A Look Back at Spring Racing Carnival 2018 and What we can Expect in 2019

The 2018 Spring Racing Carnival delivered an onslaught of gripping battles between some of the world’s finest sprinters and stayers. The wonder mare Winx loomed large over proceedings as she seized a record-breaking fourth consecutive Cox Plate and generally dazzled with her brilliance. But there were plenty more intriguing storylines developing throughout the spring, as Godolphin finally seized the Melbourne Cup, Extra Brut delivered a Champagne performance in the Victoria Derby and some plucky roughies saluted in big races. The 2018 Spring Racing Carnival had it all and, with the 2019 showpiece looming large on the horizon, now is a good time to recap the action and look ahead to future battles.

The biggest races are packed into October and November, but the Spring Racing Carnival began in earnest with the prestigious Memsie Stakes meeting on September 1. Record-breaking trainer Darren Weir claimed early bragging rights when $21 outsider Humidor landed the Group 1 race and the bulk of the $1 million prize purse. It was a strong performance from Weir’s most potent weight-for-age challenger as he edged Godolphin runner Kementari by a short head in a thrilling finale. The following week, Magic Consol seized the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes and Nature Strip set a new 1000m record at The Valley.

Grunt won the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes in mid-September, Smart Melody maintained her unbeaten streak with victory in the Cap D’Antibes Stakes and Godolphin colt Encryption saluted in the Danehill Stakes. Godolphin’s British trainer, Charlie Appleby, won the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes when imported galloper Jungle Cat delivered a fine performance. On the eve of the AFL Grand Final, Vidorra produced a fantastic charge to win the Group 1 Moir Stakes, a race that saw Nature Strip fall out of the running for The Everest due to his unplaced finish.

Then the action really ramped up in October. Winx then stepped back into the spotlight by winning the Turnbull Stakes to extend her superb winning streak to 28 races. Chris Waller’s The Autumn Sun annihilated some of the best three-year-olds in the business to claim victory in the $2 million Caulfield Guineas. It totally justified his status as the $1.75 favourite and marked him out as a future great. Godolphin earned a second Caulfield Cup as Best Solution held on in a thrilling finish to edge out Homesman and Thecliffsofmoher in the $5 million race.

Winx was the star of the show once again at the Cox Plate. She displayed a customary surge of pace to see off the threat posed Benbatl and Humidor, and the crowd roared as she won the race for a record-breaking fourth time. It was her 29th consecutive victory and her 22nd Group 1 win, which set another world record. The result assured trainer Chris Waller and jockey Hugh Bowman of their places in Australian racing folklore, but Winx was the star.

The Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby was inaugurated all the way back in 1855 and it continues to deliver exhilarating entertainment to this day. The 2018 renewal saw a first ever victory for Weir as Extra Brut finished a length clear of the fast finishing Stars Of Carrum. It saw Irish jockey Johnny Allen rise to prominence and he followed it up when winning the $2 million Group 1 Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes on outsider Trap For Fools the following Saturday. It turned out to be a breakout season for Allen and big things are expected of him in future.

Godolphin finally landed the Melbourne Cup and the winner came from the stable of Charlie Appleby in Britain rather than James Cummings or Saeed bin Suroor. Cross Counter was the least experienced horse in the field and he drew a wide barrier in 19, yet he delivered a phenomenal performance to storm home from the back of the field. It was the first time a British-trained horse had ever won Australia’s most famous race, while British runners Marmelo and A Prince Of Arran finished second and third respectively in a strong result for raiders.

The season was also notable for the feats achieved by Sarah Zschoke and five-year-old gelding Eduardo, who destroyed his rivals in the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint. Aristia secured an eye-catching victory in the Kennedy Oaks. There were upsets galore, record-breaking runs and thrilling battles throughout the Spring Racing Carnival, and the 2019 showpiece promises to be just as exciting.

It will be the first time that Winx does not dominate the limelight, as she retired in April after extending her winning streak to 33 races in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. That included 25 Group 1 triumphs and she racked up more prize money than any other horse in history. Yet the era of Winx is now over and it is time for new legends to earn their stripes. We should finally be in for a competitive Cox Plate, while it will be thrilling to see if Australian stayers can battle back against the British and Irish raiders in the Melbourne Cup. Prize money is now up to $8 million for the race that stops a nation and it will be interesting to see who makes the final cut.

We can all look forward to the Memsie Stakes at Caulfield on August 31 and the action comes in thick and fast from there. The Makybe Diva Stakes is on September 14 and the Golden Rose is the following weekend, ensuring plenty of excitement that month, with some superstars vying for glory, which you can see here. As always, the Caulfield Guineas will take place on the second Saturday in October, sandwiched in between the Turnbull Stakes and the Caulfield Cup. The Manikato Stakes will whip up interest in punters on October 25 ahead of the Cox Plate the following day. The Victoria Derby is on November 2 at Flemington and the Melbourne Cup takes place the following Tuesday. By that time, new champions will have been crowned, and it will be interesting to see if the likes of Eduardo and Extra Brut can secure further success in 2019.

You may also like

Leave a Reply