manners and his demeanour and he paraded better today,” Lane said.
“He got a bit hot but not as bad as he has been. Came around to the start beautifully and in the run I knew he was travelling well and I just needed the right drag into the race and I got it.”
Ninth at the 800m as Jameka bravely shrugged off Ecuador, Humidor stormed unleashed a searing sprint to prevail by a long neck.
“We’ve done a lot of work with him to get him to settle and run on and, with the way the track was playing, it was playing on my mind all day, but I said to the owners there’s no point in riding him out of his pattern,” Lane said.
“Fortunately, the speed was genuine and he was too good on the day.”
RV chairman of stewards Terry Bailey said the plunger found in Humidor’s feed bin had been inadvertently left there by a stable hand, who had forgotten to give the horse the liquid.
‘’We’ve no problems with the circumstances and no rules have been broken,’’ Bailey said.
Bailey said as the liquid was to be used before nightly feeds and there was no concerns with rules covering race day treatment nor the 24-hour rule, which bans alkalising agents a full day out from racing.
Humidor, Jameka and Exospheric are all likely to clash again in the BMW Stakes (2400m) at Rosehill in two weeks.
Damien Oliver was suspended for 12 meetings after pleading guilty to careless riding on Exospheric, causing interference to Tally, in the Australian Cup.
With Michael Manley
DID YOU SEE/HEAR?
Payne doesn’t miss a trick
MICHELLE Payne was back tweeting on Saturday but should escape a fine this time but her tweet did have an edge. Two days after being fined $1500 for criticising Flemington track manager Mick Goodie.
Payne tweeted on Saturday: “I’m not going to say anything I’ll go broke but I hope something comes of it. Or everyone sit around & watch and be happy with what we have.”
Big Blue joins charity walk
BIG effort by Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer on Saturday morning. After playing in the JLT series against Fremantle in Friday night he caught ‘the red-eye back’ from Perth on Saturday morning and then walked the last leg of the ‘Walk For Phil’ charity from Moonee Valley to Flemington. 140 walkers including Racing Victoria’s Greg Carpenter set-out from Caulfield at 5am and walked to Moonee Valley and then Flemington covering 27km.
They raised $100,000 for three charities — Pinchapoo, Very special kids and Pancare. Subzero also joined the walkers down the Flemington straight. The walk was held in honour of former leading owner Phil Sly, who died last year.
Another Saturday and another day of two-year-olds winning for Lindsay Park with Plutocracy winning the first in Adelaide and Tulip winning the Magic Night Stakes at Rosehill.
They now have won 25 two-year-old races from 14 individual winners which have won 24 races. A plunge went astray on the Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young-trained Weapon which was backed from $9 into $2 but missed the start and raced greenly before finishing fourth.
Purcell could get used to the flat stuff
WARRNAMBOOL trainer Aaron Purcell called on his former Warrnambool mate Ciaron Maher to secure Hugh Bowman to ride Falcool who won the Incognitus Stakes. “I saw High didn’t have a ride so I rang Ciaron up and he got his racing manager to get him on.” Purcell said he enjoyed Falcool winning a listed sprint as he doesn’t want to be pigeon holed as a trainer of stayers and jumpers.
Jarrod Fry’s love affair with Rocket Tommy continued on Saturday when he made it seven wins on the grey sprinter. Fry is the only jockey to have won on the Gwenda Johnstone trained sprinter. She is setting Rocket Tommy for The Goodwood in Adelaide a race they won in 2008 with Shadoways.
I’m not going to say anything I’ll go broke but I hope something comes of it. Or everyone sit around & watch and be happy with what we have.
— Michelle Payne (@mj_payne) March 11, 2017
Crowd on the slide at headquarters
AGAIN a nose dive in the crowd with the Flemington crowd for the Newmarket/Australian Cup falling from 21,729 to 17,993. Again the building of the new grandstand has taken the blame.
Magic not quite the same
LAST Sunday it was eight winners from nine rides at Sha Tin for the Magic Man Joao Moreira. On Saturdaday at Flemington it was the opposite with one winner from nine rides. On Saturday he had one winner which was Circular, a second placing on Hursley and a third on Feng Chu.
Riderless horse runs back into field
A MAJOR catastrophe almost occurred in the opening race at Newcastle when late scratching at the barriers Stryke A Ransom escaped her handlers and headed off in the opposite direction to the other fillies and mares who contested the opening race. As the race finished Stryke A Ransom was next to the outside rail going in the opposite direction. The horse bit the clerk of the course’s hand and he lost control.
HORSES TO FOLLOW
TIVACI: Was second last with 400m to go and was also held up for a run before he charged home in the Newmarket where he ran the fastest last 200m of 11.23 seconds.
EXOSPHERIC: A big race win awaits this former classy English galloper. He was last into the straight in the Australian Cup and Damien Oliver was then held up at the 300m mark before he weaved his way to the fence and he ran on to finish third.
JAMEKA: Amazingly tough effort from this top class mare. She had to work hard early, being trapped three wide for the first 800m before Hugh Bowman managed to get her to race outside Ecuador. Booted clear in the straight only to be run down by Humidor.
SWEET SHERRY: Had to feel a bit sorry for her connections as she easily won the outside fence division of the straight race carrying 60kg in the process but had to settle for fourth.
WATERLOO SUNSET: Well bred filly who carried blinkers first time. She too raced down the outside section of the track but finished on strongly running 11.69 seconds for the last 200m to finish eighth. She’s in for a good campaign.
