Champ Ace High takes out the Victoria Derby

| November 24, 2017

Ace High was far too good in the Victoria Derby at the Flemington Racing Carnival

It is that time of the year again when horse racing fanatics come together at the Flemington Racecourse for one of the most prestigious events in Australia. The Melbourne cup festival draws attendees from all over the world, where racing die-hards get their souls fed by witnessing an array of significant races.

Competition, entertainment and sophistication all roll into one to deliver an outstanding four-day festival. Tensions ran high and that is of no surprise considering the sum of money that there was at stake this year with the 2500m Victoria Derby amounting to a whopping $1.5 million. The fans were also tensed up, especially those who were cheering for the underdog. Expecting the unexpected is in fact the motto, by which many horse fanatics live by, namely those who have witnessed an underdog’s triumph. After all, surprise winners are a part of every sport and it is indeed the sudden turn of events that engulf the supporters.

The premier staying race for three-year-olds kicked off the four-day cup carnival with Ace High taking the victory home this year, scoring a dominant two-length win over Sully, who placed second. The race must have felt like such a roller coaster ride for the fans, where the lead changed hands several times. Johnny Vinko, Sully, Tangled and Weather With You all savoured the sweet taste of being at the forefront at some point throughout the run. The win was a huge relief for jockey Angland who was convinced that he had blown his chances when $7 Derby favourite Ace High was wide from the 1000m mark, “I was worried I blew it, I could hear everyone (the crowd) cursing and I was cursing myself”, Angland said. But he kept his cool and did not let panic take over, letting the horse settle himself into rhythm and taking the surge when he found his perfect position. Luckily for him, fate had other plans in store for Ace High when he fuelled through the finish line taking out the $1.5 million Victoria derby.

This victory was very heartfelt for the Sydney 175cm jockey who has constantly struggled with his weight; “I haven’t had even ridden a winner in Victoria before, I’ve had a lot of placing’s but I just haven’t been given these sort of opportunities”.  Angland had his fair share of success stories, renowned as the most prolific winning New South Wales apprentices in a season, but none of them compare to the aptitude of winning the Victoria Derby.

South African trainer David Payne, who started his training career in 1972 at only 24 years of age, also shared Angland’s enthusiasm. Payne moved to Australia in 2002, looking to turnover a new leaf and start afresh. He had set his eyes on the colt at the 2016 Magic Millions whilst everyone was busy looking for sprinters on the Gold Coast. This victory was undeniably the sort of breakthrough that he was after, fulfilling his long-held aspiration to win the Victoria Derby, “we’ve been planning the Derby since he was a two-year-old, not long after we put him into work,” Payne said. The race that sent shivers down his spine at the exasperating sight of seeing the horse being pushed wide during the running, is the very same race that brought about a stunning performance and victory. The champion trainer in South Africa has finally had his dream come through, following three previous attempts, placing second with Praecido in the 2010 race, his fourth place with galloper Criterion in 2013 and finally his eighth with Honorious in 2012.

The future seems to hold many exciting plans for Ace High, with Payne suggesting that the ATC derby (2400m) would be the next big step for the three-year-old galloper before he leaps into next year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m), “Why not, we won’t die wondering,” he says, referring to a possible 2018 Melbourne Cup Campaign.

Safe to say, that prominent events like the Victoria derby and the recently launched Everest competition, the latter witnessing Redzel take out the 2017 inaugural running of the world’s richest turf race , must have seen an enormous influx of fans rolling the dice hoping to turn their wheel of fortune. Everyone wants to nail the winner, betting enthusiasts try to seek opportunities where the bookmakers offer higher odds than expected, risks increase and money rolls deep within every long shot that is called.

A part of the human innate ability, or perhaps better described as a ‘habit’, is to challenge the odds and shoot in the dark – sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Then there are those individuals, who are not as comfortable as others when it comes to placing their luck completely in the hands of fate; the meticulous lot who put together a well-thought-out checklist based on past horse racing trends and other detrimental factors, with the hope of foreseeing the end results.

Racing purists and whooping wagers are not the only attendees that are present at the Melbourne Cup festival. Although the main focus is of course horse racing, one cannot underestimate the top notch social entertainment that is staged, attracting special guests and high profile celebrities, boasting their best outfit yet. Traditionally, women are seen in black and white clothing and men dressed in their mourning suits. It is also common seeing many guests carrying a blue cornflower, a practice that was introduced back in 1962.

We all seek our own personal thrill in life, and many fans consider horseracing to guarantee precisely that (and more). The Flemington racecourse can definitely vouch for it, hosting thousands of attendees from all over the world for a festival that leaves the race-goers wanting more. Oh well, there is always next year!

Category: Betting, Racing

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