After much anticipation, Melbourne turned on stunning weather for 98,823 keen racegoers, who headed to Flemington for a brilliant day of racing for the 2012 AAMI Victoria Derby Day.
A fantastic day of racing, boasting four elite Group 1 level races, the first day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival was a fitting start to Australia’s most anticipated week of racing.
It saw outsider Fiveandahalfstar win the 2012 AAMI Victoria Derby in a thriller. Damian Oliver steered the Anthony Cummings-trained colt to victory ahead of Super Cool and Rawnaq, with favourite It’s A Dundeel unable to place. The win was Oliver’s third AAMI Victoria Derby crown.
In the Coolmore Stud Stakes, Nechita gave Sydney hoop Christian Reith his maiden Group 1 success. After jumping well from barrier three, Reith settled Nechita just off the pace before cruising alongside the leaders at the 300m and bursting clear not long after.
Alcopop’s Longines Mackinnon Stakes victory was the latest chapter in an amazing career for the gelding who burst to prominence in the spring of 2009. The $6 chance was ridden a treat by champion jockey Craig Williams, who produced a rails-hugging ride to nab tearaway leader Glass Harmonium in the final couple of strides.
Sydney trainer Guy Walter took out the $500,000 Group 1 Myer Classic, but it wasn’t with the mare that punters had hoped. Appearance scored a blowout result in the feature mares’ race of the AAMI Victoria Derby Day program, finishing hardest in a driving finish to score a narrow win in the 1600m event.
Overall, this was a memorable day of thoroughbred racing and set the standard for the coming Emirates Melbourne Cup on Tuesday 6 November 2012, and also for the rest of this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.