Flemington races: Fierce Impact wins Makybe Diva Stakes; Russian Camelot shines in defeat

In a race marred by the tragedy, the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes served dual purposes — the confirmation of Russian Camelot’s genuine Cox Plate claims and Fierce Impact’s rise to status as the nation’s best miler.

In a stunning performance, Russian Camelot came within a neck of landing Flemington’s first Group 1 of the season despite data showing he covered 11m more than Fierce Impact, who was unaffected by the disruption caused by Gatting’s catastrophic leg injury.

Last year’s winner Gatting was humanely euthanised after appearing to fracture a nearside foreleg after only 400m, casting a pall over Flemington and dulling much of a sensational finish. Jockey Luke Nolen was unhurt.

He's a Group 1 star. The son of Deep Impact, Fierce Impact beats Russian Camelot in a brilliant performance to take out the Makybe Diva Stakes. 🇯🇵 @FlemingtonVRC#ディープインパクト #JRA #競馬 #騎手 @netkeiba pic.twitter.com/c5G2BPyuBx

While there was deserved acknowledgment of Fierce Impact’s remarkable effort to win a third Group 1 1600m contest in Melbourne in less than a year, the aftermath of the race centred on Russian Camelot’s phenomenal effort.

He is now outright favourite for the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate and TAB joint favourite with Surprise Baby at $9 for the Melbourne Cup.

Trainer Danny O’Brien was elated with the Irish-bred, SA Derby winner, who was contesting only his sixth start.

“I was happy enough,” the Melbourne Cup-winning trainer said.

Fierce Impact held off Russian Camelot to win the Makybe Diva Stakes. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“He’s obviously been wide and without cover but it’s probably the only option from that gate and, as it was, he avoided all of the interference when the horse broke down near the back half of the field.

“He was happy there, he was beaten by a top-class miler, that’s a three-time Group 1-winning miler now and he’s been beaten a neck.

“For a first-up performance for the spring, I don’t think you can ask for much more.”

Russian Camelot hit the front under Damien Oliver before Zahra speared through on Fierce Impact to snatch the lead.

O’Brien now has a clear pathway to the centenary Cox Plate.

“He’ll probably go to two weeks to the Underwood (Stakes), two weeks to the Caulfield Stakes and two weeks to the Cox Plate,” he said.

“We think, Damien and myself, that those gaps are what his needs to just keep the freshness out of him. A bit of racing now, at his age, is probably ideal.”

Fierce Impact’s trainer Matthew Smith is also likely to head to the Caulfield Stakes in search of a Cox Plate berth – and is justifiably wary of bumping into Russian Camelot again.

“Mark rode him perfectly, judged it perfectly and we couldn’t be happier,” Smith said.

“These races are so hard to win. You can make all the plans, have the horse ready, draw a good barrier bit it all still needs to work out.

“Russian Camelot is a serious horse, too. To fend him off was something.”

So Si Bon finished third.

Fierce Impact snared another Group 1 win over a mile at Flemington. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

ON THE PUNT — FLEMINGTON

TRACK HANDLES TEST

The weather Gods threatened to wreak havoc with a quality program yet, even after nine races, Liam O’Keeffe’s typically professional efforts paid off. Champion jockey Craig Williams led the praise after winning the last on September Run.

“Credit to Liam O’Keefe and his team at Flemington, with the weather that we’ve had forecast, they presented such a beautiful track today,” Williams said. “You can see that you could win from anywhere today if you had the right horse.

“She (September Run) had the run under her belt, well placed and targeted down here. On the way to the start I thought she had sheer speed, but in the race when the gates opened she relaxed nicely and I just bided my time. When I asked her to extend she had great acceleration and she was quite solid through the line.”

ONE TO WATCH

The Chosen One was the subject of a decent Melbourne Cup wager from Tom Waterhouse at last year’s Call Of The Card. That seemed a distant memory as the Kiwi drifted notably in the Winning Edge Handicap, but the gelding’s class shone with a devastating win. “It was a very stylish win. He improved up in behind them and I gave him a couple with the whip and he just exploded. It was easy in the end,” Jockey Michael Dee said.

