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Live coverage, Caulfield Guineas Day

Date

Edited by Will Brodie

The moment favourite punters felt their hearts drop: All Too Hard takes the lead in the Caulfield Guineas.

The moment favourite punters felt their hearts drop: All Too Hard takes the lead in the Caulfield Guineas. Photo: Pat Scala PDS

Track: dead (4). Weather: fine.

  • All Too Hard, half-brother of Black Caviar, upstaged Gai Waterhouse's boom colt, the previously unbeaten Pierro, to take out the group one Caulfield Guineas.
  • Ocean Park just beat off the challenges of Sincero and Alcopop to take out a weak Caulfield Stakes, but jockey Glen Boss is now convinced Ocean Park is a genuine Cox Plate contender.
  • Gerald Ryan trained an early double, with Snitzerland and Cavalry Rose winning races two and three for the Sydney-based former jockey.
  • European raider Shahwardi stormed home to win the Herbert Power Handicap. favourite, fellow import Gatewood, never had a chance after being hopelessly pocketed when about to make his run.
  • Classy sprinter Buffering sat second, then kicked away to prove his superiority, in the absence of Black Caviar, as Australia's pre-eminent short-course specialist, in the Schillaci Stakes.

Chief Racing writer Andrew Eddy reports on the Herbert Power Handicap:

The Herbert Power Stakes is easily won by Shahwardi, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy.

The Herbert Power Stakes is easily won by Shahwardi, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy. Photo: Pat Scala

Any suggestions the internationals were not the horses to beat in the major staying races this spring was put to bed when French horse Shahwardi, who had not won for more than three years, thrashed the local stayers and earned a spot in next Saturday's Caulfield Cup with a dominant win in the Herbert Power Stakes.

The seven-year-old, who is prepared by Americain's trainer Alain de Royer Dupre, was set to miss out on next Saturday's Caulfield Cup as he was well down the order or entry, but now has a ballot-free run into the race.

''He was really strong to the line and it was a good trial for the Melbourne Cup as well as the Caulfield Cup,'' jockey Kerrin McEvoy said after the race.

Jockey Dwayne Dunn celebrates after riding All To Hard to win the Caulfield Guineas.

Jockey Dwayne Dunn celebrates after riding All To Hard to win the Caulfield Guineas. Photo: Mal Fairclough

McEvoy said he enjoyed a trouble-free run in the race on the $15 chance but the same could not be said for fellow import Gatewood, who got caught up in traffic and did not see daylight until the last 100 metres.

Owner Lloyd Williams narrowly failed to qualify the runner-up Excluded who had to win to earn a run next week but the galloper will progress to Flemington where he will attempt to earn a Melbourne Cup spot. Yesterday's third horse Exceptionally is not entered for the Caulfield Cup but turned in a marvelllous Melbourne Cup trial with her fast-finishing third. She still has to earn her way into the Melbourne Cup and is likely to attempt that in the Geelong Cup later this month.

Michael Sharkie reports on the aftermath of the shock result in the Caulfield Guineas:

The Toorak Stakes won by Corey Brown on Solzhenitsyn from Spirit Song.

The Toorak Stakes won by Corey Brown on Solzhenitsyn from Spirit Song. Photo: Pat Scala PDS

Star colt Pierro's unbeaten run came to an end today when he was grabbed in the final strides of the Caulfield Guineas by Black Caviar's half-brother All Too Hard. After working hard early in the race Pierro was left vulnerable over the final 100m, despite having kicked clear off the home turn. All Too Hard, which had raced near the tail of the field for the majority of the 1600m race, gradually wore down the $1.20 favourite to score a valuable win for embattled owner Nathan Tinkler.

"He is a serious horse, he always has been and as I said this morning he was only getting beat two lengths by Pierro, it wasn't as if he was getting beaten 22 lengths," said winning trainer Wayne Hawkes.

"This is the race that makes stallions."

The Caulfield Stakes is won by Glen Boss on Ocean Park.

The Caulfield Stakes is won by Glen Boss on Ocean Park. Photo: Pat Scala PDS

Gai Waterhouse said that she "was not disappointed in the horse" following Pierro's defeat and confirmed the plan to push on towards the Cox Plate.

4.54pm

Herbert Power Handicap result 4, 9, 8, 3

The field heading to the finish of the Thoroughbred Club Stakes.

