RACE OF THE DAY
It was fitting that the best betting race of the black type races run around Australia on Saturday, turned into the most gripping finale on the track.
Nonconformist, Hezashocka, Right You Are and Vow and Declare each had strong claims to favouritism, depending on how you wanted to assess the race and which had the stronger formlines. And all of them started around the $4-$5 mark.
Each had a positive and negative in their favour. Vow and Declare was coming off the strong Group 1 WFA run in the Tancred but had the most weight. Hezashocka had the Anamoe formline but was a question mark at the distance. Right You Are is a winning machine but had never raced beyond 2100m. Nonconformist was proven at the track and trip, but coming off the flattest run of the main four.
Blake Shinn on Hezashocka took an assertive position at the halfway mark of the race, deciding the tempo wasn’t suited to being at the tail and decided to whip around the field. This had the effect of creating a nice wave of horses for Right You Are to follow into the race, and also meant Jordan Childs on Nonconformist became cramped for room on the rails.
Shinn went for home on Hezashocka, almost left in front too early as the leader folded, and by that stage Right You Are was emerging as the main challenger. Vow and Declare was proving one-paced, while Nonconformist was back in the ruck and never going to threaten.
And while it wasn’t quite Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star, Hezashocka and Right You Are were eyeballing each other all the way down the short Mornington straight to provide the most nail-biting finish of the day.
Different angles looked to show different outcomes, and all three results (Right You Are win, Hezashocka win, and a dead heat) were still likely for a few minutes until the numbers went in the frame.
Ultimately, Right You Are won the race, and the ticket into the Caulfield Cup. He’s still quite lightly raced for a six-year-old, clearly still improving, and we know how good Maher & Eustace are with their stayers.
WIN OF THE DAY
There’s a special thrill when fast horses are allowed to be fast, and dominate a race from the front while defying all challengers. There were two handy black type affairs on Saturday, and both of them were won by a wire-to-wire runner.
Jigsaw was market-elect in the Hareeba Stakes, and while he did drift out to $2.80 at one point in betting, in the last few minutes he was crunched back into $2.45.
In a race that didn’t look to have a great deal of natural speed to pressure Jigsaw for the lead, it played out exactly that way, and he led the chasing pack a merry dance for one of the more comfortable two length wins you’ll ever see.
Jigsaw goes for a spell now, having won five of his last six races, with four of those wins at black type level. He’ll be set for some good races in the spring, and deservedly so. There’s every chance he will improve again as a five-year-old.
Malkovich has always been a speed machine, but had become an erratic conveyance over time, registering only one win in the last 22 months. Yes, he had run in some good races in that time, including finishing fourth in an Oakleigh Plate, but the decision was taken to geld him.
Malkovich showed his usual speed out of the gates, with Josh Parr spearing him to the front by two lengths. He didn’t dilly-dally either, on a day that was tough to lead, carving out impressive enough sectionals for those at the back to have their chance to run him down.
Like Jigsaw, Malkovich should now be hard to beat in anything he contests, and you know what you’re going to get from that duo.
RIDE OF THE DAY
Whether it is ride of the day or rider of the day, it’s hard to overlook Nash Rawiller for two terrific steers that he gave Hawaii Five Oh and Princess Grace in the Hawkesbury Guineas and Hawkesbury Crown respectively.
Some might say it’s easy to give a good ride when you have kind barriers, but the inside was well off by that stage of the day at Hawkesbury, so barrier 3 for Hawaii Five Oh and gate 1 for Princess Grace could have been more a curse than a blessing.
Rawiller was determined to not find the rail on Hawaii Five Oh, hunting up out of the gates to ensure he always had Hell I Am on his inside. He then let the pace unfold in front of him, letting his mount settle beautifully into the race.
He tracked the three-wide Kote around the turn, and ended up five and six horses off the fence upon straightening, ensuring he was the first horse onto the best ground. Hawaii Five Oh was then good enough to do the rest, and put a margin on his rivals.
Nash had little choice but to be on the rail on Princess Grace, given he had drawn the squishbox. He rode a patient race until the turn, and started creeping his way off the fence until the moment of truth arrived.
At the 200m, when the race was there to be won and he had a lapful of horse, half a run appeared between Expat and Barossa Rosa. Rawiller had to decide whether to stay or whether to go – he decided that it was his run, he made the opening wider by bustling through it, and the formerly USA trained mare did the rest.
Nash Rawiller has been in great form, and both of these winning rides were examples of it, each of them millimetre perfect.
Fire, from the Hawkes camp, is starting to become a very costly horse for those that are following him.
He jumped the $3.60 favourite in Race 5 at Hawkesbury on Saturday, and while finishing fourth beaten less than two lengths, he never remotely looked like winning.
Removing his previous start where he was clearly outgraded in Lightning Stakes, his four starts before that had seen him jump at $4.20, $4, $1.90 and $2.20, none of which resulted in victories.
Favourite backers also had their fingers singed in the last at Mornington. The heavily spruiked Maktoob, who was the shortest runner all day on that card at $2.10, was coming off two wins at his first two starts in Australia for Simon Zahra.
Blake Shinn had the ex-European positioned in the back half of the field, but was compelled to make a wide searching run on the tight Mornington track. He loomed into the race, and gave his supporters something to cheer for at the top of the straight, but their hopes quickly faded when he failed to let down.
Given Maktoob was tried up to 2400m earlier in his overseas career, and could be a horse of some promise over further, perhaps staying at 1600m third-up was not the recipe for success, and he could be looking for 2000m at least now.