October 21, 2023

Caulfield Cup 2023 LIVE updates: Mild spring conditions greet racegoers ahead of possible thunderstorm on Caulfield Cup day

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‘A live Derby chance’: Sunsets puts spring carnival on notice

By Damien Ractliffe

Next month’s VRC Derby might not be the one-horse race it appeared to be before Saturday’s Neds Classic was run and won by Sunsets, causing a boilover to deny Riff Rocket victory at a short price.

Punters learned the hard way on Saturday that even a $1.30 favourite can get beaten, when Riff Rocket – a 5.5 lengths winner of the Super Impose Stakes at Flemington on Turnbull Stakes day – failed to get past Sunsets in the closing stages of Saturday’s 2000-metre contest.

Sunsets ridden by Johnny Allen.Credit: Racing Photos/Getty Images

While Riff Rocket – owned by Debbie Kepitis, the larger than life part-owner of champion Winx – is still a $2.50 favourite for the $2 million Derby which kicks off the four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival, Sunsets saw himself established as a $7 challenger for the 2500-metre grand final.

“He’ll definitely get further,” Sunsets’ co-trainer Natalie Young said after his win on Saturday.

“This is the most relaxed colt you’ll come across. He goes to sleep in the stalls and gets here on race day and doesn’t work himself up. He brings his A-game.

“Don’t you love it when you’ve got a live Derby chance?”

Winning jockey Johnny Allen was just as optimistic about Sunsets’ Derby hopes.

“He’s definitely progressing in the right direction and he’s got a good attitude which goes a long way for those races,” Allen said.

“He’ll go there and give himself every chance.”

Sunsets is part-owned by Melbourne businessmen Ozzie Kheir and John O’Neill, who also won the Derby two years ago with Hitotsu and had Soulcombe competing in the same silks in Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.


Wilkinson lost for words

By Damien Woolnough

Stylist Lana Wilkinson is lost for words when asked who designed her dress.

The Melbourne Racing Club ambassador has been busy promoting the Caulfield Cup in a range of outfits as well as dressing regular clients.

Lana Wilkinson at the Caulfield Cup.Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui

“By today my brain was all over the place,” Wilkinson says.

Fortunately, fashion memory muscles kicked in and Wilkinson selected a dress from South Melbourne bridal experts Marquise.

The shade of red felt more appropriate for the racetrack than the aisle.

“It also helps to have a room at the track for touch-ups.”


Race three results


‘It might be a bit risky’: Fevola taking fashion risks

By Damien Woolnough

Influencer Mia Fevola has form that drives social media clicks.

The daughter of AFL footballer Brendan Fevola embraced youth over tradition in a mini-mini dress by Australian label Bianca and Bridgett.

Mia Fevola at Caulfield Cup day.Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui

“It might be a bit risky but you have to feel comfortable and stick to your own style,” Mia says.

“The designers are friends of mine and it’s sometimes best to stick with what you know will work.”


Groom pretty in pink at bucks day

By Cara Waters

Nathan Banks has flown down from Sydney for the races along with 23 friends to celebrate his bucks day.

He’s getting married in November which leaves plenty of time to recover before the main event.Banks is unsure what the plan is for the day.

Groom Nathan Banks, far left, and his mates enjoy his bucks Day at the Caulfield Cup.Credit: Cara Waters

“I’m not too sure being the buck,” he says. “It is just turn up, see what happens, go along with the flow.”

Best man Nick Hatz has organised the day which has the theme of “party shirt and party skirt”.

“There are no girls, so it’s just shirts,” Hatz says.

He’s dressed Banks for the day in a pink velvet suit with zebra print lapels and cuffs along with a matching hat.

“We are excited to be here,” Hatz says.

His only complaint is that it’s “a bit expensive” at $13.50 a drink, but that doesn’t bother the groom to be who is not paying.

“We are just moving and grooving,” Banks says.


How track ratings work

By Damien Ractliffe

After a couple of days of warm weather, today’s track at Caulfield has been rated a Good 4 to start Cup day.

Track staff and stewards use equipment to determine how much moisture is in the track, and rate the track’s firmness on a scale of 1-10.

The Caulfield Cup on Caulfield racecourse.Credit: Racing Photos/Getty Images

A Good 4 track is considered the perfect surface, and Racing Victoria requires staff to prepare their tracks to be rated a Good 4 for the start of a race meeting.

Track staff prepare a track by watering it throughout the week – if there’s no rain – to ensure it’s in the perfect range for racing.

The track may get upgraded to a Good 3 later today if the sun and wind dries out the track any more.

Clubs are also given guidelines to make sure the track doesn’t get into the Firm 2 or Firm 1 range at any stage, therefore, track staff spend a lot of their preparation time checking forecasts to make sure they’re prepared for the day’s conditions.

When rain does hit, tracks can be downgraded, into Soft 5, Soft 6 or Soft 7 range, or can be rated a Heavy 8, Heavy 9 or Heavy 10 if they get really sloppy and muddy.


Race two results


Sunsets causes boilover in race two

By Damien Ractliffe

First it was Gold Trip’s silks saluting.

Now, the silks of Caulfield Cup fancy Soulcombe have prevailed, with Sunsets causing a boilover in the Neds Classic – a key lead-up race to the VRC Derby in a fortnight’s time.

Owned by Melbourne businessmen Ozzie Kheir and John O’Neill, Sunsets joins a long list of winners for the prolific owners, who also partnered to win a Cox Plate with Sir Dragonet and a Caulfield and Melbourne Cup with Verry Elleegant.

The son of Dundeel was a $150,000 yearling purchase, but can now be considered one of the leading chances in the $2 million Derby.

Riff Rocket, the short-priced favourite, had every chance to chase down Sunsets, but the upset result is set to make the Derby a more interesting race.

Riff Rocket is owned by Debbie Kepitis, the larger-than-life part-owner of champion Winx.


‘I’m here out of curiousity’: Newcomers enjoying first race day

By Cara Waters

The general admission lawns at Caulfield are getting busier with punters staking out prime positions with picnic blankets and folding chairs.

Doctor Fahi Taba, her sister Farnaz Taba and their friend Negin Yazdani said they were attending the Caulfield Cup for the fashion not the horses.

Racegoers Negin Yazdani, Fahi Taba and Farnaz TabaCredit: Cara Waters

“I don’t know much about horses and the cup itself,” Taba said.

“I’ve been in Australia for 15 years and this is the first time I’ve come. I’m here just out of curiosity and I love dressing up, like every other woman.”


Sunsets wins race two

Sunsets have snuck past more favoured horses to win race two at Caulfield.

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