“FIORENTE is just looking for further now,” the ‘First Lady of Racing’ declared after the Melbourne Cup winner dropped out to beat only two home in the G1 Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Forget about the much-hyped match race with IT’S A DUNDEEL (which finished third), Gai Waterhouse was more interested in declaring her disappointment that the Queen’s nag, Carlton House, had been run down on the line.

The big question is: “Did Liz go the early crow and toss the Royal Tiara in the air at the Palace?” We’ll probably never know but the scene is set for a consolation win in the race to be run in her name during The Championships.

Jokes aside, punters need to be a tough breed – seven of 25 favourites saluted on the east coast on Saturday.

Kiwi trainer Roger James summed up the result of the biggest race on both sides of the ditch when he declared: “It was supposed to be a race to decide the best horse in Australia. I don't know where that leaves Silent Achiever.”

I can answer that for you Rog. The mare is no more well thought on now by punters than before her $14 upset win in the Ranvet which blew most punters out of the water. For too long she has failed to deliver that big race win on OZ soil.

The only consolation was that we didn’t have to listen to the First Lady waffle on about winning a big race for that other First Lady in the Palace where no doubt the Corgies copped a right royal kick in the slats when Carlton House was nailed on the line.

Kerrin McEvoy was deflated after being run down on Carlton House  - arguably not half as much as Australia’s answer to Mrs Bouquet a la Bucket. “I have ridden a couple of winners for her Majesty but never in anything like a Group 1.”

Just what effect the private battle between Damien Oliver and James McDonald on the two star gallopers had on the result is debateable but it didn’t help the chances of either. But to suggest Fiorente went anything more than ordinary would be an understatement.

It was left to star youngster EARTHQUAKE and Doncaster hope MESSENE to salvage something from the Ranvet wreckage for punters betting on the Rosehill meeting.

For a stable owned by the Sheikh’s, who declared they don’t bet, the money that often arrives for Peter Snowden-trained winners is absolutely phenomenal. From the time the Fixed Odds betting opened on the Reisling Stakes they jumped out of trees to back Earthquake. The batting opened with a bet of $30,000.

The same couldn’t be side for stablemate GHIBELLINES, described by Snowden as a 'real knucklehead', which improved a furlong to win the Todman Stakes – but, as usual, that was put down to one of those things in racing. He had raced like a dromedary when favourite in the Black Opal one start earlier.

All bar Team Hawkes have declared the Slipper as good as over with Earthquake destined to run a very short priced favourite. Mossfun will be the main danger and trainer Michael Hawkes believes she can turn the tables in the big one.

“She went super. She did all the work (in the Reisling) and was only beaten three-quarters of a length by a superstar. It's grand final day is in two weeks and we will be there and the result might be different,” Hawkes said.

The Doncaster Mile has been a year in the planning for their new stable star, Messene, and now, a month out from the Randwick feature, he is favourite to win Australia's most famous mile race.

The Lonhro five-year-old has won his past seven starts, the latest was a demolition of the field in the Ajax Stakes on Saturday, where he looked the winner as far as 600m out from the finish line.

It capped a big day for Team Hawkes who also won with ENTIRELY PLATINUM (in the SKY HIGH) and TRAITOR (in the PHAR LAP STAKES) – how did the latter ever get beaten when plunged in that big Maiden at the Gold Coast on Millions day?

TRAINER Joe Pride was declaring he might get a tattoo to remember the G1 win by STEPS IN TIME in the Coolmore Classic. If he does the face of jockey Jim Cassidy should be included.

It never ceases to amaze me how well some of these top jockeys can ride in big races yet can produce such bad ones in run of the mill events. Cassidy was described as a ‘freak’ by rival Glen Boss after the Steps in Time ride and even attracted bouquets from Gai Waterhouse, who saddled up the runner-up Sweet Idea.  

“That was 20 years of experience that won that race,” Waterhouse said. “Take nothing away from the mare but that was Jim Cassidy.”

Cassidy was not sure what all the fuss was about after riding his 102nd Group 1 winner but his biggest fan TVN’s Richie Callander almost had to call for the Kimby’s.

Further south at Sandown it was Australia’s leading lady rider, Linda Meech, who stole the show winning the Listed feature of the day on OFFICE BEARER, the second string runner from the Peter Moody stable.

Luke Nolen was aboard the more highly fancied READY TO RIP which resumed with an eye-catching fourth but all honours were with the under-rated Office Bearer and Meech who refused to panic when caught wide and still bolted in, earning a probably Goodwood start in Adelaide.

Sandown is always a tricky track for punters but was nothing compared with the disgraceful surface served up for the final of the night racing season at Mooney Valley on Friday. Horses drawn to race on the fence had absolutely no chance which is simply not good enough for punters in this day and age.

UP in good old Brisbane when anything goes – and punters are light on the ground – there were more upsets with some massive improvements and colossal flops by favourites. They should be forced to brand racing in the north with ‘Punting on Queensland Racing is a Wealth Hazard’.  

STAR SAMMY should have won and arguably got the protest but would have arguably had a better chance of upstaging THE STOREMAN in the stewards’ room had Brad Stewart not been his jockey.

TERMS OF TRADE reportedly surprised even his owner winning the second. FRETON, a $21 chance, bounced back from a Sunshine Coast defeat to bolt in with the third. TYCOON RED, $12, dented a few reputations in the third. TIPS AND TALES, which had been struggling to win at the provincials and drew off the track, somehow managed to salute at $21 in the fifth. To nail punters to the wall SOME CALL HER WILD and BUAKAW then saluted at double figure odds.

THE ride of apprentice BROOKE RICHARDSON on the $71 chance RAEBURN which ran fourth when resuming behind TYPHOON RED is the subject of a stewards’ inquiry. One wonders if trainer B J Smith will follow the lead of his good mate Rob Heathcote after the recent Damien Browne inquiry and threaten to quit Queensland racing if Brooke cops a stretch.

From my armchair in front of the box – it’s more comfortable and I don’t have to rub shoulders with some of the low lifes who still frequent the track – here are a few runners worth following in the weeks ahead:





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