Handicap at Flemington provided the most exciting finish of the current racing season when
a wall of horses hit the line locked together in the $752,500 feature.
On Tuesday week the connections of Australia's leading sprinters
will be having another race, but their chargers will not be with them.
One of the sprinters who shone during a great season will
be crowned as the country's best at this year's Australian Racing Champions night at Crown
Palladium in Melbourne.
Can Falvelon make it two straight sprinting awards? Will
Mistegic's consistency be rewarded? Were two Group One wins enough for Sudurka? Can the
youngster North Boy take it? Or will the recently retired Show a Heart bow out of racing
in the best possible way?
All of these questions will be answered
when the Thoroughbred Executive Travel Champion Sprinter is announced next Tuesday night.
Last year Falvelon was a unanimous winner of the award and
he is again in contention in 2002. In the past season Falvelon only won two races from his
eight starts, but during the same period he also netted five minor placings.
Falvelon, who's trained by the Eagle Farm based Danny
Bougoure, scored his best win in the year in Hong Kong. He downed a field which contained
champions from around the world, including the universe's top ranked speedster.
In a driving finish at Sha Tin in the A$1.7 million feature
Damien Oliver and Falvelon edged out Morluc in a thrilling finish after the 1000 metre
dash. The other Australian representative Century Kid was fourth.
The five-year-old son of Alannon scored a popular home town
win when he downed Show a Heart and Lord Essex in the Doomben 10,000 in May and then went
desperately close to taking the feature sprinting Queensland double.
In the Stradbroke Handicap the entire chased hard but
failed to grab another home town hero Show a Heart. A mere half neck separated the pair at
the end of the 1400 metre event.
During the season Falvelon also placed in the Manikato
Stakes (third), Schillaci Stakes (third), Emirates Classic (photo finish second), Wyn
Estate Cup (neck second) and the Stradbroke Handicap.
Winning the prize as Australia's most consistent sprinter for the season is a
clear cut result - it has to be the Lee Curtis trained three-year-old Mistegic.
When he scored a shock win at 40/1 in the San Domenico
Stakes at Kensington when resuming, it was a sign of things to come.
At his following ten starts before being spelled the
gelding was only unplaced once, on that occasion finishing fourth and beating home
talented gallopers including Falvelon and North Boy.
Wins in the Schillaci Stakes and Schweppes Stakes were
later in the season matched by a dashing win in the Group One The Galaxy at Randwick.
During the season he also placed in the Challenge Stakes
(beaten a long neck), Lightning Stakes (half length), Oakleigh Plate (length), Newmarket
Handicap (half head), Roman Consul Stakes (three quarters of a length) and Starlight
Stakes (half length).
Joining Mistegic as a three-year-old with a genuine chance of knocking off the
older horses in the award is the Tony McEvoy trained son of Rory's Jester, North Boy.
The youngster started off the season in great form by
winning the listed Vain Stakes and the Group Two Ascot Vale Stakes. He scored two other
wins later in the season.
Among his excellent non-winning efforts was a photo finish
second in the Newmarket Handicap, a short head second in the L'oreal Plate and a long neck
third in the Australia Stakes to Toledo and Show a Heart.
North Boy's best effort for the season was clearly his
runaway win in the Krisflyer Sprint at Group Three level in Singapore. With Greg Childs in
the saddle the gelding dashed away for a runaway, track record breaking win. Toledo was
One of Queensland's other favourite sons is the recently retired
entire Show a Heart. Trained by the Eagle Farm based Barry Miller he was a dual Group One
winner during the season.
A winner of the Toorak Handicap in October the son of Brave
Warrior scored an emotional win when he came with a perfectly timed run to edge out
Falvelon in the Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane. The Stradbroke was his last start before
being retired to Glenlogan Park Stud, where he'll be serving his first mares this spring.
His Stradbroke win followed a gutsy second to Falvelon in
the Doomben 10,000 after he covered extra ground from a wide barrier. His other high class
effort was when he ran a narrow second to Toledo (beating North Boy) in the Australia
Stakes at Moonee Valley.
The Brian Mayfield-Smith trained Sudurka, a five-year-old recently retired son of
Perugino, was the only galloper to win two Group One races in the sprinting range.
His only two wins for the season came in the Melbourne
Group One double of the Salinger Stakes at Flemington in November and the Oakleigh Plate
at Caulfield in February.
The gelding rounded out his eight win career by running a
0.7 length seventh in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington, a race won by his stablemate
For profiles on the leading contenders click here.
My vote went to Mistegic.
PICS - Quentin