Madonna's Win Divine as Melbourne Carnival Ends

Divine Madonna vindicated the judgement of trainer Mark Kavanagh with a last-to-first performance in the Emirates Cantala Stakes (Aus-I) on the final day of the 2006 Melbourne Cup Carnival Nov. 11.

The South Australian handler had paid top filly price of $250,000 for the General Nediym half sister at the Adelaide Magic Millions Yearling Sale in March.

At sale time, Divine Madonna had won twice and placed in Listed company from six starts out of Kavanagh's Adelaide barn. But the 49-year-old had faith.

The $455,000 from her second graded and first grade I success advanced the earnings of the 4-year-old filly past $840,000. She and her younger sibling were bred and sold as yearlings by Mill Park in partnership with Bob Dinham.

An $82,500 purchase at the same sale, Divine Madonna has six wins, three seconds and two thirds from 16 starts for a slew of owners headed by Isobel Kavanagh, the administrative head of her husband's barn.

Divine Madonna is the fourth grade I winner for Hurricane Sky, a grandson of speed influence Bletchingly, through his ill-fated son Star Watch. Her dam, My Madonna is by deceased Irish horse Prego. She has a Flying Spur

Hurricane Sky is currently rostered at Western Australian farm, Durham Lodge, his fee $8,000. The 15-year-old dual grade I winner had worked in New South Wales at Wakefield and Arrowfield.

A 5-1 equal elect with the unplaced Desert War, Divine Madonna snapped a long losing streak for her jockey Stephen Baster to defeat Niconero (20-1) by a long neck.

Valedictum (40-1) finished third in defense of his win last year. The 124th edition was run in 1:35.53 for the 1,600 meters.

Kavanagh had been worried about a track bias that cost his filly at least a placing in the Empire Rose Stakes (Aus-I) on Derby day. But the final day before the historic Flemington oval is completely torn up and replaced played fairly through all nine races.