Gr.3 Aurie’s Star Handicap at Flemington on Saturday
By Kristen Manning
Melbourne racegoers may still be warding off winter chills as they head to the track but there is a definite taste of spring in the air with the running of the Gr.3 Aurie’s Star Handicap at Flemington on Saturday.
A race run in honour of the outstanding sprinter of the late 1930s and early 1940s, the race is one that has grown in respect over the years, firstly run as a normal handicap before gaining Listed status in 2005.
From 2010 it has been run at Gr.3 level with its rise through the ranks due much to the late Bart Cummings who so often kicked off the spring campaigns of his topliners in the race.
Such as Hyperno who swamped his rivals from the rear in 1979.
Other high profile stables have recognised the Aurie’s Star Handicap’s value as a starting point for top horses – such as Lindsay Park who cheered on Fields Of Omagh in 2002.
This year’s running has attracted a quality field of ten headed by Australian Guineas hero Hey Doc who kicked off his last campaign with a close up third Manfred Stakes at Caulfield. Fellow Group One winner I Am A Star also boasts solid fresh form, first up last time in a Rubiton Stakes second.
Also first up is the Hayes trained Grande Rosso, seven times winner who is proven at Flemington having won the Chester Manifold Stakes in mid-January. And the chances don’t end there with the majority of contestants boasting black type form.
Early favourite for the $150,000 contest is the Peter & Paul Snowden trained Flippant who was last seen running third in the Ramornie at Grafton in mid-July. Trialling well at Rosehill recently, she has won five of her 17 starts.
It is apt that classy horses contest and win the Aurie’s Star with the horse himself such a terrific galloper – winning four races now rated Gr.1; two Oakleigh Plates, a Newmarket Handicap and a Goodwood Handicap.
Most remarkable about Aurie’s Star was his durability (he raced until 13 and had 89 starts) and his ability to carry big weights to tough wins in fast times. His straight six record set in 1940 stood for decades and his second Oakleigh Plate victory came under the considerable steadier of 63kg.
At eight he won a sprint on Melbourne Cup Day with a whopping 71 1/2kg and when he claimed the Goodwood with 63 1/2kg he was conceding the runner up no less than 10 1/2kg!
Kristen Manning is a freelance racing writer and pedigree analyst based in Melbourne. A keen owner/breeder who loves every aspect of thoroughbred horse racing, she has written two books focusing on the deeds of Fields Of Omagh and Prince Of Penzance.