Saturday racing in a nutshell
His name catches a few out as a bit of a tongue-twister, but Mutarakem wasn't confused on Saturday as he chalked up his first win in Australia, at his first attempt in Melbourne. After 12 attempts north of the border in New South Wales, master trainer Chris Waller found an 1800m race for him at Ladbrokes Park - and it was just the tonic as he won for the first time since his second career start at Deauville in March 2016. His only other start beyond a mile in Australia saw him place third at Canterbury over 1900m, so he clearly appreciates the 9-10 furlong range.
The unbeaten Twitchy Frank - for DK Weir - and the in-form Mawzoona, for Team Snowden, were market fancies in the Ladbrokes Cash In Handicap (1300m). And while that pair loomed large inside the final furlong, they were trumped by the Ellerton/Zahra-trained Light Romance, ridden by Ben Thompson. Simon Zahra had indicated on Racing.com on Friday he felt the filly was unlucky last start, and her two wins in a promising first career preparation have now come at SPs of $13 and $8.50. Weir backers caught up a couple of races later, as Ozi Choice - had opened $3.90 at CrownBet, but paid close to odds-on everywhere - bolted in.
The punters also pulled off a plunge in Adelaide when Peretti, having her first start for the Paul Beshara stable, won a 1200m maiden at Morphettville paying $2.70 on the Victorian tote. But given she opened at $15 with CrownBet, there was certainly some money on, and Beshara - of Happy Trails fame - was able to deliver with his charge, jockey Todd Pannell getting her there in the final strides to the joy of many.
Steve Smith wasn't long off the MCG having chalked up his 23rd Test century in the drawn Boxing Day Test, when the horse he co-owns Hogmanay was victorious at Royal Randwick. Smith is next bound for the ground over the road from Randwick, the SCG, to wrap up a successful Ashes series in the New Year Test. But when things are going your way, they are going your way. The Chris Waller-trained Hogmanay paid $13.70 on the Victorian tote, and completed a Blake Shinn treble. And for the Waller stable, they remarkably filled the first-four in the race, as Vaucluse Bay, Xebec and Zourkhan were all beaten about a length.
"When you pay $10,000 for them, and own a quarter of them, you find a real soft spot for them!" - Tasmanian trainer Scott Brunton is thrilled his four-year-old mare Life On The Wire continues to pay her own way, winning the $100,000 Ladbrokes Money Wire Handicap (1400m). She now heads towards the Group 3 Bow Mistress Trophy (1200m) at Hobart on February 9. Scott's father David put his hand up last for $10,000 for her at the 2015 Magic Millions Yearling Sale in Adelaide, and she has earned back over $164,000 in just 12 starts already.
"I knew he was fit, as I ride him in work every morning." - Caulfield trainer John Moloney celebrated a double, as his two-year-old filly Graceful Storm went 2/2 in the opener on the card, before Orient Line caused a bit of an upset, the $13 shot putting in a rare on-pace effort to win the Ladbrokes Up For The Challenge Handicap (1600m). But as Moloney said, he knew his six-year-old gelding was up for it on Saturday.
Ben Thompson - Sandown double
John Moloney - Sandown double
Shane Karlsson - first Australian winner, at Stony Creek, for the Swedish jockey
Blake Shinn - Randwick treble, including the feature Christmas Classic
Kris Lees - two-state treble (including a Randwick double)
Jeff Lloyd - Doomben double
Ozi Choice and apprentice Ben Thompson at Sandown-Hillside, picture Quentinjlang.com