Australian racing season in review: Winners, losers, drugs and scandal: another year on and off the track   Leave a comment

Australian racing season in review: Winners, losers, drugs and scandal: another year on and off the track

July 23, 2015 – 6:56PM

Chris Roots, Adam Pengilly and Max Presnell

Strong season: Joao Moriera guides Brazen Beau to victory in the Newmarket Handicap.Strong season: Joao Moriera guides Brazen Beau to victory in the Newmarket Handicap. Photo: Getty Images

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Chris Roots: In a year where the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup winners came from overseas, Australia’s best horse comes down to a fight between an area where our stock is undoubtedly world class. Our sprinters turned on a great battle throughout the season, with a different winner to most battles.

Brazen Beau was unbeaten in group 1 company over 1200m at home before heading to England to fly the flag at Royal Ascot and Newmarket. He proved the best three-year-old sprinter in the Coolmore Stud Stakes in the spring and then took care of the big names in the Newmarket Handicap again down the Flemington straight in the autumn. A second-placed finish in the Lightning Stakes also came about. He was a brave runner-up in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and deserves the accolade.

Proven performer: Blake Shinn enjoyed another great year in the saddle.Proven performer: Blake Shinn enjoyed another great year in the saddle. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Adam Pengilly: Dissident. Unfashionable, but who cares? The big Diss was the only horse to win four group 1s during the season – granted, some fielded far from elite fields – but his gripping All Aged Stakes win before riding off into a sunset full of frisky fillies was enough to seal the deal. Think he was an important horse to Peter Moody? Just watch the big fella lead him in after his swansong. He knew there is probably not a horse who can usurp him for top honours now.

Max Presnell:  It’s a dud season when a sprinter, Brazen Beau, can take the title with only two group 1 successes. Dissident wasn’t flash, but gallant, with four triumphs at the elite level which is what the title is about. Perhaps it can be argued some group 1s are stronger than others but that’s a debate for another forum.


Roots: Chris Waller continues to amaze but has there been a better first full season as a public trainer than the partnership of Peter and Paul Snowden. They built a stable after parting with the strength of Darley and within a year have five group 1 winners. Of these Pride Of Dubai, the Blue Diamond and Sires’ Produce Stakes winner, and Caulfield Guineas hero Shooting To Win have fashioned stud careers, while Miracles Of Life won the William Hill Classic and Hot Snitzel chalked up a long-promised group 1 win in the BTC Cup. The stable is still developing in size and quality, but it punched well above its weight this season.

Pengilly: The record books won’t know what hit them once Chris Waller is finished. Fourteen group 1 wins for the season says it all really. But that stat even slipped into the shade when you consider the feat was achieved with a remarkable 13 individual horses (only Brazen Beau managed multiple group 1s for Waller during the term). He might still have his knockers, but there is no better at getting a horse cherry ripe for one target race. And there will probably be more of the same next season.

Presnell: Fourteen group 1s and another demolition of the Sydney trainer’s premierships makes Chris Waller a no brainer. Sure, others have had strong seasons, particularly Peter Snowden and the Hawkes team, with John O’Shea getting Darley into full flight, which adds to Waller’s performance. The downside with Waller was the way he wiped Jim Cassidy for the opening of the Randwick Championships in favour of world acclaimed jockeys who rode like camel drivers.


Roots: Blake Shinn did everything in a year that will define his comeback as a jockey, even losing his pants. While he became a social media sensation for that day at Canterbury, he was matched with the best riders in the country and his second half of the season, where his confidence had grown, was outstanding. Five group 1 wins and more than 100 on metropolitan tracks around the country. The highlight for Shinn was winning for his family on Fenway in the Vinery Stakes after been sacked from race favourite First Seal. He also dominated Doomben Cup day, where he rode five winners, including Pornichet in the feature and Hot Snitzel in the BTC Cup.

Pengilly: Just how much more improvement is left in Hugh Bowman? Still a long way off the Jim Cassidy vintage, but Bowman is well and truly the wrong side of 30. And keeps getting better. The horseman from Dunedoo won nine majors for the season – three more than his nearest rival – and could have had more if not for a bizarre improper riding ban smack bang in the middle of the Melbourne spring. A third Sydney jockeys’ title – should he not surrender a slender lead – will be the icing on the cake.

Presnell: The current crop in Sydney, led by Hugh Bowman, Blake Shinn and James McDonald, has never been stronger but when the depth, Damien Oliver, Craig Williams and Dwayne Dunn, in Melbourne is considered, it is, indeed, a vintage period. And don’t forget the old fella, Jim Cassidy, he’s a freak of this year and just about every other one. Give it to Bowman who leads the group wins with 25.


Roots: Cobalt has become the dirty six-letter word in racing. While a threshold come in without much fanfare in Victoria in April, it was well known by the end of the season. Big names Peter Moody, Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien were caught in the Racing Victoria net and are fighting to clear their names. Darren Smith continues to appeal a 15-year ban for the prohibited substance. The web around Sam Kavanagh’s cobalt inquiry revealed an underbelly to racing.

Pengilly: Whether they like it or not, racing folk reluctantly concede mainstream Australia cares about the sport for one race on one day of the year. It just happened that the 2014 Melbourne Cup made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Two horses dead, one including the Japanese-trained favourite which staggered past the line and collapsed in his stall after a heart attack, was exactly the headlines the sport didn’t need. And to top off Admire Rakti’s death, Araldo was later put down after fracturing a leg in a fence when taking fright from a flag-waving racegoer. Madness.

Presnell:  Cobalt, which gives beer a good head, came to the fore in one of racing’s greatest controversies but hot favourite Admire Rakti’s demise after the Melbourne Cup, considering the circumstances, make it a dark chapter in the history of Australia’s greatest race. Maybe the real story, a title winner for sure, has yet to be told. Don Terry, the former jockey, walking again after 18 years, filled the feel-good void in a period of industry decline.


Roots: The fascinating three-way fight for the Sydney jockeys’ title will go down to the wire and it could be the trainers’ premiership next year. Chris Waller is still at the height of his powers but Team Snowden and Godolphin’s trainer John O’Shea are closing the gap and getting stronger.It would be no surprise to see these powerful stables fighting for the title and that is not to forget Gai Waterhouse, who has the numbers and quality to challenge as well.

Pengilly: Cobalt, cobalt, cobalt. More trainers, more vets, more penalties, more appeals. There will be no end in sight. If the back half of the season has seemed like saturation coverage, it will pale in comparison to next term. As some learned judges have said, racing is facing its Lance Armstrong moment. And there will be no greater coverage of it than during the spring carnival, when the majority of Victorian cases are likely to be heard.

Presnell: The Australian Turf Club will move of the pre-and-after race horse presentation at Royal Randwick to the front of the grandstand, with director Julia Ritchie leading the charge, and give a better focus for racegoers than the Theatre Of The Absurd.

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Posted July 24, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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