Australia’s wonder mare, Miss Finland, keeps getting beaten in group I races -- but just as strangely, she keeps winning fans.
It happened again Oct. 13 at Caulfield, when Maldivian trounced her to win the Yalumba Stakes (Aus-I) over 10 furlongs. The AUS$400,000 race, a major and prestigious WFA event run for the 121st time this year, had Miss Finland going to the post as the prohibitive favorite. When they jumped away, she was paying $1.40 for every dollar invested. Yet she did not look comfortable at any stage, being back in sixth spot six lengths behind leaders Rubiscent and Maldivian at the halfway mark.
“She settled pretty well but just wanted to get in onto the fence throughout, and at the halfway we had them in our sights and I thought we were going well enough,” said her rider, Craig Williams. “As we entered into the last turn I was about five lengths behind the leaders, but she seemed to wobble and not accelerate. And so when I came out of it and straightened up, she was further behind them. It was a flat spot, and you just can’t run down horses like Maldivian when they are going that fast out in front. He just did not come back today, but I bet my mare’s last two furlongs were the quickest.
“I was unhappy I got beaten, but not unhappy with the horse’s effort. With the extra pressure on in the Cox Plate like it always is, she should be better suited.”
Maldivian, who next week will go into the $3.5 million 12-furlongs Caulfield Cup (Aus-I) at the same track, looked awesome. He was up on the speed in second spot until just before the turn, where he just exploded away and put three lengths on them in a twinkling of an eye. It was a commanding performance and with a furlong to go, he had the race shot to pieces.
“I am gob smacked at how easily he beat a champion like Miss Finland,” said the winner’s trainer, Mark Kavanagh. “He has nothing on his back in the Cup next week. In fact, he drops six kilograms, so I am very excited about next week. And who knows, he may even back up for the Cox Plate a week later. I have him paid up for that, too.”
Anamato (Redoute’s Choice-Voltage) a stablemate to the runner-up, ran a brilliant Melbourne Cup trial, coming from last of eight on the home bend to wind up third. He was third in the American Oaks at Hollywood Park in July.
Maldivian was having his 16th start and recorded his seventh win. He now has amassed AUS$557,400 in stakes, with plenty more in the offing. He is considered a fabulously good racehorse who is likely to demoralize the rest in the Cup next week.