WONDERFUL FRIEND

Travimyfriend put a dent in many quaddies when he arrived late to blouse the favourites in The Sofitel. Travimyfriend was beaten a long neck in the same race last year at $51 but came from last to get the money as a $21 chance on Saturday. An early bump left Travimyfriend at the back of the field but the eight-year-old stormed home under Dean Yendall’s riding to beat the $2.20 favourite Windstorm. “He’s just a neat old horse. He generally always tries – a couple of times, he hasn’t. He’s just wonderful,” Travimyfriend’s trainer Rachael Frost said.

Travimyfriend has been a marvel for Rachael Frost and becomes her first @FlemingtonVRC winner! pic.twitter.com/vkXgT0rCfb

LORD ON CUP PATH

Lord Belvedere continued Ciaron Maher and David Eustace’s stunning run to the season with the stable producing the runner-up Persan and fourth placegetter Exemplar. Lord Belvedere next heads to the Bart Cummings in search of a Melbourne Cup start. The gelding’s owners drew praise from Eustace for donating 10 per cent of the $74,500 winners’ cheque to race sponsor, the Very Special Kids Foundation.

CLEAR AIR FOR CROSSHAVEN

Luck wasn’t part of the equation this time for Crosshaven in the Listed Exford Plate (1400m). Crosshaven was checked in the straight when beaten a length first-up in the McNeil Stakes but had plenty of galloping room at Flemington. Crosshaven raced on the speed before proving too strong for Sydney colt Bartley in the $140,000 race. Victoria Derby favourite Cherry Tortoni ran on well for third in a pleasing first-up run. TAB.com.au cut Crosshaven’s Caulfield Guineas quote to $15 after his win while Immortal Love drifted from $11 to $26 failing to beat a runner home as a $3.70 favourite at Flemington.

EXCUSES, EXCUSES

Young Rascal – lame near hind leg.

Kings Will Dream, Miami Bound and Vow And Declare – all suffered interference in Gatting incident

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“He’s a great team player and we’re thrilled for him to get a Group 2 winner for his first winner back,” Trainer Calvin McEvoy on Luke Currie’s winning return aboard Pretty Brazen.

TWEET OF THE DAY

“The thrilla from Chinchilla #Rothfire.” John Millman, a keen racing fan, monitoring the Run To The Rose from Europe.

The thrilla from Chinchilla #Rothfire 🔥 🔥

TAB BETTING REVIEW

FLEMINGTON

RACE ONE

Punters didn’t enjoy the start to the day at Flemington with Lord Belvedere upsetting the big moves for Schabau and Persan in the Very Special Kids Pin and Win Plate (2500 metres). Between the two favourites they held a whopping 80 per cent of the market between them.

Schabau ($2.15-$1.95-$2.30) was clearly the most popular runner while Persan ($4-$4.20-$3.30) was the late firmer in betting. Lord Belvedere ($8.50-$12) continued to drift throughout the afternoon, as did most of the field, thanks to the money for the favourites.

BETS: Schabau $4,000 @ $2.30, $2,000 @ $2.30 MULTIPLE TIMES, $1,600 @ $2.25, $1,000 @ $2.20, $3,000 @ $2.10, $7,500 @ $1.95, $1,000 @ $1.95 MULTIPLE TIMES

Young Rascal $2,000 @ $11, $1,000 x $2,000 e/w @ $11/$2.60, Persan $2,000 @ $4.20, $1,000 @ $4.20, $2,084 @ $3.50, $1,000 @ $3.50, $20,000 @ $1.50 PLACE, $1,000 @ $3.30 MULTIPLE TIMES, Roland Garros $1,000 e/w @ $21/$4

RACE TWO

Most of the big money was riding with Immortal Love in the Antler Luggage Exford Plate (1400 metres). Opening at $4 on Wednesday, it touched $4.80 at one point before a flood of money saw it bottom out at $3.30 this afternoon. He would jump a $3.70 favourite and be responsible for nearly three times as much money as anything else. Crosshaven ($7.50-$9) was too strong after sitting outside the leader Bartley ($4.80-$5.50-$4.80) but did have admirers at the each way odds. Cherry Tortoni ($5-$6.50-$5.50) was best tried of the others.

