VRC St Leger contender Salto Angel
This year marks 60 years of racing conducted on ANZAC Day at Flemington Racecourse.
The feature race is the $200,000 Listed VRC St Leger (2800m), the time-honoured classic staying test that pre-dates the Melbourne Cup. 13 VRC St Leger winners including Phar Lap have gone on to win a Melbourne Cup. The race switched to ANZAC Day in 1993 and this year offers ballot exemption for the winner into next month’s Listed The Andrew Ramsden, which in turn offers ballot exemption into this year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup.
Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott have won this race for the past three years but do not have a runner this year. Highly fancied is Through Irish Eyes for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, runner-up in the Listed Galilee Series Final at his last start, and Salto Angel for Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien, runner-up in the Group 1 Kennedy Oaks in November.
The other feature race on the day is the $140,000 Listed ANZAC Day Stakes (1400m) which has been won in recent years by high-class gallopers Flying Award (2020), Chaillot (2019) and Merchant Navy (2017). This year’s edition will feature recent Caulfield winner Hunnam for Flemington trainers Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes, and Cheerful Legend, who finished fourth in the Group 2 MSS Security VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes beaten 1.8 lengths.
Also of key significance this year is the William Newton VC Handicap (2600m), which offers ballot exemption for the winner into next month’s Listed The Andrew Ramsden. Talented young stayer Persan is current TAB favourite for trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, fifth in last year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup. He will be joined by Mohican Heights (Chris Waller), who is looking to assemble a winning hat-trick after victories at Mornington and Caulfield. Amade (Phillip Stokes) is an interesting runner, having just his second start in Australia but previously winner of the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational when trained by G. Botti in France.
The Les Carlyon has attracted an interesting field including Vassilator, Rostropovich, and AAMI Victoria Derby winner Warning.