McDonald, O’Brien suffer Caulfield setbacks

Ecstasy turned to agony for Clinton McDonald when rising sprint star Diamond ­Effort’s impressive Caulfield success was quickly followed by a three-month ban.

Racing Victoria stewards said the mare had bled from both nostrils after Ben Melham navigated an inspired passage to win the Lamaro’s Hotel Handicap (1000m).

As McDonald contemplated a tilt at black-type spoils with Diamond Effort, vets detected blood in both of the mare’s nostrils.

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McDonald’s disappointment was matched by that of Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Danny O’Brien, whose hopes of advancing Russian Camelot’s South Australian Derby preparation were foiled by a barrier mishap.

The heavily backed favourite was withdrawn after the gates malfunctioned, causing the import to lose composure and rear.

“I’ve had better days,” O’Brien said.

“The horse is fine. There’s nothing wrong with him and he’s not injured. But obviously when that happens, they pull them out. The barriers malfunctioned and Damien (Oliver) gave him a jam to jump and the gates didn’t open.

“They decided on a manual start and by that time, the horse had had enough.”

O’Brien will now find another race for Russian Camelot in Victoria before crossing the border for the SA Derby on May 9.

Diamond Effort sprouts wings to circle her rivals and claim an impressive victory.Source:AAP

The race was won by Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott’s The Lifeline, who was given a lovely ride by Dwayne Dunn.

McDonald contemplated a bright future for Diamond Effort, tipping a rise to Group success and emulating her brother Second Effort after her seventh win from 13 starts.

“She was probably in the worst part of the track the way it is racing at the moment, so it was really impressive,” McDonald said.

“She’s a really nice mare. Her brother became a group winner as a four-year-old and I think she can do the same.

“She’ll go to the Bel Esprit Stakes in a fortnight over 1100m. Then we’ll reassess and see where we are — whether we put her away and then come back in the spring. She’s going well.”

Concerned trainer Clinton McDonald after Diamond Effort bled from both nostrils.Source:AAP


Thomas Stockdale is still in the infancy of his riding career but he’s already certain of one thing — Buffalo River is the fastest horse he’s ridden.

Burdened with 60kg from gate 12 over 1400m, Buffalo River toyed with the opposition to underline his quality — and Mike Moroney’s confidence in the four-year-old — with a dominant win in the Jack Elliott Handicap.

“I was worried early when I didn’t have enough speed to cross them and I had a lot of pressure inside me,” Stockdale said.

“I was assured that the horse was fit so I got him in a nice rhythm throughout. We got a cheap sectional, if you’d like to call if that.

“I don’t think I’ve ridden a faster horse than him.”

Stockdale completed an excellent day with victory in the last on Salsamor, the gelding’s fourth win in a row.

Jamie Kah rides Forever Free to victory in the opening race.Source:AAP


Forever Free and Jamie Kah combined seamlessly to hand punters a painless start to the day with a clinical win in the Robert Taranto Handicap (1100m)

A sister to Group 3-winning sprinter, the finely-built sprinter will be given the chance to mature steadily by trainers Mat Ellerton and Simon Zahra.

“We’ll probably take it run-by-run with her. She’s a slight filly,” Ellerton said.

“She’s taken her time to mature up, she’s not very robust. We’ll see how she is in the next few days.

“She’s an immature filly so it is good to see her doing this now and the future looks bright with her.”

Ellerton and Zahra produced a Caulfield double with Oasis Girl and quickly added to the haul at Werribee with River Mist.

River Mist is the first winning graduate from the stable’s Yungaburra base near Kyneton


Michael Poy’s penchant for judging staying races with rare precision is increasingly a focus. for punters.

His measured ride on Mirimar was a master class in awareness as he first made Inverloch work and then wore down the favourite late to snare the Geoff Murphy Handicap (2400m).

“I was confident. We have beaten Busuttin’s horse (Inverloch) at Sandown prior,” Poy said.

“We had a better turn-of-foot than it.

“With the swing in the weights going our way, it was always going to be hard for it to outsprint us.”

Ancestry takes out the Selangor Turf Club Handicap.Source:AAP


Phillip Stokes believes Ancestry is capable of continuing his stunning win run in even better class after the after the gelding completed a hat-trick with an impressive win in Selangor Turf Club Handicap (1100m).

Adding to victories at Pakenham and The Valley, Ancestry posted his fourth win from five starts.

Handled perfectly by Ben Thompson, Ancestry ($7) defied a betting drift to win by 2¾ lengths from Knowles ($8.50), with Defiant Dancer ($11) a further 1-1/4 lengths away third.

"He's absolutely flying," Stokes said.

“We'll see how he pulls up but I think he's got better wins in store so we'll bring the bar up.”


Jake Noonan took the riding honours at Werribee with a treble, but Tahlia Hope’s return to the saddle caught Group 1-winning jockey Alf Matthews’ eye.

“First ride back since 06/07/19 & 2000m to boot on a jumper. Great dedication to be so fit. Very proud of her and very underestimated,” Matthews tweeted.


“I knew I had plenty of horse but it was just a matter of where I was going to go. But, yeah, she was very good.”

— Ben Melham on Diamond Effort’s weaving win in the Lamaro’s Hotel Handicap (1000m).



