10/29/2011 10:57AM

Australia: Flemington opening day draws crowd of 100,000


In front of a crowd of over 100,000 on a glorious day, many of Australian racing's biggest heroes were in action on the first day of Flemington's Spring Carnival. The four Group 1s contested at the Melbourne oval, resulted in mixed performances by the betting favorites.

Emerging star Atlantic Jewel ($2.80), a 3-year-old filly owned by Ireland's Coolmore Stud, put forth a breathtaking display when dusting her own generation in the Group 2, $300,000 Wakeful Stakes at 1 1/4 miles. Atlantic Jewel is now 5 for 5.

Niwot ($17.20), a 7-year-old Galileo gelding, advertised himself as a serious contender for Tuesday's Melbourne Cup when cruising home in the Group 3, $250,000 Lexus Stakes at 1 9/16 miles. His effort is likely to put him in the Cup field.

Powerhouse 3-year-old Sepoy ($2.40) ran his career mark to 10 for 11 in the Group 1, $500,000 Coolmore Stakes at six furlongs. However, Sheikh Mohammed's colt may not have liked Flemington's straight course and was all out to fend off the rally of Foxwedge.

Despite acting up for several minutes at the start, Melbourne Cup entrant Glass Harmonium ($12.60), handled expertly by Damien Oliver, seized command early and held well late in the Group 1, $1 million Mackinnon Stakes at 1 1/4 miles.

The featured event, the Group 1, $1.5 million Victoria Derby, was taken by New Zealand invader Sangster ($29.60), who traveled three wide throughout and found just enough to hold off a willing Induna, who had encountered interference at several junctures. Ridden for the first time by Hugh Bowman, Sangster provided the popular rider with back-to-back wins in the Derby after last year's triumph aboard fellow New Zealand-based galloper Lion Tamer. Heavily favored Manawanui tired in the straight.

The upset trend continued as 15 for 21 More Joyous faded similarly in the Group 1, $500,000 Myer Classic at one mile. Benefitting from the preferred wide trip on dead ground, Hurtle Myrtle ($27.40) provided jockey Oliver with his second top class score on the card.