The first Group 1 of the new season in Melbourne offers more questions than answers with different formlines, and competitors with different distance objectives that lie ahead in coming months. Memsie markets suggest a one-horse race with Vega Magic at $2.70, however there are a host of chances – subject to fitness levels surrounding some horses as they work towards the deeper end of respective Sydney and Melbourne Spring Carnivals. Happy Clapper, who is starting to get mentioned as a potential The Everest contender, is first-up over the 1400m at Caulfield, but after winning his seasonal debut last year in the 1400m Tramway (again dropping back from the 2000m of the Gr1 Queen Elizabeth) he is clearly a serious threat here. The Lawrence Stakes form brings Showtime, Kings Will Dream and Jungle Edge into calculations; and then there is the gun duo Grunt and Kementari who, on their best form, could blouse the lot of them.
At Caulfield racecourse in Melbourne, French 2000 Guineas & French Derby-winning shuttler Lope De Vega (Shamardal-Lady Vettori, by Vettori) added a Group race success when 5YO Australian-bred gelding Vega Magic (Lope de Vega-Admirable, by Magic Albert) bounced back to his brilliant best with an emphatic first-up win in the $150,000 Gr3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) for 3YO+, defeating Voodoo Lad & Jungle Edge. Co-trainer David Hayes is confident that Vega Magic has now done enough to convince one of the remaining Everest slot-holders to choose to flashy chestnut for the $13 million The Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on 13 October. "It's fantastic to see him back to his best," Hayes told racing.com. "He's a blockbuster sprinter on his day and hopefully that was impressive enough to gain a slot in The Everest. He made some very good and in form horses look ordinary today…he played with them really." Vega Magic, who hails from the family of Golden Slipper winner Century Miss, advanced his record to 13 wins (including the Gr1 NZB Memsie Stakes, Gr1 Goodwood Stakes, Gr3 Colonel Reeves Stakes & Gr3 AJ Scahill Stakes) and 4 placings (including the inaugural The Everest in 2017) from 22 starts for $3,597,300 in earnings.
At Royal Randwick in Sydney, Darley's three-time Gr1-winning world-class shuttle sire Dubawi (Dubai Millennium-Zomaradah, by Deploy) added a black-type success when 7YO Australian-bred gelding Jungle Edge (Dubawi-Jungle Girl, by Carnegie) once again showed his predilection for wet tracks when scoring a comfortable front-running win in the $150,000 Listed June Stakes (1100m) for 3YO+, defeating Shiraz & I Thought So. Jungle Edge, who broke through the million dollar earnings barrier, improved his record to 14 wins (including the Gr3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes, Gr3 BRC Sprint & Gr3 Star Kingdom Stakes) and 13 placings (including the Gr1 ATC Galaxy & Gr1 ATC All Aged Stakes) from 52 starts for $1,019,260 in prize money. "It's hard to get heavy tracks and when he has ever got them, he shows them he is the best wet tracker in Australia," trainer Mick Bell said. "He is the horse of a lifetime. What a dream come true to get a horse that has clocked over $1 million, it's absolutely unbelievable. He is a beautiful horse and the ride continues." Jungle Edge is likely to make his next appearance in the Winter Dash (1200m) at Randwick in a fortnight.
At Royal Randwick in Sydney, Arrowfield Stud's incumbent Champion Australian Sire Snitzel (Redoute's Choice-Snippets' Lass, by Snippets) added a Group race success when 5YO Australian-bred gelding Redzel (Snitzel-Millrich, by Rubiton) showed his class when scoring a track record win in the $500,000 Gr2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) for 3YO+, defeating Jungle Edge & Super Too. Redzel improved his record to 12 wins (including The Everest, Gr1 Darley Classic, Gr1 Doomben 10,000, Gr2 Shorts, Gr3 Concorde Stakes, Gr3 Hall Mark Stakes, Gr3 Heath Stakes & Listed Fireball Stakes) and 6 placings (including the Gr1 ATC Galaxy Handicap, Gr2 Shorts, Gr2 ATC Challenge Stakes & Gr3 ATC Kindergarten Stakes) from 23 starts for $8,221,750 in earnings. Co-trainer Paul Snowden said Redzel would not race again until the $2.5 million Gr1 weight-for-age TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on 7 April. "I was thinking about the William Reid but the TJ is the one we really want to win," Snowden told Sky Racing. "He's such as easy horse to prepare, we know what to do with him. A barrier trial in between should have him at the mark." Redzel, who is out of Gr3 Sweet Embrace Stakes winner & Golden Slipper placegetter Millrich, was a $120,000 purchase by Triple Crown Syndications at the 2014 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale from the draft of Marquee Stud. He was originally sold for $45,000 at the 2013 Inglis Australian Bloodstock Select Weanling Sale.
