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09 Oct

Racing: Snowden raiders snare prizes as in form Dunn lands Caulfield treble

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By a long neck: Mark Zahra riding Redzel, right, defeats Nicholas Hall riding Under the Louvre, second left, in race 5 of the Resimax Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday, August 27. Photo: Vince CaligiuriThere are few shrewder judges around than Peter Snowden – as his stable’s strike rate regularly attests – so when the Sydney based handler brings a couple of horses south for a tilt at two valuable support races on the first group 1 day of the new racing season, it’s probably worth paying attention.
Shanghai night field

Punters who did so and combined the pair would have enjoyed a healthy profit after Redzel scored in the group 3 Resimax Stakes at $5.50 and Defcon followed up 35 minutes later in the HDF McNeil Stakes at the longer odds of $7.50, producing a double which paid around 40/1.

The McNeil is often a decent pointer to the Caulfield Guineas later in the spring – the likes of Starspangled Banner and Bel Esprit have done the double in the past 16 years – but Snowden does not entertain such aspirations for Defcon.

The McNeil winner was the second leg of a treble for jockey of the moment Dwayne Dunn, who won the Scobie Breasley Medal, the jockeys’ Brownlow equivalent, earlier in the week but Snowden believes he is purely and simply a sprinter.

His main Melbourne target this spring will be the group 1 Coolmore Stakes on Derby Day, when he could clash with his stable mate Capitalist.

A son of Choisir, Defcon adapted quickly to the Melbourne way of going and showed commendable courage to accelerate through a narrow gap and quickly put away his field, beating the $4.80 favourite and last start winner Highland Beat by a length and a quarter,  with the fast finishing Wazzenme ($10) third a half-head away.

“He gave it a great ride,” said the trainer of Dunn’s effort. “Everything we asked he did … to the horse’s credit first time here he railed perfectly and took a needle eye opening and showed that customary 300-metre dash that he has. It’s brutal, it will win him more races than he will lose by them.

“If you can hold him up until that last little bit, it takes a good one to get by him. I am positive that he can improve off that. The Danehill (a group 2 sprint at Flemington) looks perfect for him in a couple of weeks’ time.”

A little knowledge may be a dangerous thing sometimes, but on other occasions it can make a huge difference.

Mark Zahra has ridden group 1 winner Under the Louvre on nine occasions – in races or trials – in the past 18 months, so if any jockey knows the capabilities of the Robert Smerdon trained Stradbroke winner it is Zahra.

On Saturday he was aboard the front-running Redzel ($5.50)  in the group 3 Resimax Stakes at Caulfield, with rival Nick Hall on Under the Louvre. The latter was sent off as the $3.70 favourite at his first start since his win in the big Brisbane feature, where he had been partnered by Dwayne Dunn.

Zahra knew he would have to set the right fractions and then leave enough in the tank to sustain what would be a determined late charge from the favourite, and he did it to perfection, scoring by a long neck.

“I knew he (Under the Louvre) always gets a fair way back. I didn’t have eyes in the back of my head, but late on I was starting to wonder, where is he. I just had enough left in the tank. Pete’s advice was spot on, he knew his horse and that helped me to win the race.”

Dunn stretched his lead at the top of the jockey’s list with the treble, begun earlier in the day on the David Hayes trained He’s Our Rokki ($7) who took out the Cattanach’s Jewellers Handicap over 1400 metres for the Hayes/Dabernig combination and completed in the last race with a swooping win on Ocean Embers ($4.40 favourite) in the Ladbrokes Cockram Stakes, a group 3 event for fillies and mares.

The latter was the first group race triumph for young trainer Shea Eden and she is a progressive sort who has now won three of her last four starts.

There was also a black type  success for Stuart Webb and Kate Mallyon, who teamed up with the front-running Great Esteem to take out the listed Heatherlie Handicap, a race that often provides clues to the middle distance contests later in the spring.

Great Esteem was well rated in the lead by Mallyon and had enough in reserve to hold off favourite Tom Melbourne ($4), who had chased her throughout. It was a race where backmarkers never had a sniff, as the third placed Longeron ($8) had been in the same spot throughout the race as well.

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