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Trainer Darren Weir led the charge during the 2016 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival preparing three Group 1 winners across the 21 G1 races. Starting with the first G1 race of the 2016/17 season, the Memsie Stakes with the cult hero Black Heart Bart. Weir’s other winner during the Melbourne carnival was Palentino in the Makybe Diva Stakes. Black Heart Bart made it two G1’s for the Carnival when he was also successful in the Underwood Stakes .
Chris Waller secured two Group 1 races, thanks to his wonder mare Winx. The superstar mare annexed the Caulfield Stakes and then made it back-to-back wins in the weight for age championship of the Cox Plate.
Ciaron Maher was the only other trainer to record multiple success in the 21 G1 races spanning from the Memsie Stakes to the Mackinnon Stakes.
The first of the two wins came in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes with Bon Aurum. The second win for Maher was courtesy of the 4YO mare Jameka, who recorded a dominant victory in the Caulfield Cup giving the mare her second win at the elite level to add to her VRC Oaks triumph.
Other trainers to taste G1 glory across the carnival included John O’Shea at what would become his last Spring Carnival as the head trainer for Godolphin, Mick Price, Kris Lees, Team Hawkes, Gary Portelli and Robert Hickmott.
Courtesy of his relationship with Chris Waller and Winx, Hugh Bowman was the leading hoop for the Melbourne Spring Carnival. Bowman had dual success with the wonder mare and also won races aboard the Mick Price trained Flying Artie and the Kris Lees trained Le Romain.
Kerrin McEvoy tasted triple success at the elite level, with wins aboard three different horses for three different trainers. McEvoy saluted with Bon Aurum for Ciaron Maher in the Rupert Clarke and aboard Global Glamour in the Thousand Guineas for the newly formed training combination of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, giving the Sydney based partnership their first G1 success since combining.
Without doubt the highlight for McEvoy came with the win of Almandin in the Melbourne Cup for owner Lloyd Williams and trainer Robert Hickmott. The win provided McEvoy with his 2nd Cup, adding to the trophy he won in the 2000 edition aboard Brew.
Ben Melham secured two G1 wins for the carnival, both coming in races held at 1200m. Melham landed the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley for trainer Gary Portelli aboard evergreen sprinter Rebel Dane. Melham then added a win down the famous Flemington “Straight Six” with the Peter Gelagotis trained Malaguerra.
The only other jockeys that had multiple success during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival were Brad Rawiller and Dwayne Dunn. Whilst other jockeys to taste success at the elite level included, Nicholas Hall, Dean Yendall, Craig Newitt and arguably the ride of the carnival from Brenton Avdulla to secure the VRC Oaks with a bold front-running display with Lasqueti Spirit.
Just two horses in the 2016 Carnival were able to secure multiple wins at G1 level. Black Heart Bart won the first race of the season in the Memsie Stakes with his other G1 success coming in the Underwood Stakes.
Winx was the other dual winner, with the Waller trained champion securing a three horse Caulfield Stakes and rounding out her campaign with her second successive Cox Plate.
There were no internationally trained G1 winners during the 2016 Carnival, however imports trained locally to taste G1 glory were Hartnell for John O’Shea in the Turnbull Stakes and Almandin for Robert Hickmott in the Melbourne Cup.
4 Year Old’s were able to secure five wins throughout the 2016 Carnival. The five came via five different horses with the list being Bon Aurum, He’s Our Rokkii, Jameka, Le Romain and Palentino
The ‘elder statesman’ of the equine world secured 2 events with the 7YO’s Almandin and Rebel Dane being successful in the Melbourne Cup and Manikato Stakes respectively.
Apart from the races restricted to fillies and mares, Winx win in the Cox Plate and the win of Jameka in the Caulfield Cup were the only wins by the fairer sex in the open events.
There were 7 favourites secure victory across the G1 races of the Melbourne Spring from the 21 contested. The shortest price favourite to win was Winx in winning the three-horse Caulfield Stakes where she defeated Black Heart Bart and He Or She. The mighty mare started at $1.24 with UBET fixed odds.
There were 5 runners to start at odds-on quotes across the Spring G1 events with 3 of those getting the job done and the other 2 falling short of the task. Winx started at $1.24 and at $1.80 in both of her victories, while Hartnell jumped at $1.90 when taking out the Turnbull Stakes.
The longest priced winner for the Carnival was the VRC Oaks winner Lasqueti Spirit, paying $151 with UBET fixed price and $138 on the UBET tote. Rebel Dane jumped at $71 when landing the Manikato Stakes under lights on the Friday night before the Cox Plate.
Of the 21 G1 winners across the carnival, the average starting price of the winners was $17.07. Taking out the odds-on winners and the wins of Lasqueti Spirit and Rebel Dane, the average starting price of the winners comes down to $11.91. Meanwhile the average starting price of the favourites across all 21 events was $3.14.
The 2017 Melbourne Spring Carnival as usual will culminate with the Cup week Carnival. The dates of this are:
• Derby Day - Saturday November 4 • Cup Day – Tuesday November 7 • Oaks Day – Thursday November 9 • Stakes Day – Saturday November 11
The carnival begins with the Memsie Stakes which is down for decision on Saturday September 2. Other key dates are October 14- Caulfield Guineas Day, October 21- Caulfield Cup and October 28 – Cox Plate.
The Melbourne Cup will once again attract plenty of attention from the Internationals. Heading the charge is the early UBET favourite Red Cardinal. Trained by Andreas Wohler, the 2014 Melbourne Cup winning trainer, Red Cardinal has winning form at 3200m in Germany and also was successful in the Belmont Gold Cup in the US in June.
Charlie Appleby scored successive wins with Francis Of Assisi in the Bendigo Cup and the G3 Queen Elizabeth at Flemington in 2016, with a return trip on the cards. The Danehill Dancer gelding has not started since his win at Flemington.
Of the locally prepared runners, the 2016 winner Almandin will look to defend his Melbourne Cup crown. The Darren Weir trained Big Duke looks to be a stayer with some promise following three successive wins in the Autumn followed by a 3rd in the Sydney Cup.
Other horses that have the scope to be players across the 2017 Spring include the Kiwi Gingernuts who stormed onto the scene in the Autumn, yet was unable to land the AJC Derby when defeated by Jon Snow. Another Kiwi that could shape as a force in the staying races is the G1 JJ Atkins winner of 2016 Sacred Elixir, who will return as a 4YO in the Spring of 2017.
Chris Waller has been such a dominant player in recent years and the master conditioner will be looking to land a 3rd consecutive Cox Plate with the 6YO mare Winx. He will have another handy mare on the rise in the shape of Egg Tart, the dual Oaks winning 3YO that looks primed for a big Spring.
Then there are always the horses that arrive as if from nowhere to stamp themselves as potential stars. Why not back your judgment and find a long range winner through UBET’s early markets.