In a month dominated by Makybe Diva, Melbourne Cup Carnival and Melbourne Spring Racing, the Laurel Oak team also had some good performances.  The best was arguably by TEMPELHOF who resumed in a 1600m maiden at Stony Creek on Friday 4 November.


This 3yo colt had had a couple of false starts in getting to the races this preparation and in the end Peter Moody had him ready for a 1600m race first-up. 


He had finished a good third at Bendigo at his only previous start back in May over 1200m and this time around it was felt that staying would be his forte so the proposed first-up runs over 1200m and 1400m kept being put back until eventually he was ready to go racing and ready for 1600m.


Despite being a Stony Creek maiden and a small field it was a strong race which was reflected in the fact that Tempelhof was only fourth favourite.  The favourite, Carygranite, went on to run in the Sandown Guineas at his next start while the runner up, Londo, has since won his next start by four lengths.  The form of several of the contenders was strong and that is the way it panned out.


Tempelhof drew the outside of the field and was going to be trapped wide so jockey Luke Nolen pushed him forward to the lead.  As he came up the hill at the 900m he looked to be struggling and he had to push him along and again, on the point of the corner, he was once more placed under hard riding as the favourite Carygranite looked to be cruising when he peeled out from behind him.  However, to his credit, Tempelhof really knuckled down to it in the straight and ended up coming away to win the race by 2 ¼ lengths in what was a very impressive performance. 


Tempelhof, who is by Fusaichi Pegasus out of the good former Laurel Oak mare Berlin (hence his name as Tempelhof is Berlin’s airport), boasting a rich pedigree and is entitled to be a good horse.  He was passed in at the Easter yearling sale with a reserve of $200,000 on him with the highest bid received at $170,000.  Consequently, the fact that he was retained by the syndicate that bred him means that we do have high expectations.


Tempelhof is likely to have his next run at a VRC at Ballarat meeting on 23 November over 2000m.  We are hoping that he will develop into a Derby horse in the autumn or winter and indeed a Cups horse in the future.



TEXARCANA kept her Oaks dream alive for one more start by winning at Gosford on 16 October. 


After her last placing in the Group 1 Flight Stakes, VRC Oaks plans were put on hold but at Gosford we reverted to a 2100m maiden where the 3yo filly was giving age and sex to all her rivals and also had to contend with the outside gate.  Jockey Jay Ford snagged her back to last where she took a little while to settle and then with 800m to go, set her alight to go around the field.  She was fourth into the straight and fleetingly looked set for a comfortable win when she was challenged and appeared to be headed, however she fought back on the line to win by a short head, much to the jubilation of the large contingent of owners there.


It was a tough staying effort by Texarcana and it rekindled VRC Oaks plans.  But it also put plenty of pressure on the Gosford Racing Club’s hospitality as we filled their Winners’ Room with an overflow into the area outside the Jockeys’ Room and they just kept pouring champagne after champagne until all thirsts were quenched.  The champagne stocks needed to be reinforced and the Club was grateful that we only had one winner on the day.


With this win the decision was made to set Texarcana for the VRC Oaks and that proved to be an exciting build-up for her owners to have a runner in a Group One feature during Cup Week.  Alas, it proved to be a disappointment because she would not settle, over raced, and did not finish the race off giving the impression that she may well have had one run too many this preparation.  We came, we saw, but we certainly did not conquer at Flemington this year.  Texarcana has now gone for a well-earned spell and next preparation we will set our sights lower with her and aim to pick up the lucrative BOBS bonuses which she is both eligible for and capable of winning.



When BARRIDO debuted in a maiden at Sale on their Cup Day in late October one thing he did manage to do by running was to maintain a 100% record that we are quite proud of.  It meant that, of 37 horses that we have selected and/or recommended owners for over four seasons from our current 7yos down to our current 4yos, every one of them made it through to the races. 


With the comparatively small number of horses that we syndicate relative to the very large operations, one thing we have always been able to do is have a very high strike rate of success in both horses getting to the races, and then winning.  While a 100% record of racing is not permanently sustainable (and already Khoisan from our 3yo crop has retired unraced to break the perfect score) the fact that every horse selected over four seasons made it to the races is testimony both to the selection process that we adopt and the way our trainers handle the horses.


While Barrido missed the start and got into all sorts of trouble on this day, he did run again last Friday at Traralgon in what proved to be another good Friday afternoon result for the team.  From a seemingly impossible position on the home corner he flew home to just get second in a performance that showed that he clearly has ability.


His career has been delayed with niggly injuries and unfortunately the one that was a major cause for his debut being delayed has flared up again as a result of the race but is seemingly not serious and we hope that he can run at Bairnsdale on 29 November.  It has always been thought that soft tracks would be his forté so it is likely he will have one more run this preparation before a break and hopefully he can crack it for a win before going out.