Forever Free defied the betting drift to land the money in the Robert Taranto Handicap (1100m).

Rated a treat by Jamie Kah in the lead, Forever Free ($2-$2.70) kicked away midway down the straight to hold off Ranting ($7) and The Last Charge ($101) with the trifecta runners all racing on or near the speed.

BETS: Forever Free $1000 @ $2.70

BETS: Boom Daddy $1000 @ $8.50

BETS: Sahara Song $1500 @ $6, $1000 @ $6

BETS: Ranting $1350 @ $8

BETS: Phere Her $1000 @ $10


The late money for Mirimar was spot on in the Geoff Murphy Handicap (2400m).

Mike Moroney’s runner was $5 in the morning, bottomed out at $4.20 and jumped $4.60.

Going around as the second most popular horse, Mirimar enjoyed the run of the race behind the leader Inverloch ($3.30-$4-$3.80), which held the most money, with the pair finishing one-two at the finish.

BETS: Mirimar $2000 e/w @ $4.60/$1.75, $2500 @ $4.40

BETS: Inverloch $1000 @ $3.60 TWICE, $1000 @ $3.30 TWICE


Favourite backers were on good terms with themselves after Buffalo River led and won easily in the Jack Elliott Handicap (1400m).

Giving Mike Moroney a running double, Buffalo River found the front for Thomas Stockdale and the $3.80 fav was never headed, booting clear to score impressively.

Villa Sarchi ($18) rattled home for second while Battle Torque ($81) added plenty of spice to the exotics.

Buffalo River held nearly twice as much money as second pick in the market, Killavally ($5.50).

BETS: Buffalo River $2980 @ $3.70, $1500 @ $3.70 TWICE, $1000 @ $3.50

BETS: Arty Lucas $1000 e/w @ $31/$8

Oasis Girl left her rivals in her wake in the Thomas North Handicap.Source:AAP


This was a blowout result for punters with double figure odds runners filling the placings.

Beauty Bolt was the most popular horse in the Thomas North Handicap (1400m), going around as a $6.50 favourite and with 20 per cent of the total investment.

Tycoon Bella ($14-$8) was good firm as was Splendoronthegrass ($26-$12), however, Oasis Girl ($12-$19) was largely ignored.

Spearing to the lead with Damien Thornton in the saddle, the pair were never headed as they went on to beat Under My Spell ($31) and Donttelltheboss ($12).

BETS: Beauty Bolt $2000 @ $6.50, $1000 @ $6.50 MULTIPLE TIMES

BETS: Parmie $1000 @ $8.50

BETS: Modear $2000 e/w @ $12/$3.90


Ancestry delivered a bad result to TAB after racing away with the Selangor Turf Club Handicap (1100m).

The Ben Thompson-ridden runner held some big bets and jumped a $6.50 chance, which put him on the third line of betting behind Absolute Flirt ($6) and Sartorial Splendor ($12-$6).

Ancestry kept the inside line after the money horse Sartorial Splendor was sent forward to race outside the leader. Kicking clear on straightening, the Phillip Stokes gelding easily defeated Knowles ($8.50) and Defiant Dancer ($10-$12).

BETS: Ancestry $2500 @ $6, $2000 @ $6


Diamond Effort ($2.90-$3.60) was easily the most popular runner for the running of the Lamaro’s Hotel Handicap (1000m).

Going around with 35 per cent of the total investment, Diamond Effort came down the outside for Ben Melham to overhaul Ashlor ($12-$7), which had been specked at eachway odds. Fine Dane ($18-$11) wound up third. Of the others, Malibu Style ($9-$7) had admirers as did Parsifal ($4.40).

BETS: Diamond Effort $3300 @ $3.50, $1100 @ $3.60, $2000 @ $3.20

BETS: Parsifal $2000 e/w @ $4.40/$1.75



Mitchell Aitken guides Exasperate to victory to land some decent bets for punters.Source:AAP


Punters kept chipping away at Exasperate and were rewarded when it proved best in the eighth event on the card from Caulfield.

Exasperate was $8 on Wednesday and $6.50 on Saturday morning, however, by the time the race rolled around it was a $5.50 chance.

Mitch Aitken pulled out three-wide approaching the final bend, racing to the lead shortly after and pulling away late.

Charossa ($7) finished strongly for second in front of the heavily tried Benitoite ($2.50-$2.70) which went around as one of the best supported runners all day.

Benitoite was responsible for 60 per cent of the total investment.

BETS: Benitoite $5020 @ $2.70, $2000 @ $2.70 MULTIPLE TIMES, $1680 @ $2.70, $1000 @ $2.70 MULTIPLE TIMES, $5000 @ $2.60, $4550 @ $2.60


Salsamor defied the betting drift to take out the Remember Roy Higgins Handicap (2000m).

The Busuttin & Young representative was $5.50-$7 on the day but proved too strong over the concluding stages, sustaining a run from the home turn with Thomas Stockdale aboard.

Ghodeleine ($10) was valiant in trying to lead throughout and wound up second after being $21 in the morning.

Star Missile ($4.40-$9-$8.50) was a drifter but ran on strongly for third.

Of the rest there was a long range move for Fanciful Toff ($15-$6.50).

Originally published asMcDonald, O’Brien suffer Caulfield setbacks

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