As 2017 draws to a close, we look back at some of the South Australian Racing highlights from this year.
1. Hey Doc Ends the Wait for McEvoy & Mitchell
When Hey Doc hit the front at the 200m in the Group One Australian Guineas, it was a moment seven years in the waiting for Tony McEvoy and Wayne Mitchell.
McEvoy had tasted Group One success with Fields of Omagh when he was in charge of Lindsay Park in 2003 but after starting up his own stable with Wayne Mitchell in 2010, Hey Doc gave the two moment they will never forget.
Hey Doc had a nice sit for the majority of the run and after a nice move from Luke Currie to take his mount up on the inside rail, he hit the front at the 200m and never looked back.
Hey Doc’s fantastic 2017 continued when he saluted in the Group Three Aurie’s Star in August before claiming the Group One Manikato Stakes in October. He was also named the 2016-17 South Australian Racehorse of the Year in September.
2. Spying On You Returns the Great Eastern to SA
When Spying on You held on for victory over a grueling 4950m around the famous Oakbank Racecourse, former jumps jockey Grant Young managed to do what no South Australian trainer had done in fourteen years, win the Great Eastern Steeplechase.
The David Halliday trained Raquets was the last locally trained winner all the way back in 2003 and funnily enough three years prior in 2000, Halliday and Young combined to win the Great Eastern with Young in the saddle.
Spying on You will now go down in history as the last horse to win the Great Eastern on Easter Monday as the feature race will now move to Easter Saturday as of 2018.
3. Magic Man’s Morphettville Debut
In a major coup for the UBET Festival of Racing and the South Australian racing industry, the world’s best jockey Joao Moreira made his South Australian racing debut on Schweppes Oaks Day in May.
‘The Magic Man’ came across from Hong Kong to ride the Lindsay Park trained Sheidel and Sebring Dream in the two Group Ones on Schweppes Oaks Day and while he didn’t manage to ride a winner, his presence gave the reborn carnival a significant boost and showed that the carnival can attract both high-quality horses and jockeys.
Moreira was incredibly humble and relaxed during his short stay in Adelaide, happily having a chat and photo with many industry participants and racing fans.
4. Egg Tart Gives McEvoy Another Hometown Group One
In one of the all-time great finishes to an Australasian Oaks, the Chris Waller trained Egg Tart pipped Darren Weir’s Kenedna on the line to give Waller his first South Australian Group One victory and Streaky Bay boy Kerrin McEvoy his first hometown Group One win since the 2010 South Australian Derby on Kidnapped.
McEvoy followed Egg Tart up north for the Brisbane Carnival where they combined for another Group One win in the Queensland Oaks.
This was just a sign of things to come for McEvoy in 2017 where he collected eight Group Ones across the year and victory in Australia’s richest race, The Everest aboard Redzel. He was also inducted into the South Australian Racing Hall of Fame in September.
5. A Star is Born in Vega Magic
The new addition to the Lindsay Park Stable, Vega Magic had not raced since December 2016 after moving over from Perth but he came into the Goodwood with an impressive CV to his name with nine wins from 14 career starts including two at Group Three level.
Vega Magic with Craig Williams aboard, jumped perfectly and drove forward to be amongst the leaders at the turn. He looked to tire for a moment in the straight but kicked back beautifully to drive to the line and hold off Missrock and Casino Wizard.
There was a lot of support for Vega Magic in the lead-up to the big race ($6-$4) and he rewarded the punters and gave Williams and David Hayes their first ever Group 1 Goodwood victories.
Vega Magic continued his amazing form across the border, winning the Group 1 Memsie Stakes in September and flashed home for second place in the $10 million Everest behind Redzel in October.
6. Jamie Kah Cements Herself as One of Australia’s Top Jockeys
2017 has truly been a year to remember for Jamie Kah.
At the end of the 2016-17 racing season in July, she officially held the record for the most wins in a season by a female jockey with 130 victories to her name. She beat the previous record of 111 which was jointly held by Linda Meech and Clare Lindop.
Her 130 wins in the season saw her finish in seventh spot in the Australian Jockey Premiership alongside some of the best hoops in Australia.
For the third time in her career, Kah was crowned the winner of the John Letts Medal in September and also took home the Glennon-Johnson Award for South Australian Metropolitan Jockey of the Year, UBET South Australian Provincial and Country Jockey of the Year and South Australian Jockey of the Year at the TRSA Industry Awards Luncheon.
Her new association with leading trainer Tony McEvoy saw her ride in Melbourne over the Spring Carnival and pick up a Group Three win in the Sandown Stakes with Dollar for Dollar.
She has continued her amazing form this season, already amassing 63 wins which has her in fifth place Australia wide. Her success has seen her represent South Australia in the UBET Origin Jockeys Series in Queensland as well as the International team in the Jockey's World Cup Prelude in New Zealand.
7. Excites Zelady Claims His Third Murray Bridge Gold Cup
The Chris Bieg trained Excites Zelady might have to be known as the ‘King of Murray Bridge’ going forward after his talented miler added a third Murray Bridge Gold Cup to his resume.
The 2014 & 2015 winner was unwanted in the market after some below average runs coming into the Listed feature and jumped at $26. However, the seven-year-old produced a gutsy run for Justin Potter and held off the fast finishing Magic Consul to claim his third Murray Bridge Gold Cup.
The $27k yearling purchase has now gone on to win over $545k for connections including three Listed Murray Bridge Gold Cups and the 2013 Group 3 Breeders Stakes.
After Zipping’s fourth win in the Sandown Classic, the race was renamed in his honour. What will happen if Excites Zelady can salute again in 2018?
8. Kah and Balfour Combine for a Fabulous Five
Saturday 25 November started like any other day at Morphettville Racecourse but no one could have guessed what would occur that day.
The in-form trainer Ryan Balfour and superstar hoop Jamie Kah managed to combine for five winners on the card, making for a truly memorable day at Morphettville.
Their magical day started with a win in Race 2 with Rushwa saluting and then the pair combined for a race to race double with Magnus Knight in Race 3.
Kah and Balfour were agonizingly close to making it four from four with Cashed missing in Race 4 by 0.1 lengths and Infinity Queen only missing by 0.3 lengths in the fifth.
After some heartbreakingly close losses the pair bounced back and took the final three races on the card with Cobber, Kirona and Trupt all winning comfortably, giving them five wins and two seconds for the day. A truly remarkable achievement.
Balfour’s feat of five Adelaide Metropolitan winners has only been beaten by legendary trainer Colin Hayes who trained seven winners in a day while Kah’s achievement in the saddle will go down in history as one of only four jockeys to ride five Metropolitan winners on one day in South Australia.
9. Group 1 Glory for Viddora
After being the bridesmaid on two occasions at Group One level, SA’s ