Gai’s Blog 14-02-2013

The following is Gai Waterhouse’s latest blog (including tips on her runners for Saturday).

What a day Lea, Astrid Woods and I had at Mornington yesterday. No, we didn’t come away with the cash or the cup, but it certainly was a great day out at the races. The owners of old Reuben Percival and Travolta all turned up in Mornington for this wonderful day of summer racing. And what a good idea it is; with added incentive of a Caulfield Cup start should a horse win the Mornington Cup, the field was strong and betting turnover was high. This is really forward thinking by the Mornington Racing Club and I commended them on their move. And how about the prize money? It was almost the same as a group one. This move just gets everyone talking and attracts the best horses. Bravo.

As I sat in the car park at Mornington, doing a little bit of work, I could not help but notice the hundreds and hundreds of people walking into the track. The day sure had a carnival feel. The spacious grounds and neat gardens of the Mornington racecourse made for such a lovely day for all.

The girls and I were even invited up to the committee room. It was unlike other committee rooms I have seen in my time in that it was very relaxed. All the important racing information was being discussed, but it was done in a relaxed “summer” environment.

I enjoyed chatting to master wine maker Tony Hancy who has the famed vineyard Prancing Horse Estate.

It was most enjoyable meeting this fella who told me he named his vineyard after one of his favourite hobbies, racing. I also had the pleasure of meeting a man named Frank. He introduced himself as Frank and told me that back in his day, he played a little bit of tennis. I asked him if he had ever been to Wimbledon. He replied that yes, in fact he had been there many times and he even won the title in 1952. Well, I immediately realised that I was not talking to some regular Frank, but the one and only Frank Sedgman, one of Australia’s greatest ever tennis players. As Frank mentioned, he won Wimbledon in 1952, but I (with some internet research) also was reminded that Frank had won the Australian Open twice in 1949 and 1950 and the US Open in 1951 and 1952. He was also an outstanding doubles and mixed doubles player winning 22 grand slams in all. What a legend; and it was a great pleasure to meet such a great Australian. And he has a great passion for horse racing.

What a thrill it was to meet him. The Mornington race club sure did put on an extraordinary day, and all the owners and indeed the lady trainer had a magnificent day. Yesterday, Mornington showed that it is still possible to put on a great raceday if you have the right ideas and the right people making the decisions.

It is funny when a horse like Reuben Percival gets to the top of the weights in a race like the Mornington Cup. In the absolute best of the best handicaps, like the Doncaster, a horse with the top weight is rarely disadvantaged. But in the Mornington Cup, there were stayers from all over with different form lines all converging on a country track. Reuben, with the top weight was supremely disadvantaged and it was always going to be hard for him to win the race. As usual he did as proud.

Heading into Saturday, the two-year-olds all look great. Most Joyful (More Than Ready x Sunday Joy) heads into the 1100m Widden Stakes in fantastic order. This striking chestnut filly will have to compete with another stunning filly Overreach (Exceed And Excel x Bahia) for the chocolates. Both fillies are going super.

Star Thoroughbreds Whittington (Tale of the Cat x Maha Chakri) has every chance of making it two from two when the colt contests the Canonbury Stakes on Saturday.

I am also very pleased with More Than Ready colt War (More Than Ready x Deedra) who has turned the corner in a big way. War and Whittington ran the quinella in the Breeders Plate during the spring, and both colts are very exciting prospects heading into the two-year-old races in the autumn.

Very handy middle distance Kiwi import Under The Sun (No Excuse Needed x Sleeking) resumes on Saturday. This boy has either run first or second in every race he has had since the spring of 2011. That bodes well for Saturday.

Star Thoroughbreds Driefontein (Fastnet Rock x Follow Gold) continues to impress the entire team every morning at Randwick. The consistent youngster is primed for Saturday.

I am already shaking at the knees thinking about doing my bit at a Victorian racing conference next week. I will be speaking to the masses and I am terribly nervous, but excited as well. A good mix!

I have given thousands of speeches at the races, but I still get nervous talking to large groups out of my pond.

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