At Sandown in Melbourne, Darley's three-time Gr1-winning world-class shuttle sire Dubawi (Dubai Millennium-Zomaradah, by Deploy) added a Group success when 7YO Australian-bred gelding Jungle Edge (Dubawi-Jungle Girl, by Carnegie) scored a brave front-running win in the $150,000 weight-for-age Gr3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) for 3YO+, defeating Casino Wizard & Thronum. Jungle Edge improved his record to 12 wins (including the Gr3 BRC Sprint & Gr3 Star Kingdom Stakes) and 11 placings (including the Gr1 ATC Galaxy & Gr1 ATC All Aged Stakes) from 45 starts for $770,260 in earnings.
Strong pre-post favourite Clearly Innocent has drawn a horror marble for connections in Saturday's Gr1 Stradbroke Handicap at Doomben which has thrown the market into disarray. As short as $3.60 before the barrier draw, the top weight has eased markedly out to $4.60 after being asked to jump from gate 20. Also faring badly was Derry (21) who has also slipped out a few points. Counterattack, close up behind Redzel over 1200m at Doomben two starts ago, has fared much better for trainer Chris Waller, drawing two off the paint. While his price has remained constant at $8.50, each of Jungle Edge (7) and Ulmann (8) has tightened up since the draw.
At Eagle Farm racecourse in Brisbane on Saturday, Arrowfield Stud's multiple stakes-winning stallion Not A Single Doubt (Redoute's Choice-Single's Bar, by Rory's Jester) celebrated an elite race success when 5YO gelding Clearly Innocent (Not a Single Doubt-No Penalty, by Zabeel) unleashed his trademark electric turn of foot to post his maiden top-flight victory in the $700,000 Gr1 Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) for 3YO+, defeating Jungle Edge & Counterattack. The richly talented Clearly Innocent advanced his record to 9 wins (including the Listed Luskin Star Stakes - twice) and 1 placing from 15 starts for $1,059,650 earnings. Retained to race by his breeder Cressfield Stud, Clearly Innocent is out of the Zabeel mare No Penalty and hails from the female family of New Zealand & Australian Oaks winner Domino and Listed Reginald Allen Quality winner Gimmick, dam of Gr1 TJ Smith Classic (now JJ Atkins Stakes) winner Linky Dink. Trainer Kris Lees hopes that the handicapper gives Clearly Innocent enough weight to ensure he gains a start in the $1.5 million Gr1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on 10 June. "He improved off his Luskin Star win at Scone but going from a Listed race to weight-for-age was always a concern," Lees told Racing Queensland Webnews. "Obviously, he'll improve further now before the Stradbroke."
At Doomben racecourse in Brisbane, Darley's three-time Gr1-winning world-class shuttle sire Dubawi (Dubai Millennium-Zomaradah, by Deploy) added a Group success when 6YO gelding Jungle Edge (Dubawi-Jungle Girl, by Carnegie) excelled in the heavy conditions to win the $125,000 Gr3 BRC Sprint (1350m) for 3YO+, defeating High Midnight & Ulmann. Jungle Edge, who improved his record to 11 wins (including the Gr3 Star Kingdom Stakes) and 10 placings (including the Gr1 ATC Galaxy & Gr1 ATC All Aged Stakes) from 37 starts for $514,610 earnings. Jungle Edge showed he was on target for the $1.5 million Gr1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on 10 June. "He's the best horse I've trained and this is a new world for me. He keeps getting better and better and it's scary," trainer Mick Bell said. "The plan now is to still run in the Kingsford Smith Cup next week then two weeks later in the Stradbroke."
Former top-class Kiwi juvenile Dal Cielo (Per Incanto-Cent From Heaven, by Centaine) will make his next appearance in the $150,000 Listed Ortensia Stakes (1100m) at Scone on Saturday week after scoring an impressive barrier trial win at Wyong on Monday, reports racingnsw.com.au. A winner of the Gr1 Diamond Stakes as a juvenile, Dal Cielo hasn't raced since finishing second to noted wet tracker Jungle Edge in the Gr3 Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on 25 March. "Dal Cielo races well fresh, and the 1100m and big track at Scone will suit him," trainer Kris Lees said. Formerly prepared by champion New Zealand trainers Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman, Dal Cielo is part-owned by Wellington businessman Lib Petagna, who also raced Lees' triple Gr1 winner Lucia Valentina.
