Gytrash winning the 2019 A.R. Creswick Stakes (Image: Racing Photos)
Country racing participants, owners and members will be celebrated at Flemington Racecourse on Country Race Day this Saturday 19 June, with the day to be run behind closed doors in line with ongoing capacity limits.
The feature race is the Listed A.R. Creswick Stakes (1200m) for three-year-olds, which in the past three years has produced subsequent Group 1 winners Nature Strip and Gytrash.
This year the TAB favourite is last start Flemington winner Curran, purchased for just $600 by mother-daughter training duo Lyn Tolson and Leonie Proctor. Peter Moody’s Snickerdoodledandy is the main danger having also won her last start at Flemington against older mares under in form jockey Jamie Kah, while the market also fancies Pioneer River (Hayes & Dabernig) who has come second in his last three starts, all at Flemington, and the lightly raced Sir Davy (Maher & Eustace) who has two wins and two second placings from four career starts.
Flemington trainer Denis Pagan saddles up debutant Turn It Up Tommy in Race 1, the Rod Johnson Handicap (1420m), the same race he kicked off Johnny Get Angry’s career before winning the Victoria Derby. Favourite in this race is Forbidden City for Peter Moody and Jamie Kah, narrowly ahead of first start winner Secret Glamour for Ciaron Maher & David Eustace and John Allen.
Race 5, The David Bourke (1600m), is named after former VRC Chairman and long-time Pakenham Racing Club Secretary David Bourke. Its conditions have relaxed this year resulting in an intriguing field including last year’s hype horse Kinane, who has returned to the stable of part owner Mick Kent after a disappointing spring. The impressive mare Kurabui (Mick Price & Michael Kent Junior) is unbeaten from four career starts, justifying her short price, although this will be her toughest assignment to date. Degraves is an interesting runner for the Robert Hickmott stable; owned by Lloyd Williams, he was beaten less than two lengths by the subsequent Cox Plate runner up Armory in a Group 3 in his native Ireland and this will be his first run in Australia. The David Bourke is likely to be a stepping-stone to bigger spring targets for both Kinane and Kurabui.
Race 6, the Sir Henry Bolte Handicap (2000m), is Heat 6 of The Mahogany Challenge and has again attracted a full field of three-year-old stayers. TAB favourite is last start Flemington winner Namakwa for Ciaron Maher & David Eustace, just ahead of the runner up on that occasion, Reuber for Cindy Alderson. Interestingly, both these young stayers were sired by Dissident who has had a fairly slow start to his stud career so far.
Race 8, the Brian Beattie Handicap (1420m), is Heat 5 of the VRC-CRV Winter Championship Series and is named after the past CEO of the VRC. This year’s edition has attracted a full field including the in-form import Dice Roll, who has won his last two starts for Flemington trainer Nick Ryan and is the current TAB favourite. Rubisaki is second favourite for trainer Patrick Payne who has teamed up with his sister, Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne, for this race. Also fancied in the market is Yulong January (Ciaron Maher & David Eustace) who has won his last two starts at Flemington but will have to carry an extra 1.5kg from his last win.
The last race, the Jack Styring OAM Sprint (1100m), acknowledges VRC Life Member and famed country race caller Jack Styring. Jack holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records for calling 60 Gunbower Cups from 1952-2010 and is a respected member of the racing media. Topweight Red Can Man (David Brideoake) is favourite and resumes here with a strong first-up record of 6:3-1-1; this is his first start in Victoria having tackled some tough assignments in his hometown of Perth, including finishing runner-up in the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes. Muntaseera (Ciaron Maher & David Eustace) and Sartorial Splendor (John Sadler) are next best in the market.
Country Race Day Program
||Rod Johnson Handicap (1400m) Heat 5 Taj Rossi Series
||Adam Lindsay Gordon Handicap (2500m) Heat 5 Banjo Patterson Series
||Murray Cox Handicap (1000m)
||Bruce Gadsden Handicap (1400m) Heat 5 Leilani Series
||The David Bourke (1600m) Heat 6 VRC CRV Winter Championship
||Sir Henry Bolte Handicap (2000m) Heat 6 Mahogany Series
||A.R. Creswick Stakes (1200m) Heat 6 All Victorian Sprint Series & Heat 4
||Brian Beattie Handicap (1420m) Heat 5 VRC-CRV Winter Championship Series
||Jack Styring OAM Sprint (1100m) Heat 5 All Victorian Sprint Series