There was irony in that Lee Freedman's 100th group I winner came at Caulfield, the Melbourne track he left several years ago to train at a private set-up at Rye, in country Victoria.
The milestone came up when Mummify outstayed and upstaged W.S. Cox Plate (Aust-I0 favorites Grand Armee and Starcraft as the 9-4 favorites prepped for the $3 million (Australian funds) event in the $400,000 Caulfield Stakes (Aust-I) Oct 9.
Mummify (6-1) was prepping for next Saturday's Caulfield Cup (Aust-I), the $2 million handicap he triumphed in last year. Partnered by Danny Nikolic, the 5-year-old outstayed Grand Armee by a head. The pair duelled in the latter stages of the 2,000 meters, timed at 2:03.24 on a dead surface. The runner-up was ridden by Damien Oliver, the pilot for more of Freedman's 100 group I winners than any other.
The Des Green-bred Mummify has won $3.4 million for John O'Neill and his nine partners. O'Neill paid $41,000 for the horse as a yearling in Adelaide. He is by 1994 Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) winner Jeune from Cleopatra's Girl, a daughter of 1986 Melbourne Cup hero At Talaq (by Roberto). Grand Armee has contributed $3.3 million to Hennessy's southern earnings.
Starcraft, a $2 million-plus winner by Soviet Song, nosed out King's Chapel (King of Kings) 1 1/2 lengths from the main contest. Their trials for the Cox on Oct 23 were enhanced by the fact Caulfield was biased in favor of on-pace runners near the rail.
One of four sons of a former Sydney handler, Freedman started training at Flemington in the mid 1980s, his group I account opened in Adelaide in 1986. Only the late Tommy Smith (282) and Bart Cummings (245), have prepared more Australian group I winners.
The Caulfield Stakes and the $400,000 Toorak Handicap (Aust-I) won by Regal Roller upstaged the $1 million Caulfield Guineas (Aust-I) won by Econsul. The 40-1 shot finished over the top of Gilded Time's juvenile group I winner Barely a Moment (9-1) in deep stretch to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:37.02 for the 1,600 meters. Under Command (30-1) grabbed third 2 1/2 lengths away in an even field of 16 males, any of whom would struggle to match the better 3-year-old fillies, Alinghi and Lotteria.
Bred by Augusta Bloodstock, Econsul is a first crop son of Australian Guineas winner Pins, a Waikato Stud (NZ) based son of Snippets and a great grandson of Tom Fool. His handler, Graeme Rogerson, paid $65,000 (NZ funds) for him as an Auckland yearling.
Regal Roller became the first in 18 years to complete the group I double of the Dubai Racing Club Cup and Toorak with another wire-to-wire victory. The 9-4 choice is the first winner in 32 years to carry 57kg (126 pounds) or more. A 5-year-old by Vice Regent's Coronation Futurity (Can-I) winner Regal Classic
, Regal Roller races for his breeders Brian and Joan Durran and their son Cameron. His 10th win from 27 starts sent his earnings beyond a million.