Eleonora wins Ethereal Stakes, the race named after her gran

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If ever there was an appropriate winner at Caulfield on Cup day it was the three-year-old New Zealand-trained filly Eleonora, partnered by Damien Oliver.

The $$7 shot took out the Ethereal Stakes, one of the most significant Oaks trials every year.

Not only is Eleonora trained (by the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman partnership) in the land of the long white cloud but she is a granddaughter of that grand New Zealand-trained staying mare Ethereal.

Ethereal sprung to prominence on this day in 2001 when she won the Caulfield Cup, following up with the Melbourne Cup 17 days later.

Eleonora may well have similar aspirations later in her career, but for now she is set to try and make her mark at Flemington in a different race, the VRC Oaks.

The daughter of NZ based stallion Makfi – a winner of the English 2000 Guineas in his racing days – showed plenty of staying potential in the 2000-metre Ethereal Stakes, scoring from Tiamo Grace, from the Darren Weir camp, with the Sydney-trained Savvan, trained by James Cummings, just keeping Moqueen, trained by his father Anthony, out of third spot.

Oliver said after the race: ” A trip won’t be a problem. She looks great going towards the Oaks.”

Forsman added: “She got a dream run through and for all the bad luck she had last time [when beaten at Flemington in the Edward Manifold Stakes] she got good luck today. The Oaks has been a long-term plan for her. We knew if she got in the race she would be hard to beat.”

The Baker/Forsman combination is no stranger to success on Caulfield Cup day, the Kiwi pair having sent out Mongolian Khan to win the big one 12 months ago.

Sydney horses have been sweeping all before them at the Caulfield carnival and Palazzo Pubblico continued the trend in the third race on Caulfield Cup day, the listed Alinghi Stakes.

The $$31 shot was well handled by heavyweight jockey Steven Arnold, who produced her fast and late to score by a short neck and three-quarters of a length from the well backed Aegean Sea, who firmed from an opening quote of $$26 to start at $$11, with the horse who won this race last year, Vezelay, third at $$7.

The Clarry Connors-trained Aegean Sea, like the Matthew Smith-prepared winner, is trained in Sydney, and both mares are stabled at Warwick Farm.

Their task was made easier with the late scratching at the barrier of the pre-race favourite Super Cash, who was suspected of being lame just before the runners entered the barriers.

Like Weir, the trainer of the first-race winner Jennifer Lynn, Smith was not on track but he may now fancy his chances of taking home more Victorian cash over the Flemington carnival, where there are some tempting targets for sprinting mares.

Arnold said he had planned to ride a patient race – he was 11th with just 400 metres of the 1100-metre journey remaining – and his tactics worked to perfection.

“She was good. She was quite fresh going to the stalls and she is first up,” he said.

“I was just really keen to get a bit of cover down the back and let her use her turn of foot late so that’s what we did.

“I probably got back a bit further than I wanted to, but that was the only place with cover … when I peeled out she really gave me a good kick. She’s been trialling good up there, trialling well sitting back, maybe it suited her a bit.”

Blake Shinn, on the runner-up, thought with an ounce of luck the placing might have been reversed.

“He [Connors] targeted this race and got a good black type result. I momentarily got held up at the 250, I think that cost her the race, but it was a very game effort.” The ultimate racing form guide with free tips, live odds and alerts for all racing.

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