TAB BIG BETS
Top Me Up ($8-$9.50) led throughout to cause the upset in the first event.
Most punters were focused on the two favourites in Dusty Jack ($3.50) and Cannyescent ($3.60-$2.80-$3.10), with the latter especially seeing very good money late.
Between the two favs they held 65 per cent of all bets in the race.
Battlecamp became somewhat of the forgotten horse in betting after bottoming out at $3.90, went out to $4.80 at the jump.
BETS: Cannyescent $2500 @ $3.50; Dusty Jack $2000 @ $3.50
Aloft ($9.50-$10) made it consecutive winners to lead throughout at Flemington.
Ben Melham dictated terms out in front and held the hot favourite Hursley ($3) in a pocket thanks to the presence of Dodging Bullets ($8.50).
Getting a split to the inside only 50m out, Hursley dived through to grab second and looked a good thing beaten while Dodging Bullets held third.
Try Four, who was backed from $9 into $6, wound up fourth.
BETS: Aloft $1000 @ $10; Hursley $2000 @ $3 MULTIPLE TIMES
Falcool, ridden by Hugh Bowman, stuck to the far side of the track and finished too well.
Drifting from $13 out to $16, Falcool was largely ignored in betting but hit the line full of running to score easily in the end.
Race favourite Ken’s Dream drifted from $3.80 out to $4.50 but ran second and was easily the most popular runner in terms of money held.
Sheriff John Stone ($26) wound up third in front of Sweet Sherry ($17-$14) who led the division that went to the grandstand side home.
BETS: Kens Dream $2000 @ $3.80
Sircconi ($9-$12) made it yet another leader to get the money at Flemington.
Leading throughout with Linda Meech on board, Sircconi gripped on to beat Aspect ($10-$7) who had to race outside it for the majority of the race.
Punters were left with empty pockets though as the heavily backed Eshtiraak ($3.20-$2.10-$2.35) missed the start and then couldn’t run on at the finish.
Overall the Hayes/Dabernig runner was responsible for 55 per cent of all bets.
BETS: Eshtiraak $6000 @ $2.45
Favourite backers were spot on here with I Am A Star ($2) getting the better of Ellicazoom ($5.50-$7).
Sitting one-one, Dean Yendall peeled three-wide on straightening and despite being in the slow lane had enough class to get past Ellicazoom, which sat outside the leader.
Kenedna, a drifter from $7.50 out to $10, was one of the few horses to make ground from back in the field early in the program and grabbed third.
Red Is The Rose had specking early in the morning ($31-$17-$21) and held on to fourth.
Bottoming out at $1.95 before starting at even money, I Am A Star was one of the best-backed runners in Australia and held 70 per cent of the total investment here.
BETS: I Am A Star $16,000 @ $2.50 (taken earlier in the week), $8000 @ $2, $5000 @ $2 MULTIPLE TIMES
Circular ($5-$3.60) landed some good bets in taking out the Schweppervescence Trophy.
Following through on the rails and then peeling around the leader’s heels shortly after straightening, Circular put paid to her rivals before holding off the fast-finishing Zasorceress ($$13-$11-$17).
Miss Rose De Lago was heavily supported at the $5 and ran a good race after leading to hold third.
Nurse Kitchen ($13-9.50-$11) had very good eachway support throughout the day and in fact only Miss Rose De Lago and Circular held more money than it.
BETS: Circular $4000 @ $3.50, $3000 @ $3.80
Sitting outside Star Turn ($6.50-$8), Redkirk Warrior put paid to that runner at the 200m mark with Regan Bayliss getting the best out of the Hayes/Dabernig runner to land the upset.
Voodoo Lad ($17-$19) flashed home for second while Star Turn held the minor end of the prize.
Most of the money in the race, 45 per cent of it in fact, rested with Spieth ($3.60-$4.20).
Extreme Choice ($5.50-$3.90-$4) was easily the best backed to beat the favourite, however, held only half the money than it did.
BETS: Extreme Choice $9900 @ $4; Spieth $4000 @ $4.20
Humidor ($3.80-$4.20) and Jameka ($4.50-$3.80-$4.20) fought for favouritism right throughout the day.
In the end they went out $4.20 equal picks but Jameka held more than double the amount of money that the winner did.
Settling back in the field, Humidor came down the centre of the Flemington straight with Damien Lane timing his run perfectly to knock off Jameka who had to work three-wide for a good portion of the trip.
Between them they held nearly half of all bets on the TAB Australian Cup.
Exospheric ($8-$10) was last and took inside runs to grab third.
The United States ($6.50-$5.50) and Ecuador ($15-$11) had good money late while Stratum Star attracted some sizeable investments.
BETS: Humidor $6000 @ $4; Stratum Star $8000 @ $7.50; Jameka $4000 e/w @ $4.40/$1.79, $2000 @ $4.50, $2000 @ $4.40 MULTIPLE TIMES
Punters were spot on in the final event with Rocket Tommy leading most of the way down the straight.
The Gwenda Johnstone-trained runner was as much as $7 earlier in the week, however, that price didn’t last long.
Weight of money saw it start on Saturday at $3.80 and that is the price it jumped at.
Leading throughout, Rocket Tommy easily defeated Bullpit ($8-$12-$16) and Lonrockstar ($35).
Shaf ($6-$5.50) actually went out as the most popular runner in terms of money taken.
BETS: Rocket Tommy $4275 @ $3.70, $3000 @ $3.70
Originally published as Humidor has Weir in seventh heaven