Crown Oaks Day Shines Through The Rain
A month’s worth of rain in an hour couldn’t dampen the spirit of the 57,560-strong crowd at Flemington on Thursday as star filly Jameka delivered Ciaron Maher back-to-back victories in the Group 1 Crown Oaks, and yet another feature race for Damien Oliver.
VRC Chief Executive Simon Love said the racing was as thrilling as the day was wet.
“Only once since Vintage Crop won the Melbourne Cup in 1993 has this much rain fallen on Flemington on a Melbourne Cup Carnival raceday. And it was a vintage edition of the Crown Oaks, and we congratulate Ciaron, Damien and all connections on their win,” Mr Love said.
“More than the entire Melbourne rainfall for October fell at Flemington in under one hour. Fortunately, the forecast is much kinder with sunshine expected for Saturday’s Emirates Stakes Day,” Mr Love said.
In total, 34mm of rain fell on Flemington, including 16mm in less than an hour when a storm front hit Melbourne. In contrast, 12.2mm of rain was registered in Melbourne during the 31 days of October. Racing was delayed for 20 minutes as the front passed, but Flemington avoided the funnel clouds sighted at Tullamarine and St Albans that sparked a tornado warning.
The curtain closed on the 36-year riding career of 52-year-old Jim Cassidy, who was presented with 1983 and 1997 vintages of Penfolds Grange by VRC Chairman Michael Burn, representing the years of his Melbourne Cup wins on Kiwi and Might and Power.
Cassidy wasn’t given the opportunity to build on his 104 Group 1 wins, after his mount Dawnie Perfect was scratched from the Crown Oaks.
“Jim goes out with a stellar record. Only three other jockeys have notched 100 Group 1s. We wish him well in his life after racing,” Mr Love said.
The quality undercard saw Secret Agenda secure the Group 3 Gucci Stakes for Mick Price, with Oliver saluting for the third consecutive year in the race. The Group 3 G.H. Mumm Stakes went to Pittsburgh Flyer, with star hoop James McDonald combining with trainers Lee and Shannon Hope.
The Myer Fashions on the Field Women’s Racewear competition culminated with Victorian winner Emily Hunter reigning supreme, going on to win the National Final. Her navy spot jacquard and pink lined full skirted ensemble, made by her mother, and lace and leather headpiece, scored Emily the major prize, which included a Lexus IS 200t F Sport. Whitney Berry, widow of jockey Nathan Berry and daughter and sister to jockeys Glyn and Chad Schofield, respectively, was runner up.
Cynthia Jones-Bryson was crowned queen of the hats, winning the invitation-only Millinery Award with her elaborate red, black and orange design inspired by fireworks.
The popular Birdcage played host to an array of local and international celebrities including Hollywood star Kevin Dillon at Swisse, Brody Jenner at Mumm, British expatriate Aston Merrygold at Emirates and radio personality Fifi Box at the Southern Cross Austereo marquee.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival concludes on Saturday with Emirates Stakes Day, the Carnival’s traditional family day featuring two Group 1s – the Emirates Stakes and the Darley Classic.
Entry to Emirates Stakes Day is free for children under 16 with an adult and tickets are still available for purchase from Flinders Street, Southern Cross and North Melbourne train stations or racegoers can jump the queues and buy online from Ticketek on their mobiles, even on raceday.