Daily News Wrap

8 min read

Eagle Farm return confirmed

Eagle Farm will return to racing on December 22 with senior jockeys giving the newly re-laid track the thumbs-up after trials were held on Tuesday.

The track has been largely unused for four years because of surface issues, but the completion of four trials without incident has the industry confident it is finally ready to return.

“The feedback from participants following last week’s gallops and today’s barrier trials has been positive,” Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said.

“Eagle Farm is the traditional home of thoroughbred racing in Queensland and I would like to thank all stakeholders for their patience while we’ve worked with the BRC to deliver a return to racing there. Racing Queensland and the BRC will now work to make the appropriate amendments to the racing calendar to accommodate the transfer.”

Two official 1000m trials and two jump-outs were held on the course proper with the Tony Gollan-trained My Girl Hayley (Bradbury's Luck) winning the first heat in 57.60 and the Chris Munce-trained Pony Power (Foxwedge) winning the second in 58.83s

Senior jockeys Jim Byrne, Matt McGillivray, Ron Stewart and Dale Smith all gave the new track the tick of approval.

Changes to the previous Doomben program are below:

Benchmark 90 Handicap - 1200m - $75,000

Benchmark 75 Handicap - 2200m - $75,000

Benchmark 70 Handicap - 1600m - $45,000

Class 6 Handicap - was 1350m, is now 1400m - $75,000

Class 6 Handicap - was 1050m, is now 1000m - $75,000

Class 3 Plate (SW) - 1200m - $45,000

QTIS Eagle Way Stayers Series Final - was 2000m, is now 2200m - $105,000 Plus applicable QTIS bonuses + additional $20K bonus for winner if Qld trained

QTIS 3yo Handicap - was 1110m, is now 1000m - $75,000 Plus applicable QTIS bonuses

QTIS 2yo Handicap - was 1050m, is now 1000m - $75,000 Plus applicable QTIS bonuses

Winx’s future on the table

Details of the racing future of the champion mare Winx (Street Cry {Ire}) will become clearer in the coming days.

“I plan to meet with the ownership group and High Bowman next week to discuss her immediate future and subsequent to that we will update everyone on the plans of a likely autumn preparation,” trainer Chris Waller said.

“Winx has enjoyed her spell and commenced some light pre-training at the farm a few weeks ago. She has progressed well since returning, is bright and looks in excellent condition so I look forward to her return to our stables this week.

Another Arqana purchase for Mills

Australian bloodstock agent Sheamus Mills picked up his fourth purchase for the week at the December Arqana Breeding Stock Sale in France.

Mills paid €17,000 for the broodmare Angel Oak (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}), who is currently in foal to Zarak (Fr).

She is out of G3 winning mare Spring Oka (Mark of Esteem {IRE}), making her a half-sister to the stake-placed Castlereagh (UAE), from a family which includes French Group 1 winners Fragrant Mix (Ire) and Alpine Rose (Fr).

Mills had picked up Zone Regard (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) and Djiva (GB) (High Chaparral {Ire}) on Sunday and Tingu (Fr) (Intello {Ger}) on Saturday.

Autumn Sun glowing

Triple Group 1 winner The Autumn Sun (Redoute’s Choice) has strengthened during his break and will return to Chris Waller’s stable on Christmas Eve, according to part-owner John Messara.

“I think we'll start with the 3-year-old races, like the Hobartville and the Randwick Guineas and after that it's open,” Messara told RSN927.

“At some stage in the autumn we'd like to get to weight-for-age and test him against open horses.

“There's a well-trodden path in Sydney for 3-year-olds and then there's The Championships as well, but we'll be nominating for everything in case the weather conditions change.”

Messara is hoping to avoid the colt's stablemate Winx (Street Cry {IRE}) after deciding not to race The Autumn Sun in this year's G1 Cox Plate.

“I don't want to see her go down and if she does go down I don't want to be involved in it,” Messara said.

“I've seen him twice during the break and he's developed, he's broadened structurally and I think he's going to be a stronger horse.

“Chris has always felt we'll see improvement in the autumn.”

The Autumn Sun racing career may be over by the end of his 3-year-old year if he is successful at weight-for-age.

“But you never say never,” Messara said. “He may go on, but at this stage of the game the inclination is to stop at the end of the season.