The field heading to the finish of the Thoroughbred Club Stakes. Photo: Mal Fairclough

1. 4 Shahwardi
2. 9 Excluded
3. 8 Exceptionally

8-SPORTINGBET HERBERT POWER STKS 2400m:
15.00 SHAHWARDI (Mr Anthony Bloom’s b g 7y Lando (GER) - Shamdara (IRE). Trainer: A De Royer-Dupre) 56 (K Mc Evoy) 1,
7.00 EXCLUDED 54 (Craig Williams) 2,
7.50 EXCEPTIONALLY 54 (D Yendall) 3.

Then followed: 12.00 Ironstein 56 (B Avdulla) 81.00 Silent Surround 54 (Timothy Bell) 15.00 Precedence 58 (S W Arnold) 4.00 fav Gatewood 56 (C W Brown) 51.00 I’m Jake 54 (B Melham) 14.00 Reuben Percival 54.5 (C Munce) 14.00 Dance With Her 55 (D Dunn) 12.00 Bianmick 55.5 (D Gauci) 101.00 Red Eye Special 54 (M J Walker) 9.00 Mr O’Ceirin 54 (G Boss) 151.00 Budai 54 (S R King) 31.00 Guns At Five 54 (L Nolen) 71.00 Auld Burns 54 (Nicholas Hall) last.
All started. Len, 1-1/2 len.
Time: 2:28.82. (Last 600m 36.82).

Buffering riden by Hugh Bowman justifies his short quote by winning the Schweppes Schillaci Stakes.

Buffering riden by Hugh Bowman justifies his short quote by winning the Schweppes Schillaci Stakes. Photo: Mal Fairclough

Punters had the right idea in this 2400 metres test. a crucial qualifier for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups - back the imported horse - but many of them had the wrong one. Shahwardi, which hadn't won a race for three years, franked the European form by storming to victory, and Cups contention, in the Herbert Power Handicap. It may be that favourite Gatewood is as good as predicted - he ran into dead-ends for the entirety of the final 800 metres, after looking perfectly placed, and about to burst into the race. He simply did not have a chance to show his wares, Corey Brown following a winning ride earlier in the day by getting completely snookererd in a muddling tempo.

Local hopes Excluded and Exceptionally ran on well, but Shahwardi was far more powerful at the end, and it would appear few other horses in that race are good enough to win either of the major Cups. Unless Gatewood gets out of his Houdini suit before next Saturday.

4.33pm

Race three is won by Nash Rawiller on Cavalry Rose beating Mareeza ridden by Luke Nolen.

Race three is won by Nash Rawiller on Cavalry Rose beating Mareeza ridden by Luke Nolen. Photo: Pat Scala PDS

The final feature race of the day, the group two Herbert Power Handicap, starting at 4.50pm, may be its most intriguing with staying contenders desperate for a win to get into the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. Overseas raiders Gatewood and Shahwardi complement a strong field of local middle-distance performers, with Gatewood and mare Exceptionally vying for favouritism at around $5.40

4.12pm

Caulfield Guineas result:

Race two is won by Corey Brown on Snitzerland.

Race two is won by Corey Brown on Snitzerland. Photo: Pat Scala PDS

1. 3 All Too Hard
2. 1 Pierro
3. 2 Epaulette

7-BECK CAULFIELD GUINEAS 1600m:
12.00 ALL TOO HARD (Patinack Farm Racing, Mgr: N L Tinkler’s b c 3y Casino Prince - Helsinge. Trainer: M, W & J Hawkes) 56.5 (D Dunn) 1,
1.22 fav PIERRO 56.5 (N Rawiller) 2,
12.00 EPAULETTE 56.5 (K Mc Evoy) 3. Then followed: 19.00 Awesome Bro 56.5 (Craig Williams) 151.00 Road Trippin 56.5 (B Melham) 8.00 Ashokan 56.5 (J B Mc Donald) 41.00 Let Go Lenni 56.5 (C Newitt) 101.00 Carringbush Jack 56.5 (J Noonan) last.
All started. 1/2 len, 1-3/4 len.
Time: 1:36.05. (Last 600m 36.44).

All Too Hard has upset Pierro to take out the group one Caulfield Guineas.

Gerald Ryan won with Snitzerland and Cavalry Rose.

Gerald Ryan won with Snitzerland and Cavalry Rose. Photo: Pat Scala PDS

Again, this classic has proved a "good horse's race", with the three best-performed colts fighting out the finish. However, All Too Hard proved superior to Pierro today, grinding home over the top of the favourite to win by nearly a length, after Pierro took a two-length lead at the top of the straight.

Pierro was hard-ridden to reach second early, after being caught four wide on jumping. Ashokan led, with Epaulette well-placed in fourth. By the corner, Pierro was hard-held and took over effortlessly, opening up what looked like a winning break. At first, Epaulette, from his perfect perch, looked best placed to challenge. but All Too Hard, who had been snookered close to last near the turn, found galloping room and remorselessly chased down the hot favourite.

