The 2012/13 thoroughbred racing season has come to an end. It was a season with many highlights and a few lowlights as well. It was a season that featured photo finishes, fairytale endings, record-breaking achievements and champions of the turf doing what they do best. We're counting down the top 10 moments from the 2012/13 thoroughbred racing season.
It's A Dundeel became just the fifth horse to take out Sydney's Three-Year-Old Triple Crown and the first since the Canterbury Guineas became the Randwick Guineas. The Murray Baker trained colt completed the feat in domineering style, winning the final leg (the Australian Derby) by six lengths. Jockey James McDonald was impressive in each of the wins but this three-year-old colt lit up Sydney racing and will be one to watch around in the big spring features.
Pierro and All Too Hard have arguably been the best three-year-olds we've seen for some time. Pierro racked up five G1's (two this season) and $4.5 million in career prize money before his connections decided to retire him to Coolmore Stud. All Too Hard notched four G1 wins (all as a three-year-old) and earned a career total of $2.3 million in prize money before he too went to stud. The two clashed in the 2012 Run To The Rose at Rosehill with Pierro taking the honours and All Too Hard finishing fifth. They met again in the G1 Caulfield Guineas, with All Too Hard scoring a hard fought win, a half-length ahead of Pierro. The two looked primed to battle out the 2012 Cox Plate but both fell short with All Too Hard finishing a neck second to Ocean Park and Pierro four lengths behind in third. There will be plenty of debate over who should be regarded as the best three-year-old, however both of these horses have been equine stars and provided great racing highlights.
The racing industry was rocked after it was discovered during the 2012 Spring Carnival that one of Australia's top jockeys had placed a bet on a rival horse. Damien Oliver was slapped with an eight month disqualification and a two month suspension from racing and lost up to $400,000 in potential income after he was found guilty of placing a $10,000 bet on a rival horse, Miss Octopussy, in a race in which he was riding. Oliver claimed the bet at Moonee Valley was the only one he had ever made and he had never deliberately tried to lose a race. Oliver apologised to the racing industry for his actions and he will be able to return to racing on September 13 in time for the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival.
In a classy field which contained the likes of Green Moon, More Joyous, Pierro, All Too Hard, Southern Speed and Sincero - it was the colt from New Zealand, Ocean Park, who produced a sweeping run from near the back of the field to give jockey Glen Boss his third Cox Plate victory. Trainer Gary Hennessy described the win as a victory for New Zealand.
A tendon injury forced connections to announce the retirement of Ocean Park in April 2013. Ocean Park won eight of his 15 starts in a career that reaped more than $2.7 million in prize money.
International stayer Dunaden rewrote history winning the 2012 Caulfield Cup. Dunaden became the first original top-weight to win the race since Tobin Bronze in 1967 and was the first horse to win the race from an outside barrier (18) since Lord Reims in 1987. Dunaden emulated the feat of Viewed (2008-09) and Rising Fast (1954-55) winning the Melbourne Cup-Caulfield Cup double in separate seasons. After jumping from the outside barrier, in-form jockey Craig Williams had Dunaden on the rails, third-last at the 1000 metre-mark before peeling wide on the home turn and thundering home to score a memorable win ahead of Alcopop and Lights Of Heaven.
Former Melbourne Jockey, Brett Prebble, flew back into town from Hong Kong to get on board Green Moon, an Irish born six-year-old trained by Robert Hickmont for Team Williams. The son of Montjeu won the Turnbull Stakes a month earlier but finished seventh in the Cox Plate. Prebble masterminded a dazzling race on Green Moon, sitting in eighth place, positioned on the fence for the majority of the race. He then ran through the field and burst to the front with 250 metres to go, finishing in grand fashion to give owner Lloyd Williams his fourth Melbourne Cup win as an owner. Green Moon finished second in the 2011 Caulfield Cup and almost pulled off the double but earned worldwide respect for winning the race that stops a nation.
