SA doesn’t have the numbers of the Eastern States but we showed again during the Melbourne Spring that our best horses are competitive anywhere.
Leading trainer Tony McEvoy captured the headlines when his outstanding sprinter Hey Doc claimed the Group 1 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley the night before the Cox Plate, but there were many other examples of South Australian stables getting amongst the money during the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Even in that elite race itself, while the Duporth four-year-old was establishing himself as one of the best sprinters in the land, SA’s sprinting queen Viddora was sending out a message that, with any luck, she might have been a dual G1 winner. She ran a luckless fourth in the Manikato, four weeks after looking a good thing beaten behind champion filly She Will Reign in the G1 Moir, also at the Valley. The two results netted the brilliant I Am Invincible mare $135,000, but it was a case of what might have been for trainer Lloyd Kennewell and jockey Joe Bowditch if she’d got a better run at them earlier in either race.
One thing to come out of the Manikato, in particular, is that the two SA-trained sprinters can no longer be taken for granted in any sprint anywhere.
McEvoy seized an important win with significant future ramifications when his Makfi colt Run Naan kept his unbeaten record intact in the Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day. It provided much-needed black type and earnings necessary for entry into next year’s big two-year-old races and McEvoy said it would allow him to put the colt aside and prepare him for a Blue Diamond or Golden Slipper tilt.
McEvoy was also in the winner’s stall on Melbourne Cup Day when top SA rider Jamie Kah won the Lavazza Short Black on Dollar For Dollar. The High Chaparral five-year-old went into the Flemington 1400m race off the back of successive Morphettville Parks wins and he franked that form by cruising home a length and a half winner over Land of Plenty in a slick 1.22.15.
It was a huge Melbourne Spring for the McEvoy stable. Cool Passion followed a third in the Listed Wylie Handicap over the Morphettville 1100m with a win in the G3 Northwood Plume Handicap at Caulfield on October 14. The Not A Single Doubt mare continued her great form with further placings in Group company at Caulfield and Flemington.
Bring Me Roses established herself as a class staying filly of the future when she cruised home in the Edward Manifold Stakes at Flemington on October 7. It
once again proved the standard of Adelaide racing, as she had to settle for second to Silent Command at her previous outing in the Listed Morphettville Guineas.
The form held up, with the daughter of High Chaparral running a slashing second to Pinot in the Group 1 Kennedy VRC Oaks on November 9.
It wasn’t all the Tony McEvoy show for South Australia. Several other stables had significant victories with horses that took strong Adelaide form across the border.
In late October, Ryan Balfour claimed one of Victoria’s best country cups with his decision to bypass the downhill contours of Murray Bridge and take on the vaster expanses of Seymour with the exciting Balf’s Choice. In one of the most popular victories for SA all year, the Written Tycoon five-year-old went into the Seymour mile at ridiculous double figure odds and, after looming up rounding the bend, defied all challengers and proved too strong for Radipole and Moss ‘N’ Dale. He followed his Seymour Cup win with a strong fourth to Odeon in the Listed Cup Day Plate on Melbourne Cup Day.
Strathalbyn trainer John MacMillan also had success across the border in October, when Kaphero four-year-old Mile High won over the flying Moonee Valley 955m in a sizzling 55.12 seconds.
The Will Clarken-trained Steel Frost came off successive Morphettville Parks wins to take out a BM78 over 1400m at Caulfield on October 1, then made if four straight by winning again at Caulfield two weeks later. Regular SA rider Todd Pannell turned in a couple of outstanding rides at the Heath, giving the horse every chance with weights of 59.5 and 59 kg.