All Too Hard's Jockey Dwayne Dunn said that he had asked trainer John and Wayne Hawkes if his charge would need to bring his 'A-plus" game, and they said no - just the 'A-game' would be necessary.

Nicholas Hall riding Instinction to win the BMW Weekend Hussler Stakes.

Nicholas Hall riding Instinction to win the BMW Weekend Hussler Stakes. Photo: Mal Fairclough

Wayne Hawkes tipped his horse to the world this morning, saying he had only been getting beaten by two lengths, after missing the start, at his past three starts, which included the Geroge Main Stakes against open-class gallopers. After the win, he said "I love going in as the underdog!" He praised the effort of his valuable colt, who was in a "bugger of a spot" during the race, caught behind runners before the home turn.

The spectre of Black Caviar loomed as large after the race as before, with Channel Nine's Anthony Mithen consoling Pierro's trainer Gai waterhouse by saying: "They all get beaten... except Black Caviar."

All Too Hard is Black Caviar's half-brother.

Pierro winning the Inglis Sires Produce Stakes at Randwick in April.

Pierro winning the Inglis Sires Produce Stakes at Randwick in April. Photo: Dallas Kilponen DAK

Waterhouse, the focus of so much expectation and attention today, was gracious in defeat, saying the better horse on the day won. She didn't hesitate to push on to the Cox Plate with her talented colt, saying his performance was "absolutely courageous".

Race 7: 3 1 2.
Win $9.80 place $2.00
$1.04
$1.80.
Q: $3.50.
E: $17.80.
Duets: 3-1: $2.00, 3-2: $3.40, 1-2: $1.50.
T: $47.20.
D: $56.40.
First 4: 3-1-2-7: $121.80.
Sub: NSR.
All Started.

4.09pm

Spring begins.

Spring begins.

Big money keeps coming for the unbeaten favourites Pierro. There's a sense of anticipation - it's as if the racing industry wants another superstar to create headlines.

4.07pm

Victorian cricketer Cameron White is one of the owners of Let Go Lenni, currently a $22 chance after he ran second to Epaulette in the Guineas Prelude last start. The Vics knocked over Queensland a day early yesterday, by ten wickets, to enable White to get to the track.

All To Hard, ridden by Dwayne Dunn, wearing the yellow cap, wins the Caulfield Guineas. Click for more photos

The Caulfield Guineas

On Caulfield Guineas Day, Race 7, The Caulfield Guineas, was won by Dwayne Dunn on All Too Hard, beating the favourite, Pierro, ridden by Nash Rawiller. Photo: Mal Fairclough

4.06pm 

Media-friendly Gai Waterhouse, who should get some sort of retainer from the industry for her tireless, always cheerful promotion of the game, says Pierro is "something special" and she's "so glad that the public and the viewers can see him."

She said the crowds were ten deep to catch a glimpse of the Sydney superstar in his stalls.

4.05pm

Unbeaten in Melbourne, Black Caviar's half-brother All Too Hard was tipped strongly by co-trainer Wayne Hawkes this morning.

4.00pm

Ten minutes before the main feature, and sullen Melbourne weather drapes misty cloud and drizzle over the festive scene at Caulfield, a somewhat unexpected outcome after a sunny day. There won't be heavy rain, but some of the more lightly clad women will once again be wondering why this carnival isn't held in summer.

3.55pm

Main feature of the day's racing the group one Caulfield Guineas, starts at 4.10pm.
The hype is building for unbeaten Sydney colt Pierro, who Richard Callander says should be on the front page of the newspaper (with Black Caviar spelling). So often these days, even the most excited commentator quailifies his enthusiasm by referencing the mighty mare.
Pierro is $1.30 on the tote, and $1.20 fixed odds. He avoids the obstacle stablemate More Joyous had to counter in the previous race, with this classic at level weights. More Joyous came unstuck trying to carry eight kilos more than the eventual winner Solzhenistyn in the Toorak Handicap. In theory, the best, most seasoned three-year-old should win this one million dollar race, but with young horses, sometimes we are yet to see their best form. It is hard to imagine Pierro running any better than he has in amassing eight brilliant victories, including the two-year-old autumn triple crown. He might only need to reach his previous level to win easily, wheras most of his competitiors have to find something they have not yet displayed.

Michael Sharkie reports on the 2012 Toorak Handicap.

