Trainer turns air blue after Diamond upset
Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young scored their first Group 1 success since moving permanently from New Zealand to Australia - and silenced those who tagged them better trainers of stayers than sprinters - when $26 outsider Tagaloa toughed it out to win the $1.5 million Blue Diamond Stakes.
In a day of boilovers at Caulfield on Saturday, the exciting colt justified the faith invested in him from his trainers, his collection of high-profile owners and jockey Michael Walker by narrowly holding out the $2.60 favourite Hanseatic.
It also proved Busuttin's decision to bypass the $2 million Magic Millions Classic last month in favour of chasing this Group 1 success was a savvy one.
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The Blue Diamond victory has assured Tagaloa - a son of Japanese sire Lord Kanaloa - of a very lucrative stud future.
Such was the excitement that Young described herself as an "emotional wreck" and Busuttin accidentally dropped an expletive on television.
"When he kicked and the favourite (Hanseatic) came off our back, I thought ah f---," Busuttin said after the stable's first Group 1 win since moving to Cranbourne 3½ years ago. "But he toughed it out. He (Hanseatic) was going to go past him, but he (Tagaloa) poked his neck out."
He declared Tagaloa a certain starter in the $3.5 million Golden Slipper at Rosehill on March 21. "I would even say the standard, 'if he pulls up all right, he will be going to the Slipper," Busuttin said. "He's going … 100 per cent."
There was plenty of race-day drama following Luke Currie's fall at Moonee Valley on Friday night, which meant Anthony Freedman had to employ Tim Clark on Hanseatic.
Tagaloa had finished fourth to Hanseatic in the Blue Diamond Prelude a fortnight ago, but Busuttin conceded it may have been trainer error.
"We knew he was soft (first-up), but we didn't realise how soft," he said. "But there was only a length and a half between us and the winner, and I knew we had a couple of lengths improvement in us."
Walker was always confident his colt could turn the tables on Godolphin's Hanseatic.
"I told everyone before the race that he (Tagaloa) was just too fat the other day, and I was spot on," Walker said. "I galloped the other day and I couldn't have been more confident.
"I kept saying he is (like) a three-year-old.
"I was not saying he couldn't win the Blue Diamond - I thought he could - but he is going to be a very, very good horse."
Busuttin and Young purchased the Japanese-bred colt at last year's Magic Millions sales for $300,000 - as the first lot on the second day of the sales.
"Three days before the Melbourne Cup last year, I couldn't walk."— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) February 22, 2020
In his only ride for today, Michael Walker wins the 50th edition of the Blue Diamond Stakes on TAGALOA.@Caulfield pic.twitter.com/aoOpgz85Yn
"I was very hungover," he laughed. "We only had one horse to buy and we thought if we can get in and buy the first lot, then I can go home to bed."
It has proven to be the best hangover cure of all, with Tagaloa set for more riches.
Walker is convinced the colt will be even better next season, but Busuttin knows if he can add the Slipper to the Diamond, it will be the breeding barn - not the racetrack - that will be calling fast.
ON THE PUNT - CAULFIELD WRAP
ACING THE TRAVEL
■ Adelaide Ace, who led throughout to win the Autumn Classic at Caulfield, is likely to rack up frequent flyer points chasing interstate derbies, according to trainer Lindsey Smith. Smith said he would look at the Western Australian Derby on April 11 then the South Australian Derby in May. Smith said Adelaide Ace had been the subject of some big offers from Hong Kong last spring but, as the gelding was a windsucker, they didn't proceed.
Adelaide Ace wins it from Nonconformist! pic.twitter.com/Lf01XMRIZ8— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) February 22, 2020
DECADES OF OLLIE
■ Champion jockey Damien Oliver ticked off one of the quirkiest of milestones of his career when he nailed his first black-type winner of the decade, meaning he has now achieved that feat in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s. Not bad for a bloke yet to turn 48.
Riding in some of the best form of his illustrious career, Oliver took a perfect rails run to salute on the Mick Price-Mick Kent Jr-trained He'll Haunt Us to win the Group 3 Zeditave Stakes at Caulfield.
Oliver's first black-type success was on Groucho in the 1989 Warwick Stakes.
"Five different decades and I'm not even 50 yet," Oliver said after the race.
Kent Jr said Oliver was riding as well as ever. "He is the best and that's why we put him on ... (he) rode him beautifully," he said.
■ A pre-race plan from trainer Mark Newnham and a superb frontrunning ride from Tim Clark presented consistent grey mare Greysful Glamour with the Group 3 Mannerism Stakes at Caulfield.
As Clark explained afterwards, Newnham noted four of the previous winners of this race had led, and so it proved again with the four-year-old daughter of Stratum.
"He had a plan ... and it worked," Clark said.
The win took some of the nerves away from Clark after he got a late call-up ride on Hanseatic in the Blue Diamond Stakes following Luke Currie's fall at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
■ James Cummings was full of praise for Brad Rawiller, and said he was glad he was part of the Godolphin team after he rode La Tene to win the Angus Armansco Stakes.
"That was a beautifully timed run poking up on the inside," Cummings said.
It was Rawiller's first of two rides on the program and gave him his first city winner this year, his fourth for the season. "He can ride as well as anybody else and he gives me heaps of good feedback and he works hard for us," Cummings said.
DID YOU HEAR/SEE?
■ Melbourne will host the 39th Asian Racing Conference in 2022.
Racing Minister Martin Pakula joined the ARC Conference secretary-general Andrew Harding at the closing ceremony of the 2020 conference in Cape Town, South Africa.
Pakula said the event would be a chance to promote Victoria's premier racing and breeding in key markets in Asia, and to foster connections on important issues for horse racing throughout the region. The conference will be held February-March 2022.
Last night I joined Racing Australia Chairman Greg Nicholls and Racing Victoria Chairman Brian Kruger, for the announcement that the 2022 Asian Racing Conference - with 600+ delegates - will be held in Melbourne. ARF Secretary General @Longreach66 performed the offical hand over. pic.twitter.com/eFQYbGcWhs— Martin Pakula (@MartinPakulaMP) February 22, 2020
■ Luke Currie will be sidelined for at least six weeks after the injuries he sustained when he was dislodged at the Valley on Friday night on Yulong June. Currie was found to have fractured two ribs and also broke his C7 vertebrae.
■ JUST BENJAMIN trapped wide throughout. RULERSHIP, lame off foreleg. Danny O'Brien said Miami Bound was plain and looked as if she needed 2400m. Lady Lupino flew home, but will be sidelined for three months after she bled from both nostrils.
HORSES TO FOLLOW
■ MELODY BELLE held on well for third in the Futurity Stakes. The 1600m of the All-Star Mile will be perfect.
■ ZOUTORI had a cracking run for second in the Oakleigh Plate. He'll be hard
to beat in the Newmarket.