Arrogate and jockey Mike Smith's final surge in the Breeders' Cup Classic to defeat favorite California Chrome by half a length was arguably the best ride of the 2016 Championships. Santa Anita hasn't been the only track hosting top-quality racing action recently, with Sydney's and Melbourne's Spring Racing Carnivals showcasing the Emirates Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate among other G1 races.
The Australian spring racing season is over, so now is the perfect time to recap on the jockeys and horses who pulled out all the stops and gave performances to equal Arrogate and Smith.
Brenton Avdulla & Lasqueti Spirit at Crown Oaks, Nov. 2nd (Click here to watch)
Expectation can be a strain for a first-time runner in a G1 race, and that pressure only intensifies when a horse enters a race without the required racing style to fare well. This was the case with Crown Oaks starter Lasqueti Spirit, known for being too slow to be a sprinter and lacking a turn of foot. But jockey Brenton Avdulla had faith in her, despite their 100-1 odds.
Lasqueti Spirit, who failed to win nine starts prior to the Crown Oaks, dashed away early in the Oaks and opened an eight-length advantage on the backstretch. Under Avdulla's direction, the pair pulled off a stunning upset over her rivals, including Cox Plate third placegetter Yankee Rose. Their magnificent staying performance had Avdulla celebrate joyously atop Lasqueti Spirit as they crossed the finish line.
Kerrin McEvoy & Almandin at the Emirates Melbourne Cup, Oct. 31st (Click here to watch)
Kevin McEvoy was only 20 when he won the 2000 Melbourne Cup atop Brew. Several unsuccessful attempts to defend his title followed and it was not until this year that he returned to the winner's circle of the Cup. McEvoy paired up with the Robert Hickmott-trained gelding Almandin, who had two G3 victories under his belt.
The first half the race unfolded in a push-and-pull fashion, with the horses frequently shifting positions. The field began to clear out, though, as favorite Hartnell took the lead at the home stretch. Joao Moreira quickly caught-up atop Heartbreak City, but McEvoy and Almandin soon joined the lead, storming down the home run. It became clear that the final seconds would be a two-horse race as Hartnell fell back. Only meters from the finish, McEvoy and Moreira engaged in a battle for supremacy, with McEvoy ultimately conquering by a nose.
Hugh Bowman & Flying Artie at the Coolmore Stud Stakes, Oct. 28th (Click here to watch)
Following a historic win in the 2016 Cox Plate, Hugh Bowman further distinguished himself as one of the most successful Australian jockeys with his Coolmore Club Stakes victory. Bowman rode Flying Artie, the star of the G3 Catanach's Blue Sapphire Stakes. He skillfully steered the three-year-old colt to overpower the heavily backed Astern by one-and-a-quarter lengths.
Bowman was initially forced to the inside rail but was able to navigate to the center of the course when they reached the midway point. He and Flying Artie broke through an opening in the field and fended off the fast-approaching Astern by a length and a half. The Coolmore Stud Stakes was Flying Artie's first G1 win.
Hugh Bowman & Winx at the Cox Plate, Oct 21st (Click here to watch)
Now boasting a 13 out of 13 record, Winx is a racing phenomenon because she can take out a field without much effort – and this was evident again at the Cox Plate. Teaming up with Hugh Bowman for a second shot at Cox Plate victory, the duo managed to turn the race into a one-sided affair.
Bowman was focused on taking it easy in the Cox Plate and kept Winx on the outside throughout the race. He knew that the race would declare its winner at the mile, and at that point he could have loosened the rein. But at the 800-meter mark, James McDonald and Hartnell offered serious competition, so Bowman had no choice but to push Winx. He drew level with Hartnell and only at the 300-meter line could Bowman relax. As they rode down the home turn, Winx had already broken away from the field to cross the finish line with a record eight lengths.
Dean Yendall & Yankee Rose at the Spring Champion Stakes, Oct 7th (Click here to watch)
The Spring Champion Stakes was the first time Dean Yendall rode Yankee Rose, but the jockey handled her with perfect timing. The lightweight Yendall settled the three-year-old filly fourth last in the early run, allowing Ready Fire Aim to hold the lead. At the point where Fire Aim was beginning to lose the lead to Swear and Honeywine, Yendall unleashed Yankee Rose on her male rivals, charging fast down the outside to the finish line. It was an excellent run, with Yendall earning his first G1 win, while Yankee Rose made history as the first filly to win the Spring Champion Stakes.
These five rides were the highlights of the Spring Carnival, which demonstrated yet again the high quality of Australian racing. American race fans can live-stream and wager on upcoming races from Down Under at US advance deposit wagering sites such as TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, BetAmerica, WatchandWager, and NYRA Bets. Meanwhile, Sky Racing World's website provides free form guides and betting tips on all Australian races.
About David Haslett
A former Managing Director of Sportech Racing, David was appointed President and CEO of Sky Racing World in April 2014. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company, a subsidiary of Australian wagering firm Tabcorp, provides Australian, New Zealand, South African and South American racing content for simulcast horse-race wagering to multiple North America-facing ADW brands and race-tracks.
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