McDonald, O’Brien suffer Caulfield setbacks
Ecstasy turned to agony for Clinton McDonald when rising sprint star Diamond Effort's impressive Caulfield success was quickly followed by a three-month ban.
Racing Victoria stewards said the mare had bled from both nostrils after Ben Melham navigated an inspired passage to win the Lamaro's Hotel Handicap (1000m).
As McDonald contemplated a tilt at black-type spoils with Diamond Effort, vets detected blood in both of the mare's nostrils.
McDonald's disappointment was matched by that of Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Danny O'Brien, whose hopes of advancing Russian Camelot's South Australian Derby preparation were foiled by a barrier mishap.
The heavily backed favourite was withdrawn after the gates malfunctioned, causing the import to lose composure and rear.
"I've had better days," O'Brien said.
"The horse is fine. There's nothing wrong with him and he's not injured. But obviously when that happens, they pull them out. The barriers malfunctioned and Damien (Oliver) gave him a jam to jump and the gates didn't open.
"They decided on a manual start and by that time, the horse had had enough."
O'Brien will now find another race for Russian Camelot in Victoria before crossing the border for the SA Derby on May 9.
The race was won by Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott's The Lifeline, who was given a lovely ride by Dwayne Dunn.
McDonald contemplated a bright future for Diamond Effort, tipping a rise to Group success and emulating her brother Second Effort after her seventh win from 13 starts.
"She was probably in the worst part of the track the way it is racing at the moment, so it was really impressive," McDonald said.
"She's a really nice mare. Her brother became a group winner as a four-year-old and I think she can do the same.
"She'll go to the Bel Esprit Stakes in a fortnight over 1100m. Then we'll reassess and see where we are - whether we put her away and then come back in the spring. She's going well."
CHARGING BUFFALO SOMETHING TO BEHOLD
Thomas Stockdale is still in the infancy of his riding career but he's already certain of one thing - Buffalo River is the fastest horse he's ridden.
Burdened with 60kg from gate 12 over 1400m, Buffalo River toyed with the opposition to underline his quality - and Mike Moroney's confidence in the four-year-old - with a dominant win in the Jack Elliott Handicap.
"I was worried early when I didn't have enough speed to cross them and I had a lot of pressure inside me," Stockdale said.
"I was assured that the horse was fit so I got him in a nice rhythm throughout. We got a cheap sectional, if you'd like to call if that.
"I don't think I've ridden a faster horse than him."
Stockdale completed an excellent day with victory in the last on Salsamor, the gelding's fourth win in a row.
FILLY FREE TO DO AS SHE PLEASES
Forever Free and Jamie Kah combined seamlessly to hand punters a painless start to the day with a clinical win in the Robert Taranto Handicap (1100m)
A sister to Group 3-winning sprinter, the finely-built sprinter will be given the chance to mature steadily by trainers Mat Ellerton and Simon Zahra.
"We'll probably take it run-by-run with her. She's a slight filly," Ellerton said.
"She's taken her time to mature up, she's not very robust. We'll see how she is in the next few days.
"She's an immature filly so it is good to see her doing this now and the future looks bright with her."
Ellerton and Zahra produced a Caulfield double with Oasis Girl and quickly added to the haul at Werribee with River Mist.
River Mist is the first winning graduate from the stable's Yungaburra base near Kyneton
POY PROVES HE CAN GO THE DISTANCE
Michael Poy's penchant for judging staying races with rare precision is increasingly a focus. for punters.
His measured ride on Mirimar was a master class in awareness as he first made Inverloch work and then wore down the favourite late to snare the Geoff Murphy Handicap (2400m).
"I was confident. We have beaten Busuttin's horse (Inverloch) at Sandown prior," Poy said.
"We had a better turn-of-foot than it.
"With the swing in the weights going our way, it was always going to be hard for it to outsprint us."
ANOTHER WIN STOKES THE FIRE
Phillip Stokes believes Ancestry is capable of continuing his stunning win run in even better class after the after the gelding completed a hat-trick with an impressive win in Selangor Turf Club Handicap (1100m).
Adding to victories at Pakenham and The Valley, Ancestry posted his fourth win from five starts.
Handled perfectly by Ben Thompson, Ancestry ($7) defied a betting drift to win by 2¾ lengths from Knowles ($8.50), with Defiant Dancer ($11) a further 1-1/4 lengths away third.
"He's absolutely flying," Stokes said.
"We'll see how he pulls up but I think he's got better wins in store so we'll bring the bar up."
HIGH NOONAN, BUT HOPE REIGNS SUPREME
Jake Noonan took the riding honours at Werribee with a treble, but Tahlia Hope's return to the saddle caught Group 1-winning jockey Alf Matthews' eye.
"First ride back since 06/07/19 & 2000m to boot on a jumper. Great dedication to be so fit. Very proud of her and very underestimated," Matthews tweeted.
Originally published as McDonald, O'Brien suffer Caulfield setbacks