Queensland trainer Rob Heathcote has enjoyed a few winning doubles in Melbourne in recent seasons but none as important as the one he landed at Caulfield today with Solzenhitsyn taking the group one Toorak Handicap little more than an hour after Buffering claimed the group two Schillaci Stakes.

"What a thrill, a group two and now a group one number two, it's just awesome", said Heathcote.

With Gai Waterhouse's champion mare More Joyous asked to work hard early in the race under top weight of 60kg's, jockey Corey Brown elected to sit back and stalk the leading division on Solzenhitsyn before peeling wide on the turn to sprint home. The six year old proved too strong over the final 200m for brave mare Spirit Song to record his eleventh win from 24 starts and claim his first group one race to break a long run of outs at the elite level for Brown.

"It's been a little while," Brown said.

"I got all the breaks, had no weight on my back and it was good to be back in the winners circle."

3.40pm

Solzhenitsyn's jockey Corey Brown told Channel Nine after the race that he felt the eight kilo pull he had on More Joyous would prove telling. After a lean couple of season by his standards, he indicated this win could herald his return to the spring spotlight.

Race six result: 7, 8, 4, 2
1. 7 Solzhenitsyn
2. 8 Spirit Song
3. 4 Yosei

More Joyous was caught wide early, and had to work hard to get to second outside leader Steps In Time. Glass Harmonium missed the start and also pushed on, and there was a pack of five keen to stay close to the lead. Solzhenitsyn lurked a couple of lengths nehind this pack, seemingly perfectly poised. When the pace slackened before the turn, he was pushed along. For a moment at the top of the straight, More Joyous looked the winner, but she died on her run under the big weight, and Spirit Song took over. Solzhenitsyn gradually eroded the mare's lead, catching her just before the line. Backmarker Yosei stuck on well for another group one third placing. 

That was a torrid run for More Joyous, and she battled on bravely, but was beaten by nearly three lengths. The Cox Plate picture is still not clear - we now wait to see what three-year-old superstar Pierro can produce in the next race, the Caulfield Guineas. Will he stamp himself as a short-priced Plate favourite with a dominant display?

3.27pm

OK, hardcore racing time now. The real group one action is about to commence, with the Toorak Handicap about to jump, with super-mare More Joyous attempting to carry 60 kilos to prove she is a worthy Cox Plate contender. Winner of her past five starts, she is tightening considerably on the tote, now into $1.60. Not suprisingly, ever-optimistic trainer Gai Waterhouse is bullish about her chances.

Michael Sharkie report on the group one Caulfield Stakes:

Ocean Park confirmed his reputation as the most significant challenger to three-year-old Pierro in the Tatts Cox Plate with his third group one win this preparation in the Caulfield Stakes, a win made even more special by falling on the horse's birthday.

"It's his birthday today, you can't beat a group one win on your birthday, can you?" said trainer Gary Hennessy.

The New Zealand-bred and trained four-year-old,  $1.40 favourite, was forced to work for the victory when challenged off the home turn by Sincero and then the late closing Alcopop. Punters held their breath for a stride as that duo pushed for victory, but once asked for a winning effort by jockey Glen Boss Ocean Park responded well for a comfortable 3/4 length win.

"That's the race he needed, he's actually put on weight since his last run so he needed that to clean him out," Boss said.

"I wouldn't swap him for anything else (in the Cox Plate)."

3.16pm

For once the gratuituous self-promotion of free-to-air networks during their racing coverage seems appropriate. Underbelly starlet Gracie Gilbert was interviewed, and the show she is spruiking is about Squizzy Taylor, who surely would have known his way around the Heath. Racing and colourful identities enjoy an unbroken association that expensive suits and pretty women cannot hide.

That noted, Channel Nine's coverage does have some bells and whistles that 'straight' punting networks lack, like background stories on jockeys, and a sense of the fashion and frivolity on course. Most sportsheads bemoan the fripperies, but there's choice these days, you can watch dividends and mounting yard parades if you wish, entire channels cater for such needs. Sometimes the more populous approach actually provides a better picture of the dimnensions of the raceday. Such an afternoon is made up of hardcore punters mixing cheek by jowl with fashionistas and unglamorous battlers. The blending of different social strata make the earlier meetings of the carnival fascinating for people-watchers.

3.12pm

Glenn Boss is convinced Ocean Park is a Cox Plate winning chance.

"I think he’s the right horse, I really do," Boss said after his charge's win. He said Ocean Park’s Caulfield Stakes hit-out would provide the perfect lead-in.

"That’s a race he really needed," he said.

"He’s actually put on weight since that last run (in the Underwood Stakes) so today’s run was one he really needed to clean him right out.

