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Boss supremely confident on Irish Lights but Ryan backs Melito

THREE-TIME Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Glen Boss won’t hear of gun Victorian filly Irish Lights being beaten in Wednesday’s group 1 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield. But Sydney trainer Gerald Ryan warns not to drop off his star filly, Melito.Irish Lights is set to start a short-priced favourite and Ryan is at a loss to comprehend how Melito, a winner of the Furious Stakes before running second and fourth to More Joyous in the Tea Rose Stakes and Flight Stakes, has eased alarmingly to be at double-figure odds before today’s final field declaration and barrier draw.”I can’t believe we are out to as much as $15,” Ryan said yesterday.”Last month we were favourite for the race. Irish Lights has looked good winning in Melbourne, but Melito certainly hasn’t gone backwards.”She wasn’t suited on the wet track in the Flight Stakes, but she still ran well. The Thousand Guineas is a race we’ve been aiming her at after Sydney and I couldn’t be happier with her. She travelled to Melbourne last Tuesday and has settled in great. Corey Brown will ride her and there’s no reason she can’t win. A decent barrier would be nice though.”Boss has been on the David Hayes-trained Irish Lights in her two runs back from a spell with both resulting in strong-finishing victories. Resuming at Flemington, Irish Lights gunned down speedy filly Avenue, which trainer Peter Moody said was bound for the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington on Victoria Derby day after blitzing rivals at Caulfield at the weekend.”Irish Lights has always promised to be something special,” Boss said. ”At her first start in a race she ran second to Rostova and that filly was flying at the time. Irish Lights was right up high in the betting to win the Blue Diamond at one point but by the time that race came around she’d had enough, didn’t pull up the best.”Craig Williams had been on Irish Lights in those two runs, but Boss said he kept in contact with Hayes in an attempt to snare the ride. ”She looked the filly to me that was going to make a three-year-old,” he said. ”She’s by Fastnet Rock and I know about him having ridden him. I thought his progeny would make it as three-year-olds and she is going the right way. She is maturing all the time.”Boss said he thought Irish Lights was a deserving favourite in the Thousand Guineas as ”the form around her looks very strong”.”She’s beaten a class filly like Avenue on her merits and beat her easily,” he said. ”And the fillies she competed against in the Thousand Guineas Prelude are pretty much the same ones she’ll be racing against again on Wednesday.”She was dominant in that win and she’s going just as good now as she was then. I think she can win.”Randwick trainer Anthony Cummings will send around Flight Stakes runner-up Sister Madly in the Thousand Guineas with Blake Shinn to ride. ”She blundered on that wet track the other day and it cost her a bit of ground,” Cummings said yesterday. ”A return to a drier surface will suit her and the form around More Joyous looks good.”
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Alcopop the one to add a little fizz to carnival

Alcopop, from Victor Harbour in South Australia, is set to become the Aussie battler, not only against the overseas invaders but also Melbourne Cup giants Bart Cummings, Lloyd Williams and Lee Freedman. Broken in rounding up cattle and used as a polo pony, Alcopop, named in frustration after about 16 earlier submissions were knocked back, the gelding produced dazzling figures to take the Herbert Power Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday. “The last Melbourne Cup winner to come out of the Herbert Power was Rogan Josh, rating 113, but Alcopop produced 115,” reported Gary Crispe, who does the highly regarded Timeform ratings in Australia. His finishing sectionals were brilliant at the end of the 2400 metres, indicating a dash of freak. Breeder, part-owner and trainer Jake Stephens said the five-year-old might not run before the Big One and pointed out he had left improvement in Alcopop. “He has an astronomical power-to-weight ratio and while he is not a heavy horse, he puts in 110 per cent,” Stephens said. While millions are spent trying to find a Melbourne Cup winner, Alcopop is out of Iota Of Luck, a no-account mare, but has a Cup link being by Jeune. Alcopop also won at Morphettville on Melbourne Cup day last year. No doubt big-timers will be trying to jock the Mauritius-born Dom Tourneur off Alcopop. Stephens, though, is adamant Tourneur will retain the ride although the hoop has had more experience at outposts such as Marble Bar and Gascoyne Junction than Flemington. HAPPY VALLEY Perhaps they raced on vastly different tracks but Alcopop in the Herbert Power on good to firm ground was equally as impressive