Powered by Helpon!


Straight track can trap all players especially those who need a turn

The straight track at Flemington has always been the source of much intrigue, and at times annoyance for those in racing attempting to conquer the turnless stretch of grass that stages some of our most important sprint races each year.

At Flemington on Saturday the first of two major sprint races, the Black Caviar Lightning, will be run down the testing straight 1000 metres and a few weeks later one of ‘s premier short-course events, the 1200-metre Newmarket Handicap, will be run on the straight track.

It has quirks and idiosyncrasies of its own. Until years gone by it was either the inside or the outside, or both, but now the equation has moved to the centre.

One of ‘s finest jockeys, Dwayne Dunn, in his time in Victoria has managed to master the often head-scratching straight track.

“Straight racing adds another dimension to our industry. No other city has a straight track but in saying that it delivers another dynamic to our racing,” he said.

“It’s often hard to read and in the last few years the jockeys have decided to come down the centre as that is basically where the water truck comes and when the water has dried it hardens up the surface and you’ll find it’ll be quicker than either the inside or outside.”

Dunn won last year’s group 1 sprint with Chautauqua in the very last stride, in a performance rarely seen anywhere.

“On his day Chautauqua is just an outstanding horse whether it’s up the straight or round the turn. He’s just proven on an international basis that when he’s right nothing worries him,” he said.

“But some horses just don’t adapt to it. Some on-pace leaders can over-race because their racing style is built around a bend, coming to a turn and kicking off it and gathering significant momentum that can often give them a winning break.

“But in contrast those same horses can spend their time up the straight looking for a turn that will never come. Cover is vital especially for horses that could have a tendency to over-race. If you could put them to sleep and come with one run that’s the way to go. But it’s getting the cover that’s important but not always easy to obtain.”

Saturday’s $750,000 sprint will give a valuable insight to the Newmarket Handicap later in the autumn and indeed the T.J. Smith Stakes at Randwick is another race that will have a significant number of Lightning Stakes competitors in it.

Dunn believes that a lot of thought goes into where the best part of the track will be. Wind is a contributing pointer to the right side of the track as well as being aware that the surface will dry out significantly by the second-last race on Saturday and the hardest part of the track could be either inside centre or outside.

Dunn is happy with his ride on gifted three-year-old Star Turn in Saturday’s group 1 event.

He points out that in Star Turn’s only run up the straight the horse never settled and tended to over-race, ruining his chances of success.

“I think this time, though, with such strong early pace and the trip at 1000 metres will make the world of difference in him dropping the bit and coming into the race with a strong finishing dash,” he said.

“This year the Lightning is a race of depth but Star Turn, I think, has the quality and the ability to show his best up the straight, and that’s the most important feature of sprint racing at Flemington.”

Dunn is hoping that if Star Turn is to win and give the former South n back-to-back Lightnings it won’t be as heart-stopping as Chautauqua’s performance in last year’s race.

Comments are disabled.