"I’m glad he had a contest today because he needed it but the best part about it was his attitude.

"He put himself in a very good spot very easily and in the run I couldn’t believe how relaxed he became."

Michael Rodd said perhaps Sincereo would benefit from blinkers after he loomed up and looked as if he would challenge the winner.

"I got beaten fair and square by the winner but I still think my bloke’s got some improvement," Rodd said.

"I think we need to go for a set of shades to sharpen him up a bit. He gets lackadaisical when the sprint goes on."

In contrast Boss said Ocean Park responded to his urgings without fuss.

"For a horse who’s had not a lot of racing he’s got a very, very good brain in the race," he said.

"He does exactly what you want and as soon as I asked him to come on by about the 600 (metres) he got interested in the race.

"When he got clear he switched off, but that’s probably because he just needed the run."

Dominic Tourneur said comeback galloper Alcopop still had improvement and was unlucky not to have finished closer.

"I’m not convinced he was 100 per cent out there today," Tourneur said.

"Having to come off Sincero at the top of the straight probably cost us a long neck. If that hadn’t have been the case it may have been interesting."

3.08pm

Sydney pundit Richard Callander also feels the winner of the Cox Plate was not racing in the group one Caulfield Stakes, just run and won by Ocean Park. So often in recent years that race has attracted a small field, and this edition was perhaps the weakest of a generation. But then, we might be wrong and Ocean Park, now winner of his past two starts, could blow them away. the chance to be made a fool of springs eternal in racing.

3.05pm

Which betting agency are you sponsored by? Never let it be said that competition is not alive and well in Australian marketplaces, for is seems at this time of year, every commentator and every racing segment is paid for by a bookmaker. The line between sports report and ad is well and truly blurred. I suppose it is the media and commercial world's version of post-modernism.

Results race five Caulfield Stakes: 6, 4, 2
1. 6 Ocean Park
2. 4 Alcopop
3. 2 Sincero

5-CATHAY PACIFIC CAULFIELD STKS 2000m:
1.50 fav OCEAN PARK (A Wong, S Yan & G Hennessy’s b h 4y Thorn Park - Sayyida (NZ). Trainer: G T Hennessy) 58 (G Boss) 1,
20.00 ALCOPOP 59 (D Tourneur) 2,
5.00 SINCERO 59 (M Rodd) 3. Then followed: 11.00 Midas Touch 59 (J Bowman) 18.00 Sabrage 58 (K Mc Evoy) 21.00 Sanagas 59 (B Rawiller) last.
Scr: Manighar, Vatuvei.
3/4 len, nse.
Time: 2:04.70. (Last 600m 34.75).

Ocean Park sat one out and one back in the small field, with Midas Touch leading and no change in the running order until the turn. Despite a moderate pace, the three placegetters were able to come from behind and put a space between themselves and the rest of the field. Sincero loomed up to Ocean Park 200 metres out, but died on his run, and Alcopop ran home better to take second in a photo. The margin of about three quarters of a length was not convincing, and neither was the performance of the beaten brigade. A difficult race to assess in relation to the Cox Plate. Possibly the best trial was that of eight-year-old stayer Alcopop for the Caulfield Cup.

Michael Sharkie reports on the first feature race of the day, the Schillachi Stakes.

Star sprinter Buffering continued to enjoy a spring carnival free of Black Caviar and Hay List when he took out the group two Schillaci Stakes, his second group two win in Melbourne this spring.

The race had been used as a winning starting point for Black Caviar's last two spring campaigns, but with the champion mare on the sidelines, Quenslander Buffering, a horse long considered to be the third best sprinter in Australia, took the spoils.

"Black Caviar and Hay List are not here but my little bulldog has lived in their shadow for a long time. He goes to the Manikato Stakes now and he really deserves a group one win," said trainer Rob Heathcote.

Buffering was beaten for speed away from the barriers and eventually led by three-year-old filly Malasun, but once around the home bend the five-year-old quickly clicked into top gear and raced away for an easy two-length win with Golden Archer and Stirling Grove, to put an end to any rumours that the horse had not recovered from a recent vaccination ahead of a possible trip to Hong Kong in December.

"There were 180,000 reasons why I entered that race and he didn't let us down," said Heathcote.

2.35pm

Caulfield Guineas update
Pierro 2.10
All Too Hard 5.30
Awesome Bro 6.20

Pierro's real finishing quote should be closer to the $1.20 being offered at fixed odds. Interesting that he has drifted on the tote. Epaulette, at 8.80 and $9.00 on fixed odds, was rated clear second pick by most judges during the week, and his form includes wins over the likes of Awesome Bro. But these three-year-olds are just starting their racing journeys, and the money is there to say some of the lesser performed types have greater improvement in them.

