WINNING REFLECTIONS: Apprentice jockey Matt McGuren returns to the Ipswich enclosure after his win on Madame Bookworm.
WINNING REFLECTIONS: Apprentice jockey Matt McGuren returns to the Ipswich enclosure after his win on Madame Bookworm. David Nielsen

McGuren adds to a great chapter with Madame Bookworm

BOOM apprentice Matt McGuren rode his sixth Ipswich winner for the current season last Friday.

In the process, he gave Madame Bookworm her second consecutive win at Ipswich.

After placing at each of her first three career starts at other tracks, the Lindsay Gough-trained Madame Bookworm won her maiden at Ipswich in September, prior to her second win last Friday.

An absence of rain in the past month, combined with the refurbishment of the track in March, are two factors that have led to faster times in general being recorded recently at Ipswich.

The refurbishment of the track in the autumn resolved the issue of an uneven surface. But the turf has not been able through the winter to grow to as lush a level as it was previously, hence giving less of a cushion underfoot, resulting in faster times being run.

While some gallopers such as Madame Bookworm prefer a firmer surface, faster times result in a number of trainers requesting clubs to more heavily irrigate tracks. This is something that is happening in Melbourne as well.

The Ipswich Turf Club is confident that the summer season, combined with three weeks off racing after Christmas, will see the surface restored to that of 12 months ago.


Byrne's treble

CURRENT Ipswich premier jockey Jim Byrne continued a terrific recent run of form as he rode a treble of winners last Friday.

Byrne moved to nine wins. He helped trainer Bryan Guy to a double of wins aboard Polynikes and Tartan Warrior. Byrne also won on Tony Gollan's Kodo.

That win gave Gollan a double after Tegan Harrison earlier guided home Pantalettes for the same stable.

There were winning doubles also for trainer Barry Baldwin and jockey Chris Munce who combined to win with No Magic Needed and Great Inagua.


Cups contests

THE Victorian Spring Racing Carnival moves to the first of the big Cups races this weekend.

The 2014 version of the Caulfield Cup will be played out on Saturday.

This is followed by the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley next weekend prior to a week of racing at Flemington, which includes the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, November 4.

It is not as if the spring has been devoid of exciting racing.

A look at last Saturday's Caulfield meeting proves that.

There were four Group 1 races - the top level of racing in the world.

Winners of these events were Fawkner in the Caulfield Stakes, Shooting to Win (Caulfield Guineas), Amicus (Thousand Guineas) and the emerging Trust In a Gust (Toorak Handicap).

In Sydney, it was Hampton Court who won the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes - the last Group 1 for 2014 in that city.

The spotlight is firmly on Melbourne over the next three weeks as the famous and time honoured races again draw hundreds of thousands of patrons and the best of gallopers from around the world.

The weekend's results caused a shake-up of Melbourne Cup markets.

Visiting German galloper The Protectionist was the big mover, firming to equal favouritism for the Melbourne Cup after a slashing run into fourth with a big weight in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes.

It was the first unplaced run of the galloper's career of eight starts, which include four wins. The run caught the eye of many as he firmed to $10 for the Cup.

Highly-rated Japanese horses Admire Rakti ($10) and Bande ($11) continue to be well supported as is Lucia Valentina ($11), Who Shot TheBarman ($13), and The Offer ($14).

Apart from The Protectionist, all of these gallopers this weekend contest the Caulfield Cup in which Lucia Valentina is $4.80 favourite. This race is sure to have a further impact on Melbourne Cup markets, especially in relation to the highly-rated Japanese horses who have their first start in Australia.

After his win in the Caulfield Stakes, seven-year-old Fawkner is $3.80 favourite for the Cox Plate as he aims to add another Group 1 success to the Caulfield Cup of 2013 and his victory last weekend.

Fawkner has won and placed at Moonee Valley, including a third to Black Caviar in the William Reid at his only autumn start in 2013, prior to returning to target the Caulfield Cup in the spring.

It has been a similar pattern this year with only one autumn start in the William Reid again prior to targeting the Cox Plate while picking up the Caulfield Stakes along the way.


Wednesday meetings

AFTER the Labour Day Monday meeting followed by last Friday's program, there are now five consecutive Wednesday race meetings at Ipswich from tomorrow.

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