as Speed Gifted’s overwhelming Metropolitan effort in the Randwick slop the previous Saturday. Alcopop had won the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley but Valley form is treated with caution. Still, Avenue’s blitz at Caulfield on Saturday confirmed credentials established previously at the Valley. Incidentally, Lee Freedman, trainer of Speed Gifted, mentioned at Caulfield that his advice from Britain regarding Speed Gifted was that he didn’t handle the wet. PAYNE GAIN The Michelle Payne touch was justifiably acclaimed for her effort on Allez Wonder in the Toorak at Caulfield on Saturday. While hard-luck stories abounded and a bunched finish made the form suspect, that special gene that makes the Payne family fine horse-people and honed to perfection by their youngest came to the fore. And on Saturday at Rosehill another example of it came to light. God’s Hand, which attacks the winning post like an acrophobic approaches the Gap, was given every chance by Brenton Avdulla but wouldn’t hit the line. The last time God’s Hand scored, his first success for more than a year, was under Michelle Payne in February after which four others have attempted to get the same result without any joy. PROTEST WORRY Victoria has gone soft on the new whip rules but the possibility a protest by rival connections can be upheld is very much alive. Following the edict by Russell Lewis, chairman of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board, that penalties concerning the whip debacle were “manifestly excessive”, the chief steward down south, Terry Bailey, said the national guidelines would be hard to enforce. Little action was seen on the whip front at Caulfield on Saturday but Ray Murrihy, the Racing NSW chief stipe, continued his vigilance at Rosehill. Murrihy doesn’t like the protest rule but is bound to enforce it. But he’s aghast at the Victorian soft-penalty policy, pointing out on the ABC’s News Radio Weekend Half-Time at the Races yesterday, that the only reason the win-at-all-costs attitude has been tempered in the Golden Slipper is because of harsh fines and penalties. HORSE TO FOLLOW Apache Cat showed that the horsepower of his prime hasn’t diminished when runner-up to the record-breaking Lucky Secret in the Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday. Obviously the 1000 metres was too short but looking at him before the race, Apache Cat still had scope for improvement. DISAPPOINTING The highly rated Trusting , lacking anything like his normal finish, failed in Saturday’s Caulfield Guineas. Perhaps he was lame after cooling down but jockey Craig Williams reckoned he couldn’t feel anything amiss when he pulled up after the race. WINNERS & LOSERS ‘I was getting very much to the point that I was going to end up in a hole.’Jockey Dom Tourneur, rider of Alcopop, which triumphed in the Herbert Power at Caulfield on Saturday, recalling when his life ran off the rails.
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Ollie keeps his head at the crucial moment

The serious part of the spring carnival started pretty much as everyone expected. There were some messy scenes in the tunnel that leads from the track to Caulfield’s corporate marquees – known here as The Vomitorium – and Whobegotyou won the Yalumba Stakes.Impressively enough to stamp him a clear-cut Cox Plate favourite? It depended whether you thought Damien Oliver’s brilliant thread-the-needle ride had flattered the four-year-old cult figure or merely enhanced his not quite imposing three-quarters-of-a-length victory.But as the connections of runner-up Heart Of Dreams and third-placed Vision And Power made it known Whobegotyou would be easier to hunt down than he is to pronounce at Moonee Valley, trainer Mark Kavanagh could enjoy the warm glow that comes with having a horse which will have the chance to prove he is either very good or an out-and-out champion.”It’s great to have a headline act,” said Kavanagh, who once seemed likely to be remembered as the trainer who endured that harrowing Caulfield Cup when the bloodied Maldivian returned to the mounting yard after being injured in the barriers. Two years later, with Maldivian to run in this week’s Caulfield Cup before trying for back-to-back Cox Plates against his stablemate, that day seems a distant memory.If Kavanagh and Whobegotyou moved towards the elite, Oliver’s ride would set the trend for a day that would be as much about the riders as the horses. And not, as the confusing pre-spring arguments had suggested, the number of times they flogged a live horse.Oliver’s 2000th victory – his first was on Mr Gudbud at Bunbury in 1988 – was about nerve, not sheer force. ”I took a punt,” he said of his decision to wait for the shaft of light that finally appeared. ”Sometimes you’ve got to put your head on the chopping block and hope the guillotine doesn’t come down.”With his 86th group 1 trophy on the mantlepiece, Oliver knows