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Almanac Racing: Rio’s Racing

Last weekend’s most impressive performer was Malaguerra, cruising to victory in the Group Two Australia Stakes at the Valley, which helped to lift an otherwise underwhelming Friday night of racing. Not even the lure of a free sausage sizzle could attract more than an average crowd, despite it being delightful weather and a pseudo-long weekend.


Tomorrow night’s eight race card is bereft of any notable quality, although another cluster of unraced two-year-olds step out in the first race to shatter or inflate the lofty, untested hopes of trainer and owners alike. One of the main chances in the sixth race, a benchmark 70 for fillies and mares, is the Wez Hunter-trained Magnatti. The three-year-old stepped up to this class from its three-length win on debut and won easily during November. If it can overcome a tough barrier and block out the perennial dialogue from its jockey Craig Williams, it wins again.


Saturday’s Caulfield meeting will make clearer the Blue Diamond pecking order, as well as signalling the beginning of an Autumn campaign for a number of horses that looked promising last Spring.


The pick of the early races comes in the third, where the Robert Hickmott stable presents Chance to Dance under the in-form Ben Melham. It has been very narrowly beaten in much better company twice of three this prep and should relish the extra distance given here.


Race five, the Chairman’s Stakes, was completely owned by Extreme Choice last year; he then backed up by smashing Flying Artie when winning the Blue Diamond. There’s a groundswell of hype around a couple in this year’s edition after eye-catching debut wins. Formality, of the Hayes and Dabernig stable, quickly put four lengths on her rivals at Werribee. Aspect resumes after beating a solid bunch in the prestigious Maribyrnong Plate, and Balle D’or must have come on nicely for Robert Smerdon to back it up after its third at Moonee Valley last Friday night.


Danuki looks the one to beat in the sixth, dropping in class and distance off a four-week break. Weir’s only runner, Turbo Miss, is first up and can challenge.


The Manfred Stakes, race seven, shapes up as a difficult race to call, with most of the field having their first run after a challenging Spring program. Watch the market moves for indications. Wazzenme represents value ($34 in early markets) resuming after a number of excellent runs against class horses last preparation. He won his first ever race, demonstrating that he can salute first-up.


The eighth race, over 1000 metres, again throws up several chances. Faatinah has never lost first-up, and will start as favourite. It won’t be short of competition, however, with Thermal Current and Lady Espirit both coming off nice wins. If they are at their best it will be some race. Sunday Escape was beaten half a length by Lady Espirit last start when he raced wide without cover, and gave her two kilograms. They meet each other equal at the weights this time.


Caulfield’s final race will also be the last ride of Darren Gauci’s career. I’m nowhere near old enough to have seen his stunning apprentice years, or the majority of his Group Ones, but I admire him immensely for being able to last as long as he has in such a strenuous profession. For those with longer memories, what was the Gauch’s best ride?


Gauci will ride Longeron, which is not without a chance, but will have to beat better prospects. Duke of Brunswick rarely misses a place and looks the one to beat. Smart Dart won last weekend and wouldn’t surprise many if he won again.


Elsewhere, the Woolamai Racing Club should pull a good crowd for its Cup Day on what’s supposed to be a sunny Saturday. Not that I’ve ever tried, but I can imagine backing a winner at a Woolamai picnic meeting is a tremendously testing task. Good luck to the happy punters down on the coast.

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About Tom Riordan

Tom Riordan is in his second year of a Bachelor of Journalism at Swinburne University. He loves all sports, and plays for Brunswick Cricket Club. He supports the Western Bulldogs and can be found on weekends among half a dozen others in Q38 on the top level of the MCC.


  1. Pageantry looks the value in the Chairman’s Stakes. Beat a very strong maiden field at Seymour in slick time.

  2. Big crowd at this Valley meeting last year despite the terrible fields….great support from Chinese community and free admission, lots of food trucks and a Mandarin caller. Good weather and good fun.

  3. The baton has been passed. I can recall making regular donations to the Riordan educational and nutritional trust fund at Globe Derby trots in the 70’s; in Tom’s grandfather’s role as a leading trots bookmaker. While I keep my hand in my pocket these days, it is good to see the money eventually trickled down to some good use in Tom’s education.
    More columns please – I want to see an ongoing return on my investment.
    Reading your column led me back to your dad’s great reminiscence of a few years back:

  4. Thanks Peter.
    More reminiscences…Hunter Cup tomorrow night. I still have my Poppy keyring!

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