2.30pm

Toorak Handicap update:
More Joyous 2.60
Solzhenitsyin 5.60
Yosei 7.00

Yosei is $13.00 in the TAB Sportsbet fixed odds market. Punters must be remembering her fine third, five starts back, in the group one Doncaster Handicap, when she finished less than a length behind More Joyous, and carried two more kilos by comparison.

2.18pm:

Race four results: 1, 5, 6, 4
1. 1 Buffering
2. 5 Golden Archer
3. 6 Stirling Grove

4-SCHWEPPES SCHILLACI STAKES 1000m:
2.60 fav BUFFERING (Mrs V Heathcote, S Krslovic, C Moore, R Ciobo, S Chipperfield, C Lord, Crafty Racing Synd, Aspariamo Racing Synd & B Harry’s b g 5y Mossman - Action Annie. Trainer: R L Heathcote) 58.5 (J Bowman) 1,
6.00 GOLDEN ARCHER 58.5 (L Nolen) 2,
26.00 STIRLING GROVE 58.5 (Craig Williams) 3.

Then followed: 6.00 Pampelonne 58.5 (C W Brown) 9.00 Temple Of Boom 58.5 (J B Mc Donald) 26.00 Didntcostalot 58.5 (P Robl) 16.00 Lone Rock 56.5 (M Zahra) 14.00 Snitzem 58.5 (G Boss) 26.00 Malasun 51 (C Newitt) 17.00 First Command 58.5 (S W Arnold) last.
All started.
1-3/4 len, sht 1/2 hd.
Time: 0:56.95. (Last 600m 33.95).

The Schillaci Stakes  favourite Buffering was headed by speedy youngster Malasun, but sat happily in second, stalking the leader. When Malasun died on its run 150 metres out, Buffering kicked two lengths clear, and he held a margin of a langth and a half to the line. The placegetters both ran on soundly in a quicly run event, which broke 57 seconds for the 1000 metres.

Trainer Ron Heathcote, long in the shadow of Black Caviar, acclaimed his five-year-old gelding as the "number one sprinter in the land... until she comes back." Buffering will chase a well-deserved group one success in the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley at his next start. 

2.10pm

Why don't they tell us this before they jump.... asks Michael Lynch.

Sydney-based trainer Gerald Ryan, who sent out Snitzerland to win race two as an odds-on pop, followed up 40 minutes later when another three-year-old filly from his yard, Cavalry Rose, led pretty much all of the way under Nash Rawiller to score at the tasty odds of $8.

"This filly is flying, if I wasn't off the punt I would have unloaded on her," the former jockey said.

Cavalry Rose, a daughter of Charge Forward, hadn't won for a while and she had finished out of a place in her two previous runs in Sydney since resuming, including a display Ryan dubbed "awful" in the Silver Shadow Stakes.

However he gave her 10 days of light work and her gallops improved, so much so that, as he subsequently made clear, he came into this contest with plenty of confidence.

It could be the first winner of what should be a great day for Rawiller, as he is due to partner the great mare More Joyous later in the afternoon and then the champion three-year-old Pierro in the Caulfield Guineas.

Michael Lynch sets the scene from Caulfield as the carnival hits top gear:

It really feels like the Spring Carnival is up and running here at Caulfield. The sun is shining, and although it is hardly sweltering, the crowds are here in good numbers as the first day of a month's feast of top-class racing gets underway.

First blood went to the home side when Caulfield trainer Mick Price sent out the first winner of the day, the well backed grey Instinction, who firmed from $13 to $9.50 before getting home by a length and a half in the hands of Nick Hall in the 1400 metre Weekend Hussler Stakes.

The race was named after a former Caulfield hero who carried all before him in the 2007-08 season, including the Caulfield Guineas, so it was appropriate that one of the first offering his hand in congratulations to Price was Caulfield veteran Ross McDonald, who sent out the Hussler to cut a swathe through the spring five years ago.

The event was run at a breakneck pace led by the confirmed front runner Dusty Star, under Glen Boss, and, as Price subsequently observed, it was an enormously gutsy run by the $13 shot to fight back to reclaim second place having been headed earlier in the straight. Third home was another Caulfield-trained contender, Veewap.

Afterwards Price revealed that he had tried the winner over jumps to freshen him up and rekindle his interest during the week, but the colt had refused to get off the ground.

