Jockey Michael Hellyer enjoys his winning ride aboard Westover in The Queensland Times Maiden Plate at the Ipswich racetrack.
Jockey Michael Hellyer enjoys his winning ride aboard Westover in The Queensland Times Maiden Plate at the Ipswich racetrack. Rob Williams

Double joy at Ipswich racetrack



THE scene was set last Wednesday for a celebration prior to the five-month racing shutdown.

The long odds-on favourite in the first of the day was part owned by a number of Ipswich Turf Club committee men.

Chairman Wayne Patch, deputy chairman Brian North, committee man Trent Quinn and former treasurer Liam Tansey share in the ownership of Single Again, which is trained by Tony Gollan and which was ridden by apprentice Baylee Nothdurft. However it was second place for Single Again.

The winner was Westover with Micheal Hellyer aboard for Thangool trainer Jason Devine after making the 14 hour return trip with his galloper.

The barriers made the difference as the winner held the fence from gate two and Single Again worked hard from eight going a bit greenly and roughly around the single turn, after not being able to quite cross from the 800 metre start.

It was six-year-old mare Westover's first win at her 14th start. Three-year-old filly Single Again would be expected to be winning soon after her debut effort.

Magic moment keeps evolving

THE first Melbourne Cup was run in 1861.

While there have been many changes to the hospitality and entertainment options during the carnival, to horse racing and to Australian society over that time, Melbourne Cup Day is still a magical moment for many each year.

In the past couple of decades there have been changes off course such as a growth in animal welfare activists as evidenced at the entrance to the course for Saturday's Derby Day and the Melbourne Cup Parade yesterday, very different wagering options for the punter, extensive vision broadcasts of the racing, and the internationalisation of the great race.

Most of these changes to racing have resulted in fewer people in general actually attending race meetings although the Melbourne Cup Day itself continues to attract 100,000 people each year.

Additional hospitality packages and entertainment options have over the past few years been introduced by race clubs as attractions for racegoers, following the lead of Ipswich Cup Day over the past decade.

At Flemington on the track the big change has been the internationalisation of the Melbourne Cup.

The revolutionising of the race commenced with the late, great trainer Colin Hayes who decades ago revolutionised Australian racing by winning the Melbourne cup with imports Beldale Ball (1980), At Talaq (1986), and Jeune (1994).

Vintage Crop was the first to win the Melbourne Cup at his first race in Australia for Irish trainer Dermot Weld in 1993 and the same trainer returned to win the Geelong Cup/Melbourne Cup double in 2002 with Media Puzzle.

Winning northern hemisphere bred imports since have been Makybe Diva (2003/04/05) and Delta Blues (2006).

Moving on to the current decade the race has fully internationalised with only one domestically bred winner in the 100-1 shot Prince of Penzance in 2015.

Over this past decade the dominant trend of imports winning the Melbourne Cup after having at least one run in Australia have included Americain (2010), Dunaden (2011), Green Moon (2012), Fiorente (2013), Protectionist (2014), and Almandin (2016).

While imports have won the Melbourne Cup in the past two years the race has further evolved. That evolution is northern hemisphere three-year-olds who make the Melbourne Cup field in a European qualifier, come to Australia for one race and win with a lightweight of 51.5kg, despite being classified as a four year old in the Southern Hemisphere.

Rekindling and Cross Counter were the two gallopers to beat the handicapper who has this year added an extra kilogram of weight to gallopers of the same age and class.

The two entrants for the 2019 version in this age and class are Il Paradiso and Constantinople.

The latter is trained by David Hayes, his son Ben and son in law Tom Dabernig. David is son of Colin Hayes who was the frontrunner of Melbourne Cup imports 40 years ago.

Formerly trained in Ireland by champion trainer Aiden O'Brien, Constantinople has importantly had a run in the Caulfield Cup where an unlucky fourth evaded a weight penalty, and evidenced his acclimatisation to Australia.

If there is a question over Constantinople, it his ability to run out 3200 metres.

However his strength through the line in the Caulfield Cup indicates there is no question.

It is no wonder this impressive galloper is strongly favoured today and will carry the wagers of many, including mine.

Carnival winding up

THE Flemington Carnival continues on Oaks Day Thursday then Stakes Day Saturday to bring to a close the Spring Racing Carnival.

The only Australian Group 1 races remaining to be contested this year are the West Australian Railway Stakes, Kingston Town Stakes, and Winterbottom around late November/early December.