BETS: Immortal Love $5,000 @ $3.30, $4,500 @ $3.30, $2,000 @ $3.30 TWICE, $1,200 @ $3.30, $25,000 @ $1.60 PLACE, Cherry Tortoni $2,000 @ $6, Bartley $5,000 @ $5, $1,000 @ $5

RACE THREE

There was some light specking for Pretty Brazen in the Furphy Let’s Elope Stakes 1400 metres), however, she was overshadowed largely by some of the more favoured runners. The Team McEvoy galloper was $23 at the start of the day and bottomed out at $19 before starting at $21. Like most of the field, she drifted late as the big money came for Arcadia Queen ($3.10-$3.80), Savatiano ($2.50-$2.70) and My Gold Bracelet ($10-$6). Incredibly, the three abovementioned horses commanded 80 per cent of the total investment.

BETS: Savatiano $2,500 @ $2.80, $2,000 @ $2.80 TWICE, $2,500 @ $2.70, $1,800 @ $2.60, $1,000 @ $2.50, Arcadia Queen $2,500 @ $3.80, $1,000 @ $3.80 MULTIPLE TIMES, $1,500 @ $3.70, $1,000 @ $3.70, $1,000 @ $3.60, $1,000 @ $3.10

RACE FOUR

Zoutori defied a slight drift in the market to finish best and take out a thrilling Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200 metres). Going $3.80-$4.60 on the day, astute TAB customers who shopped early were able to secure as much as $5 when markets first opened. Bold Star ($4-$4.60) held the most money in front of Tofane ($3.70-$5) while Banquo ($9-$5.50) was the most notable firm in the race.

BETS: Zoutori $1,500 @ $4.60, $1,000 @ $4.60 MULTIPLE TIMES, Banquo $3,500 @ $8, $1,000 @ $7.50, $1,000 @ $7, Tofane $1,500 @ $4.80, $1,042 @ $4.80, $1,000 @ $4.80, Bold Star $4,000 @ $4.40, $2,000 @ $4.40, $1,100 @ $4.40

RACE FIVE

The Chosen One caused somewhat of an upset in the Winning Edge Presentations Handicap (1700 metres). The entire was $14 in the morning and got to as much as $26, however, a late rally saw it start a $19 chance. Michael Dee tracked up behind the leading pack on the bend and then found clear running in the straight, with the Baker & Forsman runner finishing best to win impressively over the popular Django Freeman ($4.20) and Aristia ($14). Aktau ($3.70) went around as clearly the most popular runner and held nearly double anything else in the race. Shot Of Irish’s withdrawal at the barriers caused some reshuffling to the market as it was $4.60 prior to its scratching.

BETS: Aktau $1,300 @ $4.40, $1,188 @ $4.40, $1,000 @ $4.40, Toffee Tongue $1,500 @ $8, $1,000 @ $8, $1,500 @ $7.50, Django Freeman $1,000 @ $5 TWICE

RACE SIX

Many Quaddie players were sent packing after the heavily tried Windstorm couldn’t get the job done in The Sofitel (1400 metres). The best tried runner all day in terms of money held, Windstorm ($2.20) was seven times as popular as the next best supported runner in the race which was Yulong January ($9-$6.50). Looking the winner midway down the run, Windstorm was swamped near the line by Travimyfriend ($21) with Morvada ($21) holding third after running a cheeky race out in front.