"We did go to school him on Wednesday but that was a disaster. We persevered for 20 minutes, had a good rider on him, but it was a case of horse wins, trainer loses. God I was mad, I could have killed him. but we gave him the benefit of the doubt.

"I think he's been genuine enough. If he can get 1600 metres, which he should, he could win a good race."

Price came close to making it two on the spin 40 minutes later when his lightly-raced colt Lankan Rupee tried to make all in the Blue Sapphire Stakes, a hot three-year-old contest over 1200 metres, but he was run down by the game and gutsy Sydney-trained filly Snitzerland who justified the short odds laid about her.

However, 100 metres out those who had taken the $1.95 might have been sweating as she was being made to work hard to get her head in front.

There were two other impressive performances in this race, particularly the runner up Fire Thunderbolt, who was making his seasonal reappearance. The Adelaide trained grey lost a shoe in transit, which can't have made things easy for him. And none finished faster than the Brisbane raider Sizzling, who rattled home for fourth under Chris Munce.

So with one winner backed in from double figures odds in the first and the second getting up as an odds-on favourite, things were going for the punters in the early exchanges.

1.56pm:

3-THOROUGHBRED CLUB STAKES 1200m:
8.00 CAVALRY ROSE (Triple Crown Synd Cavalry Rose, F Ippolito, J Deacon, G Dickenson, B Rippingale, Mrs J Johnson, T Kelly, V Chau, Ms C Surtees & M Panton’s b f 3y Charge Forward - Alberton Rose (NZ). Trainer: G A Ryan) 56 (N Rawiller) 1,
16.00 MAREEZA 55 (L Nolen) 2,
3.80 eq fav SATURN ROCK 55 (G Boss) 3. Then followed: 5.00 Elite Elle 56 (Craig Williams) 3.80 eq fav Hoss Amor 56 (J B Mc Donald) 41.00 Snipzu 56 (C Munce) 21.00 Zoria 55 (M Rodd) 31.00 Omniscient 55 (K Mc Evoy) 31.00 Clinking 55.5 (M Zahra) 71.00 Ciao 55 (P Robl) 18.00 Roll The Bones 55 (J Bowman) 18.00 Formidable 55.5 (D Dunn) last.
Scr: Armed For Action, Mrs Gray, Sheza Single Girl.
Sht 1/2 hd, 1-1/4 len.
Time: 1:10.03. (Last 600m 34.99).

Race three results: 3, 11, 8, 5.
Win $7.90 place $2.40
$4.40
$1.50.
Q: $73.80.
E: $131.30.
Duets: 3-11: $18.40, 3-8: $5.40, 11-8: $12.20.
T: $413.80.
D: $16.60.
First 4: 3-11-8-5: $1,414.40.
Sub: 5.
Scr: 4,12,15.

1.34pm:

Official results, race two
2-CATANACH’S BLUE SAPPHIRE 1200m:
1.95 fav SNITZERLAND (Encompass Bloodstock Synd (Mgr: S B McCann) & Werrett Bloodstock Pty Ltd Synd, Mgr: N R J Werrett’s b f 3y Snitzel - Monte Rosa. Trainer: G A Ryan) 55 (C W Brown),
18.00 FIRE THUNDERBOLT 57 (Craig Williams) 2,
5.00 LANKAN RUPEE 57 (C Newitt) 3.

Then followed: 5.00 Sizzling 57 (C Munce) 11.00 Generalife 57 (K Mc Evoy) 81.00 Eximius 57 (G Boss) 41.00 Boban 57 (S W Arnold) 151.00 Maury 57 (M Zahra) 201.00 Lashed Out 57 (M J Walker) last. Scr: Gold Rory. 1/2 nk, 1/2 hd.
Time: 1:10.09. (Last 600m 34.74).

1.10pm

Race 2 results: 10, 3, 5, 1
1. 10 Snitzerland 2.00
2. 3 Fire Thunderbolt
3. 5 Lankan Rupee
4. 1 Sizzling

The most recent addition to this meeting proved a real winner, with the 1200 metre scamper a keenly contested scrap all the way down the straight. Snitzerland looked done when headed 300 metres out, but fought back to edge ahead in the final 80 metres, whilst all the placegetters showed their quality. It is highly likely they will all feature again this spring.

Snitzerland's trainer Gerald Ryan said "she really rallied" when challenged, and his filly has shown "really different qualities at each run in this preparation. She is now headed to the Coolmore Stud Stakes over 1200 metres at Flemington on Derby Day in three weeks.