Chris Waller took his stable to a new level this season, training 167 and a half winners and breaking the record for training the most winners in a Sydney season. Waller entered the Rosehill meeting on Saturday July 6 with 156 wins, needing just one win to surpass the record set by TJ Smith and equalled by Gai Waterhouse. It was a chestnut gelding by the name of Oompa Loompa who cruised home to win a Benchmark 79 race to etch Waller's name in history. Waller capped the record-breaking day with four winners and thanked his family and staff for their hard work and dedication which helped him to achieve the feat.
The story of the little filly who could. It was an unlikely Group 1 triumph for apprentice jockey, Lauren Stojakovic, on board the tiny two-year-old chestnut, Miralces Of Life, in the Blue Diamond Stakes but it was a victory that everyone applauded. Stojakovic rode the race of her life to drive the filly home to win Victoria's richest two-year-old race, in a result that melted the heart of anyone who heard the story. Trainer Daniel Clarken resisted the temptation of dropping Stojakovic, in favour of more senior jockeys and it payed off. Clarken gave the 29-year-old apprentice a '10 out of 10' for the ride which brought Stojakovic, her family and connections to tears at Caulfield. Speaking about his exciting filly, Clarken said Miralces Of Life was only a light girl but one who gets the job done.
It had Australian racing in the headlines for all the wrong reasons but we could not dismiss this as it was in the top 10 racing moments of this season. High-profile owner John Singleton was involved in a spectacular race-day blow up with long-time friend and trainer Gai Waterhouse after the flop of More Joyous in the G1 All Aged Stakes. More Joyous drifted in betting from $2.50 to $3 and finished the race seventh, nearly four lengths behind the winner All Too Hard. Singleton allegedly made the claim that Waterhouse's bookmaker son, Tom, had told a good friend of his on the Friday night before the race that More Joyous could not win the All Aged Stakes. Singleton sacked Gai Waterhouse as the trainer of all of his horses. Racing NSW launched an official Inquiry into the matter with Waterhouse and Singleton eventually charged. Singleton pleaded guilty to two charges of conduct prejudicial to the image, interest and welfare of racing and was fined $15,000. Gai Waterhouse was fined $5,000 but appealed her charge of not reporting treatment given to More Joyous before the mare finished second last. Waterhouse was recently found guilty of not revealing More Joyous was lame leading into the Queen Of The Turf Stakes and charged $2,000.
How do you describe this marvel? World Champion? Wondermare? Equine superstar?
Whatever you call her, Black Caviar has been a sporting hero, one who generated a new following of racegoers, who simply wanted to be a part of the magic. This past season we got to see the last of 'the wonder from down under' as she had her final three runs in Melbourne and Sydney then bowed out undefeated, her perfect record intact, her salmon and black emblazoned in history. Black Caviar won her third Lightning Stakes on February 16, before taking out her second Williams Reid on March 22. After Black Caviar won her second T.J. Smith Stakes by three lengths at the recently upgraded Royal Randwick, on April 13, speculation was rife about the mare's future but only days later Nelly's trainer Peter Moody announced the champion had run her last race, as 'what else was there to achieve?'. 25 wins from 25 starts, 15 Group 1 victories, over $7 million in prize money and a nation of hearts won and fans who loved her. In winning 15 races at Group 1 level, Black Caviar surpassed the Group 1 record of Kingston Town that stood for more than 30 years and eight of them were won in succession, earning her comparison to legendary 1940's sprinter Bernborough. In a career where she dominated any competitor, she was flown around the world in the 2011/12 season to take on the northern hemisphere's best sprinters in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, and although she left a few hearts in mouths with the finish, BC did not disappoint. Black Caviar is set to begin a breeding career with newly crowned Australian Champion Sire Exceed And Excel who was chosen to be her first partner. The pair's foals could potentially fetch millions if put up for sale. For those who ever witnessed Black Caviar race, I'm sure you'd agree that we will never forget her.
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