LANG SUPREMACY maintained his consistent form without winning since his Queanbeyan maiden win and he was placed fourth at Moruya, third at Wagga and then third at Goulburn in what were several good runs before he went out for a short break after a preparation that re-established him as a racehorse.


GREEN LAGONDA was our star 2yo a year ago but his form deteriorated due to a niggling injury however his trackwork has suggested that he has come back better than ever and we were optimistic for his first-up run over 900m at the Gold Coast on VRC Derby Day.  After leading comfortably and looking home he ran out of puff in the last 30 or 40m and finished third.  However, the race was designed to replace a barrier trial and he earned prizemoney, which is better than he would have done in the barrier trial.  He was set to run again today (16 November) at Doomben but is a late scratching after pricking his hoof.


There is a group of horses set to resume starting from today (16 November) who have all either raced well before and all have trialled well this time around suggesting that they are for good preparations.  They include SOUL DIVA, PREROGATIVE, KLONDIKE KID, REGIMENTAL STAR, ANAMANOR, NEEDLEWORK, CUTTING IN, and PRIVATE DAN.



As I said in the opening paragraph, racing has been dominated by Makybe Diva, Melbourne Cup Week and Spring Racing.  Really, it has just been dominated by Makybe Diva whose status in racing was best summed up by Greg Miles calling when she hit the finishing line in the Melbourne Cup “. . . And the champion becomes a legend”. 


She has been in rare form this spring and for a while it looked like her win in a spectacular Cox Plate was going to be the pinnacle of her spring.  This was her target race and whether she was going to go for a third Melbourne Cup was an on again, off again affair. 


Ultimately, it certainly was on and it is now history that Makybe Diva has become the first horse to win three Melbourne Cups.


I have been an unabashed Makybe Diva fan for quite some time and had very good wins on her in the last two Melbourne Cups and in this year’s Cox Plate.  Alas, for this Melbourne Cup the accountant in me seemed to take over and the head ruled the heart.  No matter how good she is, a horse who has not been set for the Melbourne Cup, has not raced beyond 2000m this preparation, did not race on Derby Day and has to carry 58.5kg cannot win the Cup.  How wrong I was! The head ruled the heart.  The heart won!


I suspect that about half the crowd on Cup Day was on Makybe Diva while the other half wasn’t.  The fate of the other half who were not on her was sealed in a matter of strides at the 300m mark and the race was as good as over.  Realising the futility of their own prospects that half joined the Makybe Diva supporters by standing and cheering her home over the last 200m regardless of the fate of their own money.  The “unfaithful” were rightfully branded “heretics” and “Ye of little faith” by the faithful in the immediate post-race discussions.  She was absolutely awesome and about the only thing I got right in my usually accurate pre-Melbourne Cup issue of Grandstand View was that perhaps normal rules do not apply to Makybe Diva.  They certainly didn’t!


Our final five selections for the Cup were Railings, Eye Popper, Makybe Diva, Leica Falcon and Lachlan River in that order and while three of the five did come in the first five, the fact that my top two picks finished well back meant that this was nowhere near as financially rewarding a Melbourne Cup as some recent ones have been.  (That’s Louis-talk for a blackout.)


So Makybe Diva is now well and truly a legend and has retired at the top of her game.  We may never see a stayer as good as her again but we can be most thankful for some sensational memories.



Melbourne Cup Week has for some years been regarded as the biggest single sporting event in Australia in terms of attendance and economic impact.  It is no different at Laurel Oak because as Cup Week itself keeps growing so does our involvement in Cup Week in terms of coordinating events for clients.


This year we had a record number of 58 people in the Panorama Restaurant for Cup Week experiencing “Diva Fever” and in terms of economic impact on a grand scale our group was a tiny blimp on the horizon of Flemington during Cup Week yet the cheque we had to send the VRC for our miniscule involvement was $90,000!


As the crowd and the queues grow outside we are immune from the multitude in our Panorama Restaurant haven and we are also reminded on an annual basis that we have arguably the best view in racing anywhere in the world.  So many people go to Cup Week and do not see a horse yet we see every race from a phenomenal undercover view overlooking the Winning Post.


A new dimension in the Restaurant this year was the introduction of a Tipping Competition with simple 3-2-1 points for a selection in each race.  With an average of 50 people in on each day the prizes were extremely good here and it added another dimension of interest to the Cup Week race days.  The tipping competition involved some of our neighbouring tables as well as we have got to know many of the regulars over the years.  On one such table on Stakes Day one of the regulars scored a $44,000 Quadrella for a $300 outlay while the others on the table got the same quadrella for a half shared amongst five of them.  Some happy scenes from that table!  Two years ago one of our regular tourists got a $47,000 quadrella for a $40.50 outlay so with the huge pools that are available during Cup Week there are certainly some windfall results available if you can get the results right.