12.50pm

Official results, race 1
1-BMW WEEKEND HUSSLER STAKES 1400m:

9.50 INSTINCTION (P Katelanis, T Collingwood, L Kanellos, G Flynn, H Lang, A Kelly, J Sandilands, C Atkins, M Kennett & G Blythman’s gr h 4y Exceed And Excel - De Lago Mist. Trainer: M G Price) 54 (Nicholas Hall) 1, 13.00 DUSTY STAR 54.5 (G Boss) 2,
7.50 VEEWAP 55.5 (M Zahra) 3.

Then followed: 13.00 Sea Lord 54 (C W Brown) 12.00 Mr Make Believe 55 (L Nolen) 16.00 Whateverwhenever 54 (C Munce) 17.00 Utah Saints 56 (N Rawiller) 7.00 Mahisara 54 (B Avdulla) 21.00 Spacecraft 54 (M J Walker) 26.00 Parthian 58 (K Mc Evoy) 4.60 fav Smokin’ Joey 58 (C Newitt) 9.50 Speediness 56.5 (Craig Williams) 201.00 Verification 54 (D W Stackhouse) last.
All started.
1-1/2 len, hd.
Time: 1:23.00. (Last 600m 35.77).

12.35pm:

Race 1 results: 11,7,5,8
1. 11 Instinction 2. 7 Dusty Star 3. 5 Veewap
A hot pace was set, enabling Instinction to hook out six wide at the top of the straight from a position just behind the leaders, His strong sprint gained him victory from the game Dusty Star, one of the leaders who fought on best, and the fast-finishing Veewap. Veewap was one of several runners who missed the start - favoured types Smokin' Joey and Speediness could not make up any ground, but Veewap kept coming to just miss second in a photo.

12.30pm:

Most spruiked: All the talk this morning was that punters would come for imported stayer Gatewood, (Race 8, no.2), but he's only third favourite in current markets. His form around an Arc de Triomphe plcegetter is compelling and many locals believe anything with a passport has a better chance of winning a staying race than a locally bred or trained conveyance.

Best roughie:On current form, Midas Touch (race 5, no. 3) should be bigger odds, but many pundits felt he was a chance to upset favourite Ocean park in the small field of the Caulfield Stakes. Midas Touch has some good form in races of this kind in the past and may get to dictate terms in front. There remain some punters unconvinced that Ocean Park will run out 2000 metres.

12.10pm:

Favourites for the main races:
Race 4 Schillachi Stakes: 1 Buffering 2.60, 5 Golden Archer 5.60, 2 Temple of Boom 7.50
Race 5 Caulfield Stakes: 6 Ocean Park 1.70, 2 Sincero 4.30, 3 Midas Touch 8.70
Race 6 Toorak Handicap: 1 More Joyous 2.80, 7 Solzhenitsyn 5.90, 4 Yosei 6.90
Race 7 Caulfield Guineas: 1 Pierro 2.00, 3 All Too Hard 5.90, 7 Awesome Bro 6.40
Race 8 Herbert Power Handicap: 8 Exceptionally 5.40, 5 Bianmick 6.90, 2 Gatewood 7.70
Race 9 Sportingbet Sprint Series Final: 11 Sheila's Star 6.00, 14 Serene Star 8.50, 3 Detours 8.70

11.55am

Scratchings: Race 2: #8; Race 3: 4, 12, 15; Race 5: 1, 8; Race 9: 9, 18.

Weather: Isolated showers forecast, with a top of 16 and gusty winds. At the moment it appears there will be little to no rainfall, and fine conditions should prevail for most of the afternoon.

The quote: "If he brings his A-game, he will win. If he doesn't, Pierro will win." - Wayne Hawkes, co-trainer of Caulfield Guineas hopeful All Too Hard, beaten at his past three starts, tells Radio Sports National this morning of his confidence in the prospects of the half-brother to Black Caviar. His somewhat more taciturn father John, yesterday said All Too Hard had to bring his A-Game "... and we have to hope that is good enough."

The spring carnival hits top gear with one of Melbourne's best racedays, which will decide if Sydney trainer Gai Waterhouse will set the pace for this year's major races in Melbourne. Gai's charges Pierro and More Joyous are firm favourites for the day's two biggest group one events, the Caulfield Guineas and the Toorak Handicap,

Should both win, Waterhouse could have the top two fancies for the weight-for-age championship of Australasia, the Cox Plate. Outside those two intriguing races quality contests abound, with Cup hopefuls attempting to qualify with a win in one of the strongest recent editions off the Herbert Power Handicap, and Cox Plate candidate Ocean Park aiming to shore up his campaign in the oftenn tricky Caulfield Stakes.

 - with AAP

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