At Royal Randwick in Sydney, Coolmore's deceased dual Derby-winning shuttler & 6-time Gr1 victor High Chaparral (Sadler's Wells-Kasora, by Dashaan) celebrated an elite success when 4YO entire Tivaci (High Chaparral-Breccia, by Fastnet Rock) stormed home from near last on the turn to claim a well-deserved maiden top-flight victory in the $600,000 Gr1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) for 3YO+, defeating Le Romain and Jungle Edge. The Waikato Stud-bound Tivaci improved his record to 6 wins (including the Gr3 Sunshine Coast Guineas, Gr3 CS Hayes Stakes & Listed VRC Kensington Stakes) & 5 placings (including the Gr1 Cantala Stakes & Gr1 Toorak Handicap) from 21 starts for $992,250 earnings. Trainer Mike Moroney said he would sit down with Tivaci's owners to decide whether he retires now or presses on to the winter carnival in Queensland. "It's terrific. He's been placed in a lot of Group Ones, he deserved to get one here," Moroney told AAP. "It's very timely because it's been widely speculated he's going to stud." He added: "We'll have a bit of a meeting now as to whether we race on or whether he goes now." Tivaci, who hails from the family of Gr1 Toorak Handicap winner Allez Wonder and is a direct descendant of Melbourne Cup winning mare Rainbird (7th dam), was a NZ$250,000 purchase by Paul Moroney Bloodstock at the 2014 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale from the draft of Princes Farm.
At Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, Darley's three-time Gr1-winning world-class shuttle sire Dubawi (Dubai Millennium-Zomaradah, by Deploy) added a Group success when 6YO gelding Jungle Edge (Dubawi-Jungle Girl, by Carnegie) relished the heavy conditions to score by 2 lengths for trainer Mick Bell in the $150,000 Gr3 Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m) for 3YO+, over 4YO gelding Dal Cielo (Per Incanto-Cent From Heaven, by Centaine) & 3YO colt Impending (Lonhro-Mnemosyne, by Encosta de Lago). This was the first stakes victory for Jungle Edge who improved his record to 10 wins and 9 placings from 34 starts for $368,010 earnings.
At Rosehill Gardens in Sydney on a heavy track, Arrowfield Stud's Gr1-winning high profile stallion Snitzel (Redoute's Choice-Snippets' Lass, by Snippets) celebrated an elite quinella when 3YO colt Russian Revolution (Snitzel-Ballet d'Amour, by Stravinsky) resumed with a narrow but decisive 0.2 length win for trainers Peter & Paul Snowden in the $700,000 Gr1 Galaxy (11000m) for 3YO+, over 4YO gelding and stable-mate Redzel (Snitzel-Millrich, by Rubiton) & 6YO gelding Jungle Edge (Dubawi-Jungle Girl, by Carnegie). Russian Revolution improved his record to 5 wins (including the Gr2 Roman Consul Stakes & Gr3 Vain Stakes) from 6 starts for $808,725 earnings. Russian Revolution races in the red and yellow star silks of the China Horse Club which purchased him for $320,000 at the 2015 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale from the draft of Vinery Stud. His maiden Gr1 success means he has now secured his future at stud like so many of other his esteemed family members being a direct descendant of celebrated blue hen Fanfreluche, ancestress of former champion Australian sires Encosta de Lago and Flying Spur, and Coolmore stallion Holy Roman Emperor. Co-trainer Paul Snowden said Russian Revolution could make his next appearance in the $2.5 million Gr1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on 1 April. "We'll just have to make sure he comes through today's run all right," Snowden said. "He's put in a mighty performance today. The horse comes first." Henry Field, part-owner of Newgate Farm, said: "He's an incredibly well bred colt, an incredibly talented colt and he'll make a huge impact at stud,'' Field said. "He's won five from six, to be fair to Peter and Paul (Snowden) they said he was the real deal from the beginning, and that's been vindicated today with his Group 1.''
At Caulfield in Melbourne, Yarraman Park's Gr3-winning stallion I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit-Cannarelle, by Canny Lad) added a black-type success when 5YO gelding Voodoo Lad (I Am Invincible-O'Fortuna, by Gilded Time) scored by 2.25-lengths for trainer Darren Weir in the $120,000 Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) for 3YO+, over 6YO geldings Jungle Edge (Dubawi-Jungle Girl, by Carnegie) & Fast 'N' Rocking (Fastnet Rock-For the Good Times, by Hennessy). This was the first stakes victory for Voodoo Lad who improved his record to 7 wins and 7 placings (including the Listed VRC All Victorian Series Final Handicap) from 14 starts for 417,160 earnings. A $36,000 purchase by Segenhoe Stud at the 2013 Inglis Select Scone Yearling Sale, Voodoo Lad hails from the same family as champion grey sprinter and 8-time Gr1 winner Schillaci.