“After-Derby Day” at Mornington continues to grow as well.  We had close to 80 people at Tony’s After-Derby Stable Visit on Sunday morning including around 35 on a coach from Melbourne.  The majority kicked on to Mornington Races for the afternoon (just what we needed – another race meeting!) and in the past we have not returned to Tony Noonan’s for his traditional After Derby Barbie.  This year, however, we left the races earlier to return to Tony’s where three beasts on the spit were well under way and this was another huge event where our coach load joined many other family, friends and clients of Tony’s for a big night.  We left there after 8:30 to arrive back in Melbourne around 10pm, 14 hours after leaving for what has proved to be a very big but very enjoyable day.  Certainly one we need to pace ourselves for!


The stable visit itself went very well and the normal high quality Noonan hospitality was well appreciated and all the horses presented extremely well.


The Call of the Card on Cup Eve has become somewhat of a tradition over the last three years and is a very enjoyable lunch with a racing flavour as the early market for the Melbourne Cup is previewed.  On this occasion we had 27 at the Call of the Card, which was another record number.  The only disappointment was that the bookmakers traditionally bet overs at the Call of the Card and this time they seemed somewhat more conservative with their prices, although Makybe Diva fans certainly did better there than they did on the tote the next day.


The racing side during Cup Week was quieter than some of our recent years with Texarcana’s disappointing run in the VRC Oaks the only Cup Week action.  No doubt this will ebb and flow over the years as we do not have the volume of horses to be guaranteed Cup Week action every year but no doubt we will have more success in the future there.


It was another full-on but extremely enjoyable week and after about three days of getting over this year’s Cup Week I am already looking forward to next year’s.




A catch-up on a couple of months of alumni news where Laurel Oak blasts from the past have done well.  Former Laurel Oak-owned STRATEGIC PRINCE seems to be enjoying life in northern NSW and since resuming from a spell he has won at Taree, finished second at Grafton and then won at Port Macquarie last Friday.


CELTIC RISE, a mare that was bred by a Laurel Oak syndicate and sold as a yearling, scored another city win at Sandown at the end of September to take her record to four wins and four placings from 34 starts.  That Sandown win took her earnings above $100,000 as well and she is out of the former Laurel Oak mare, Born To Thrill.  She had two cracks at black type company at Moonee Valley and then at Flemington during Cup Week but with no joy.


Another blast from the past was Ziplicity, a filly that promised a lot but ended up disappointing when raced by Laurel Oak owners in the mid 1990’s.  She turned up as the dam of Ballyrogan, a winner at Casterton recently.  Further research shows that this horse has had ten starts for two wins and four placings.  She is Ziplicity’s second foal with the first not earning prizemoney from four starts.  Ziplicity has two other foals coming through so so far no great regret that we did not persevere with her as a broodmare!



This racing around the world report is extracted from Garry Robinson’s monthly Winform newsletter.  The local form guide is called Paris Form and is their equivalent of Sportsman and, while it is in French, Garry reported that anyone who does the form the Winform way could easily assess the chances. 


This was a Listed race day with two $100,000-plus races on the program and there were only 200 or 300 punters there.  Garry found out the hard way that you can’t place a trifecta with an operator – it has to be done on an ATM type machine.  The dividends are flashed at correct weight and then they disappear so only people with winning tickets actually find out what the dividends are unless you make a quick note of them.  Garry found using Winform logic and speed to his advantage and had a successful day.  The pools were very small (approximately 48,000 euro) and one contributing factor, he believes, is that only French residents are allowed to bet on the off-course pool (a strange rule!). 


The beer and sandwiches were cheap and Garry was able to get complimentary tickets being from Australia, and France-Galop who conducts the meeting would make complimentary tickets available to Australians except on major race days.  The dividends are declared for one euro but the minimum bet is two euros.  Garry said the operator was surprised to see the size of his bets at 20 euro (or about $40) at the time as most punters were only betting one tenth of that.  Garry also reported that it was the only place in Paris where he could not find anyone who spoke English.


So it seems that French racing is not firing, at least on non-major race days going by the level of interest in it.



And tonight, arguably the biggest football match to be played in Australia this year, hopefully the “heart” will defeat the “head” again, Makybe Diva-style, and Mother Oz will beat Uruguay to make the World Cup finals for the first time in 32 years!!



Promoting the Ownership of Thoroughbreds and the Enjoyment of Racing


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