Attention turns to Flemington

WE have passed the halfway mark in the world’s greatest racing carnival and it is again proving an outstanding year.
The Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup Carnival was a top-class opening chapter for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival which culminates in the 58th running of the Group 2 $301,000 Sportingbet Sandown Guineas (1600 metres) on Saturday, November 15 at Sportingbet Park, Sandown.
The International Quarantine Centre at Werribee has been bursting at the seams with the large influx of international performers seeking a share of the riches on offer, especially for the 154th Emirates Melbourne Cup and the prize money for that race of $6 million plus $200,000 in trophies.
We have seen more of the international visitors than normal as they not only were represented in the Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate but have also contested a number of other events. Owners and trainers realise that the prize money in Australia is on a par with the best in the world and exceeds what is mostly available in Europe. It is expensive to make the trip but it can be rewarding.
At the weekend, Moonee Valley took their turn with the running of the Cox Plate, brilliantly won by Adelaide, but this week the attention turns to Flemington.
Feature of the day is the 160th running of the Group 1 $1,510,000 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500 metres). The Caulfield Classic (2000 metres) (formerly the Norman Robinson Stakes) on Caulfield Cup Day has always been a good guide to the Victoria Derby and last year’s winner, Polanski added the Derby but this year the first two placegetters were fillies. Fontein Ruby beat Crafty and they will head for the Crown Oaks but one, or both could tackle the Group 2 $302,000 Wakeful Stakes (2000 metres) on Saturday.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained, Hampton Court was a somewhat surprise winner of the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000 metres) at Randwick on October 11. He has now won his last two and the manner of his win at Randwick suggests he will be untroubled by the 2500 metres of the Victoria Derby. The Anthony Freedman-trained Nozomi caught the eye with his win in the Geelong Classic (2000 metres) on October 22 when he narrowly beat the favourite, Preferment, from the powerful Chris Waller stables. They will also be major challengers. Other chances look to be Bachman, Atmosphere and Magicool.
Saturday also features the Group 1 weight-for-age $1,002,500 Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000 metres), which will see many having their final start before the Melbourne Cup. The Group 3 $303,000 Lexus Stakes (2500 metres) will also see horses making their last bid for a Melbourne Cup start as the winner is exempt from the ballot.
Sportingbet Sandown Guineas Day will be held at Sportingbet Park, Sandown on Saturday, November 15.

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