“The Cox Plate could entice us to go on as it's a great race, but if he's already won a couple of times at weight-for-age it wouldn't be as important as it otherwise might be.”

Belle stars at trials again

Top class mare Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands) again trialled strongly at Te Aroha on Tuesday as she continues her preparation for a first-up tilt at the G1 Sistema Railway at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

She was never off the bridle when successful at the Matamata trials and was made to work a bit harder this time, racing three wide without cover before quickening under rider Shafiq Rusof to win her 1000 metre heat in 57.6.

Melody Belle

“We were pleased with how she trialled at Matamata, and she’d trained on well since then,” trainer Jamie Richards.

“She’s trialled well again and everything is on track. She did a bit in the trial, and they ran time, but she had a blow and that will tighten her up nicely.”

Richards said the three-time Group 1 winner may have an exhibition gallop on her home course at Matamata on December 19.

“She’s a bigger, stronger mare now and handling her work really well.

“The two week freshen-up after winning three in a row through the spring has done her the world of good and we can push on with a bit of confidence.”

Bottomley banned

Victorian trainer Shane Bottomley has been suspended for three months and fined $6000 after pleading guilty to two charges arising from his treatment of a dead racehorse.

RAD Board Chairman Judge John Bowman described the case as 'dreadful' and 'unpleasant' in finding Bottomley guilty of AR 175 (q), which deals with misconduct, and AR 175 (g) for providing false and misleading evidence.

The Board heard that Bottomley failed to inform the owner of Comanderbrae Bonny (Floral Pegasus) that the filly had died suddenly in June this year. He then performed his own autopsy on the horse and burned the carcass.

Judge Bowman said the misconduct charge was particularly serious as it dealt with the issue of the trainer and owner relationship.

The misconduct charge drew the ban and the false and misleading evidence charge, which arose from Bottomley's attempts to cover up the incident, resulted in the fine.

Quartet on Group 1 missions

Wayne Hillis has confirmed Group 1 targets for four representatives of his Matamata stable.

Livin’ On A Prayer (NZ) (Redwood {GB}) will be the first of the quartet to be tested when she takes aim at next month’s G1 Sistema Railway at Ellerslie and she will then run in the JR & N Berkett Telegraph at Trentham.

“She’s got a good record over 1200 metres,” he said. “She’s had six starts over the distance for three wins and two seconds.”

Livin' On A Prayer

A Group 2 winner, Watch This Space (NZ) (Elusive City {USA}) will be attempting to go one better in the G1 Thorndon Mile next month after finishing runner-up to Stolen Dance (NZ) (Alamosa {NZ}).

Bit Lippy (NZ) (Showcasing {GB}) has been set for the G1 Levin Classic at Trentham on January 12.

“He’ll run at Ellerslie on Boxing Day in a 3-year-old over 1400 metre then go to the Levin Classic,” Hillis said.

Bit Lippy, a Group Three-winning son of Showcasing, was sixth in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton after finishing fifth in the Gr.2 James and Annie Sarten Memorial (1400m).

Meanwhile, Imelda Mary (NZ) (Ferlax {NZ}) has the G2 Stella Artois Royal S. at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day as her main aim.

“She’ll run here at Matamata next start over 1600 metres and hopefully she won’t be a maiden after that,” Hillis said.

“She’s always looked like she needs ground and the Royal Stakes should be a good race for her. If she goes well in it we’ll press on for the Oaks.”

Mile entries open

Nominations are open for Victoria's new $5 million All-Star Mile at Flemington.

Connections have five weeks to enter their horses with 10 of the 14-horse field to then be decided by public vote.

The nominations close on January 15 with the race to be run on March 16.

After the popular vote is taken in to account, Racing Victoria will select the remaining four places.

The winner will earn connections $2.25 million with all starters gaining prize money down to $90,000 for the last placegetter.

In line with Racing Victoria's Group 1 entry conditions, horses must have an official handicap rating of 70 at the close of nominations to be eligible to compete as a fan-voted runner.

Entry costs $500, which RV will donate to charity, and there will be no acceptance fee.

"We're inviting owners and trainers to get in now, nominate their horse for the All Star Mile and start rallying their horse's fan base ahead of the opening of voting on January 21,” RV's executive general manager - racing, Greg Carpenter said.