This year’s UBET Festival of Racing was the biggest and best yet and we look back at the top five moments of the three magnificent Saturday’s at Morphettville!
1. Joao Moreira’s Adelaide Racing Debut
In a major coup for the UBET Festival of Racing and the South Australian racing industry, the world’s best jockey Joao Moreira made his Adelaide racing debut on Schweppes Oaks Day.
‘The Magic Man’ came across from Hong Kong to ride the Lindsay Park trained Sheidel and Sebring Dream in the two Group Ones on Schweppes Oaks Day and while he didn’t manage to ride a winner, his presence gave the reborn carnival a significant boost and showed that the carnival can attract both high-quality horses and jockeys.
Moreira was incredibly humble and relaxed during his short stay in Adelaide, happily having a chat and photo with many industry participants and racing fans.
Word is he is keen to return next year for the 2018 UBET Festival of Racing and we hope we can see him again riding in South Australia!
2. Thrilling Finish to the Group 1 Schweppes Oaks
In one of the all-time great finishes to an Australasian Oaks, the Chris Waller trained Egg Tart pipped Darren Weir’s Kenedna on the line to give Waller his first South Australian Group 1 victory.
Egg Tart and Kenedna were sent around as $3.30 and $2.80 chances in the race and the match-race lived up to the hype as both fillies overcame tough runs to flash home late in a race that was decided by a bob of the head.
The win gave Streaky Bay born Kerrin McEvoy his second South Australian Group 1 win after winning the 2010 Derby on Kidnapped.
There is no doubt Egg Tart and Kenedna are now two of Australia’s most promising fillies and will be ones to follow heading into the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
3. Secret Agenda Wins the State’s First $1 Million Race
The state’s first $1 Million race featured a high quality field including Group 1 winners Sheidel, English and I Am a Star but a champion ride from a champion jockey saw Secret Agenda take out the historic race.
A Damien Oliver special saw Secret Agenda drive to the front from the wide barrier to take the lead early on and from then she was never headed as she skipped away in the final stages to beat local hope Viddora by 1.8 lengths.
It was trainer Mick Price’s fourth victory in the UBET Classic (Robert Sangster Stakes) with his first being all the way back in 1998 with Spirit of Love.
The atmosphere in the mounting yard after the race was electric as connections of both Secret Agenda and Viddora celebrated hard.
Secret Agenda who was a $120k purchased collected $600k for the win, taking her career winnings to $1.2 Million while locally owned Viddora collected $170k for running second taking her career prizemoney to $725k. Not bad for $40k purchase!
4. Darren Weir and John Allen Claim Back to Back UBET Derby Wins
After a heartbreaking loss in the Schweppes Oaks the week before, Darren Weir and John Allen rebounded to claim back to back wins in the Group 1 UBET SA Derby with Volatile Mix.
Volatile Mix was a big drifter in the market, opening at $8 with UBET and jumping at $25.50.
A lovely, patient ride from the in-from John Allen had Volatile Mix sitting near the back of the field for the majority of the race but made his run heading into the home turn. At the 200m he got into clear running and then let down with a strong run to finish over the top of the two well backed runners in Ruthven and Odeon.
The three-year-old colt’s win was incredibly impressive, running a time of 2-37.09; the fastest time run in the last 16 years of the SA Derby.
5. Craig Williams’ Fantastic Four on Goodwood Day
It had been a quiet carnival for one of Australia’s best jockeys up until Darley Goodwood Day when Craig Williams’ talent came to the fore.
Williams’ first winner came in race two, the Group 3 National Stakes where he partnered the John McArdle trained I’ll Have a Bit who turned the tables on the last start winner and heavily backed favourite Booker.
The three-year-old filly Exocet provided Williams with his next winner when she won the Listed Centaurea Stakes with a lovely inside run defeating Sort After and Have Another Glass.
His big win came in the $1 Million Group 1 Darley Goodwood when the well supported Vega Magic ($6-$4) gave Williams and David Hayes their first ever Group 1 Goodwood victory.
Vega Magic had not raced since December 2015 after moving over from Perth to the Lindsay Park stable and the money was right when Vega Magic jumped perfectly and drove forward to be amongst the leaders at the turn. He looked to tire for a moment in the straight but kicked back beautifully to drive to the line and hold off Missrock and Casino Wizard.
To cap off a great day for Williams he teamed up again with the Lindsay Park trained Fuhyrk to take out the final race of the day, the Group 3 Proud Miss Stakes.