better than most how to keep his head. Michelle Payne, the youngest of 10 children and the eighth jockey from a legendary Ballarat racing family, has not had many opportunities to show she could avoid the sharpest blade.Her moment of truth would come as Allez Wonder turned for home in the Toorak Handicap with momentum, and the exquisite timing of Bart Cummings, on her side. About 400 metres later, Payne had coasted to her first group 1 victory, enjoyed the prospect of riding a genuine Caulfield Cup contender and would be the subject of the funniest line of the spring so far.”She’s a pretty little thing and she rides all right,” said the 81-year-old Cummings when asked about Payne’s performance.From anyone else’s lips, that might have inspired the feminist version of the blackface skit outrage. But given Cummings trained the winner of the same race in 1966, he enjoys the same leeway with politically incorrect language that senior citizens get with tricky gadgets and highway speed limits.For those who did not see Allez Wonder’s blistering midweek gallop – the type of gallop you hear about only after a $41 shot has won – Cummings’s big moment was supposed to have been in the Caulfield Guineas with So You Think, alongside fellow Sydney stars Denman and Manhattan Rain.Instead, as jubilant connections turned the mounting yard into a post-race mosh pit, Starspangledbanner, trained by Cummings’s long-time foreman Leon Corstens, did more than Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize to restore America’s international reputation.Starspangledbanner’s victory was a defining moment for the long-overshadowed Corstens, who backed himself to get a horse that had been misfiring ready to take on the nation’s best three year-olds. It was also a nice earner – from both the $600,000 prizemoney and the now greatly enhanced stud value – for the many, including Makybe Diva’s renowned owner Tony Santic, who own anything from a hoof to a strand of mane.The jockey was again at the centre of the story, although Danny Nikolic, who is re-establishing himself after a stint in Mauritius, was lost in a heaving pile of celebrating owners.Which might have brought an eventful day to a riotous conclusion. But then came a barnstorming run in the Herbert Power Handicap of a Melbourne Cup bolter, Alcopop, which was ridden by a once down-and-out bush jockey with a name (Dom Tourneur) like a more affordable version of the French bubbly and owned and bred and trained by restaurateur Jake Stephens.It shapes as the perfect story for the first Tuesday in November.And, as you made your way back past the Vomitorium, Alcopop might also be the first missed omen of a taxing month.
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Oliver closes in on another cup triumph

HALL of Fame jockey Damien Oliver is warming to his chances of winning a record-equalling fifth Caulfield Cup on Saturday to match the legendary Scobie Breasley.Oliver will ride the Luca Cumani-trained English raider Cima De Triomphe and after partnering the grey in a workout at Sandown last Friday he has no doubts the horse has the talent to give the $2.5 million race a shake. ”He is quite an impressive horse,” he said.Oliver was taken by the win of the Jake Stephens-trained South Australian stayer Alcopop in the Herbert Power Stakes at the weekend and was relieved to hear the horse was not in the Caulfield Cup.”That makes everyone else’s job easier,” he said. ”It is lucky Alcopop is not in the race, he is the horse on the up and he keeps doing everything right.”Oliver has had an association with Cumani over the past two spring carnivals. He rode Purple Moon to a second placing behind Efficient in the 2007 Melbourne Cup for the trainer and then rode Mad Rush for the stable in last year’s Caulfield and Melbourne cups. Cumani also brought over Bauer last year with that horse winning the Geelong Cup before a close second to Viewed in the Melbourne Cup.”Luca is a great trainer and he knows what type of horses to bring over for the cups,” Oliver said.Cima De Triomphe was a winner of the Gerard Stakes at Sandown earlier this year and since then he has finished fourth to the world’s best thoroughbred, Sea The Stars, in the Coral Eclipse before another fourth, in the Arlington Million.Bart Cummings will have two runners in the Caulfield Cup with Toorak Handicap winner Allez Wonder to be joined in the race by Viewed. Michelle Payne, who scored her first group 1 win when partnering Allez Wonder in the Toorak, sticks with the mare while Viewed will be ridden by Brad Rawiller.”She [Payne] said she can make the light weight in the Caulfield Cup so she can have the ride again,” said Cummings, who after the Toorak win said Payne was a ”pretty little thing and she rides very well”.Allez Wonder is striving to be the first horse since Cole Diesel in 1989 to complete the Toorak-Caulfield Cup double.Cummings is favouring missing the Caulfield Cup with