Stars primed for spectacular spring campaign

Ready to rock: Star filly Libertini. Picture: Yarraman Park Stud.
Ready to rock: Star filly Libertini. Picture: Yarraman Park Stud.

Off The Beaten Track

Spring racing gets serious next Saturday with the season's first Group 1 contest - the Winx Stakes - to be staged at Randwick.

Chris Waller will have a strong hand in the 1400 metres feature and stablemates Unforgotten, Youngstar and Kings Will Dream all trialled on Saturday with Youngstar edging Kings Will Dream at the end of 1000m.

Most impressive in the exhibition trials at Randwick was the Anthony Cummings-prepared Libertini. She worked with the immensely talented, Group 1 JJ Atkins winner and Golden Rose-bound Prince Fawaz.

On Winx Stakes Day, Libertini will step out in the Group 2 Silver Shadow Stakes over 1200m.

Following the trial, jockey Tommy Berry told Racing NSW: "She felt as good as she looked. She is very sharp and is ready to go. That was a nice pipe opener and she pulled up well in the wind so very excited about next week."

Prince Fawaz will make his spring debut on September in the Run To The Rose over 1200m. The colt, while beaten by Libertini in a tight finish, pleased his trainer.

"They worked where they are up to and their normal style, Libertini always like to show off and she gets keen and we spend most of our time trying to get her to tuck in behind, settle, switch off and use herself when asked," Cummings said.

"Prince Fawaz just does nothing until you ask him. I asked Nash [Rawiller] to give him one down the shoulder at the furlong to get him to pick up and hit the line which he did. On the line he was coming back strongly. Both looked really well and are certainly on track for the plans we have for them."

Twelve months back, Winx stretched her Australian record of wins to 26 in the race named in her honour. Winx retired with an amazing 37 wins of 43 starts, including 25 victories at Group I level and more than $26 million banked.

Her name is now that of a legend and she will be mated with champion sire I Am Invincible this spring.

Going places: Bivouac was supreme at Caulfield. Picture: Godolphin.

Going places: Bivouac was supreme at Caulfield. Picture: Godolphin.

Pandemic's stunning final surge

Across the country, there were 23 gallop meetings conducted with more than half (12) held in Queensland, yet it seemed like a royal blue procession when, at Kembla, Landstrasse sailed home just 20 minutes after Pandemic's emphatic win on the Kensington track.

Before the bubbles had expired in champagne glasses at Royal Randwick, Bivouac blew his rivals away in the Group 3 Vain Stakes at Caulfield then Magic Millons winner Exhilarates snared the Quizette Stakes at the same venue, with stablemate Pin Sec (third) and Lyre (fourth) performing admirably.

The Down Under picture is in focus and bright for Godolphin yet the global results are less imposing. In the six days before Bivouac and co dazzled, Godolphin had 30 starters for four winners.

It's hardly panic stations and their equine empire is vast but the numbers show it's not plain sailing.

35 years on ...

What transpires on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington is this country's red letter day in racing - Melbourne Cup Day.

Certainly not celebrated and hardly eponymous is August 18 - Fine Cotton Day.

On Saturday August 18, 1994 the racing world was on spin-cycle after the Hayden Haitana-trained Fine Cotton was substituted with the far better performed Bold Personality in the 1550 metres Commerce Novice Handicap at Eagle Farm.

The Queensland Turf Club banned former bloodstock agent John Gillespie, Haitana, Robert North, Tommaso Di Luzio and John Dixon for life. Gillespie and Haitana also served jail terms.

Also implicated were bookmakers Bill and Robbie Waterhouse. Both men had bans overturned in 1998.

In November 2013, Haitana's lifetime ban was lifted.

Fine Cotton died in February 2009, aged 32.

Season one of the Suburban Gangsters series on Nine delved into the Fine Cotton ring-in and the alleged involvement of former SP bookie George Freeman.

It's compelling viewing and a chilling reminder of what is now 35 years past.

Freeman died in March 1990, just two years after his autobiography was published.

Siena's Palio de Senia - the epitome of rough and tumble

Those attending Randwick on Winx Day will spy some quality equine action but it certainly will pale by comparison to the hustle and bustle offered in Siena, Italy on Friday.

The Palio di Siena was conducted in the town's central plaza for the first time in the 17th century with 10 contrada racing bareback and there seems to no restriction on tactics.

In fact, tactics are devised to prevent rival contrade from winning the three-lap event which lasts only 90 seconds.

The passion is palpable, the atmosphere electric.

Queensland Derby fall remains unexplained

Queensland's chief steward Peter Chadwick admits he is becoming frustrated in his attempts to finalise an inquiry into the Queensland Derby fall more than two months ago.

Dual Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Corey Brown suffered serious injuries when Lord Arthur fell at the 300m mark in the Derby at Eagle Farm on June 8 won so impressively by Mr Quickie.

Brown suffered injuries to his spine, ribs and lungs and will be out of the saddle for at least another 12 months.

New Zealand-trained Lord Arthur was euthanised on the day.

An inquiry was opened with evidence taken from several jockeys and then adjourned until a time when Brown was fit to attend.

Brown and fellow jockeys Tommy Berry, Matt McGillivray and Tim Clark are expected to give evidence at the resumed inquiry.

Group 1: Queensland Derby winner Mr Quickie. Picture: YouTube

Group 1: Queensland Derby winner Mr Quickie. Picture: YouTube

There has been a delay with getting all four jockeys together at the one time.

Chadwick said stewards were obviously keen to resolve the issues around the fall but had hit numerous hurdles.

"The best way to describe it is a logistical nightmare but we are determined to get it done," he said.

With AAP

Drama yet to be disclosed at Dubbo

While there is no stewards' report on the Racing NSW website, it will be interesting to see what circumstances surround the sad passing of a horse which broke loose in the tie-up stalls at Dubbo on Friday.

The tragedy, an accident, is said to have occurred following the horse's racing commitment but is as yet unconfirmed. More to come.