BETS: Windstorm $2,000 @ $2.40, $1,000 @ $2.40 MULTIPLE TIMES, $10,000 @ $2.30, $4,000 @ $2.30, $3,000 @ $2.30, $2,000 @ $2.30 MULTIPLE TIMES, $5,000 @ $2.20, $3,000 @ $2.20, $1,000 @ $2.20, $1,250 @ $2.15, $3,500 @ $2.10, $2,000 @ $2.10, $2,000 @ $2, $1,000 @ $2, Romancer $6,500 x $1,500 @ $7.50/$2.40

RACE SEVEN

The money all week suggested Fierce Impact would run a top race in the PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes (1600 metres). TAB went up $7 on Wednesday and he was one of the first horses backed, firming into $5.50 shortly afterwards. More money overnight saw $4.40 posted this morning and after bottoming out at $4, the Matt Smith runner jumped a $4.20 favourite. Mark Zahra gave the son of Deep Impact the perfect run and the seven-year-old did the rest, sprinting sharply to hit the front early in the straight and then held off the well-tried Russian Camelot at the finish. Russian Camelot was a drifter for most of the day, going $4-$4.80 but fluctuating in between those prices. The quinella pairing held the most money in the race and commanded 44 per cent of the market. Of the rest, Perfect Jewel ($6.50-$4.80) was a noted mover while Master Of Wine ($11) was popular as was Kings Will Dream ($10-$12).

BETS: Fierce Impact $5,000 @ $4.20, $2,500 e/w @ $4.20/$1.70, $2,000 @ $4.20, $1,000 @ $4.20 MULTIPLE TIMES, $5,000 @ $4, $1,500 @ $4, $1,000 @ $4, Perfect Jewel $3,000 @ $5.50, $2,000 x $3,000 e/w @ $5.50/$2.10, $2,000 @ $5.50, $1,400 @ $5.50, $1,000 @ $5.50 MULTIPLE TIMES, $20,000 @ $5, Master Of Wine $4,400 x $1,000 e/w @ $10/$3.10, $1,500 e/w @ $10/$3.10, Kings Will Dream $1,000 @ $11, Russian Camelot $2,000 @ $5, $3,000 @ $4.80, $2,000 @ $4.80, $2,000 @ $4.60, $1,600 @ $4.60, $3,000 @ $4.40, $4,000 @ $4.20, $2,000 @ $4.20, $1,500 @ $4.20 MULTIPLE TIMES, $1,100 @ $4.20, $1,000 @ $4.20

RACE EIGHT

Doubtland delivered a big blow to TAB with its win in the Seppelt Danehill Stakes (1200 metres). Attracting good money all day at the each way odds, Doubtland jumped a $7 chance and was the second best supported runner in the race behind Prague ($4.40). It was a horror result for TAB especially since the final stages of betting saw a number of big bets (see below) come for the Team Hawkes galloper. Amish Boy ($41) and Ranting ($13) added some spice to the multiples. Of the others, there were moves for On The Lead ($11-$8) and Annavisto ($9.50-$6).

BETS: Doubtland $5,000 x $1,000 e/w @ $7/$2.15,$2,000 @ $7, $1,000 x $6,000 e/w @ $7/$1.90, $5,000 e/w @ $6.50/$2.30, Prague $5,000 @ $4.80, $2,000 e/w @ $4.40/$1.85, $2,000 x $3,000 e/w @ $4.40/$1.80, Personal $1,000 @ $10, Annavisto $5,000 @ $7, $1,000 @ $6 TWICE, Tydeus $3,000 @ $11

RACE NINE

A late bet by one TAB customers netted them a $45,000 collect in the G.H Mumm Cap D’Antibes Stakes (1100 metres). The punter outlaid $3,000 on the Chris Waller runner September Run ($23-$12-$15) which had been at much bigger odds earlier in the day, however, jumped a $15 chance after some consistent support in the afternoon. Craig Williams gave the daughter of Exceed And Excel a sweet run before diving back to the far side and letting the filly show off her sprint to hold off Swat’s That ($6.50) and Minhaaj ($4.80-$5.50).

Minhaaj was easily the most popular horse in the race while Parlophone ($4.60-$6-$4.80) was next best with September Run after that. The winner was a terrible result for TAB.

BETS: September Run $3,000 @ $15, Minhaaj $5,000 @ $5, $3,000 @ $5, Parlophone $1,000 @ $5.50 MULTIPLE TIMES

Originally published asMighty Russian makes big Impact in defeat

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