his AJC Australian Derby winner Roman Emperor to instead have a crack at the Cox Plate the following weekend. The trainer said he would chase another group 1 at Caulfield on Wednesday when Faint Perfume contested the Thousand Guineas with Michael Rodd in the saddle.Cummings’s son, Anthony, will saddle up Red Lord and Zavite in the Caulfield Cup while Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien will have two starters with 2007 winner Master O’Reilly backing up after a fourth in the Yalumba Stakes at the weekend. Former pre-post favourite Vigor will also run for O’Brien.”He was just not quite quick enough over the 2000 metres on Saturday but he’s starting to look well,” O’Brien said of Master O’Reilly. ”His coat is about to come and he’ll really relish the 2400 metres [of the Caulfield Cup]. Vigor pulled up well from his Turnbull run and with the weight drop [to 51kg] I’d expect him to be right at his top on Saturday.”Craig Williams has been booked to ride Vigor but he must successfully appeal a careless riding suspension in Melbourne this morning to be able to fulfil the engagement. Corey Brown and Glen Boss are in the running to take over should his appeal fail.Meanwhile, trainer Lee Freedman is still yet to decide if he will start favourite and The Metropolitan winner Speed Gifted in the Caulfield Cup or instead wait and try to secure a run in the Cox Plate as he pushes towards the Melbourne Cup.Speed Gifted has won three of his four starts since joining Freedman’s stables from Britain. He was penalised 2kg for the Caulfield and Melbourne cups after his The Metropolitan success and a win in the Caulfield Cup would attract another penalty for the Melbourne Cup.
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Boss supremely confident on Irish Lights but Ryan backs Melito

THREE-TIME Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Glen Boss won’t hear of gun Victorian filly Irish Lights being beaten in Wednesday’s group 1 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield. But Sydney trainer Gerald Ryan warns not to drop off his star filly, Melito.Irish Lights is set to start a short-priced favourite and Ryan is at a loss to comprehend how Melito, a winner of the Furious Stakes before running second and fourth to More Joyous in the Tea Rose Stakes and Flight Stakes, has eased alarmingly to be at double-figure odds before today’s final field declaration and barrier draw.”I can’t believe we are out to as much as $15,” Ryan said yesterday.”Last month we were favourite for the race. Irish Lights has looked good winning in Melbourne, but Melito certainly hasn’t gone backwards.”She wasn’t suited on the wet track in the Flight Stakes, but she still ran well. The Thousand Guineas is a race we’ve been aiming her at after Sydney and I couldn’t be happier with her. She travelled to Melbourne last Tuesday and has settled in great. Corey Brown will ride her and there’s no reason she can’t win. A decent barrier would be nice though.”Boss has been on the David Hayes-trained Irish Lights in her two runs back from a spell with both resulting in strong-finishing victories. Resuming at Flemington, Irish Lights gunned down speedy filly Avenue, which trainer Peter Moody said was bound for the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington on Victoria Derby day after blitzing rivals at Caulfield at the weekend.”Irish Lights has always promised to be something special,” Boss said. ”At her first start in a race she ran second to Rostova and that filly was flying at the time. Irish Lights was right up high in the betting to win the Blue Diamond at one point but by the time that race came around she’d had enough, didn’t pull up the best.”Craig Williams had been on Irish Lights in those two runs, but Boss said he kept in contact with Hayes in an attempt to snare the ride. ”She looked the filly to me that was going to make a three-year-old,” he said. ”She’s by Fastnet Rock and I know about him having ridden him. I thought his progeny would make it as three-year-olds and she is going the right way. She is maturing all the time.”Boss said he thought Irish Lights was a deserving favourite in the Thousand Guineas as ”the form around her looks very strong”.”She’s beaten a class filly like Avenue on her merits and beat her easily,” he said. ”And the fillies she competed against in the Thousand Guineas Prelude are pretty much the same ones she’ll be racing against again on Wednesday.”She was dominant in that win and she’s going just as good now as she was then. I think she can win.”Randwick trainer Anthony Cummings will send around Flight Stakes runner-up Sister Madly in the Thousand Guineas with Blake Shinn to ride. ”She blundered on that wet track the other day and it cost her a bit of ground,” Cummings said yesterday. ”A return to a drier surface will suit her and the form around More Joyous looks good.”
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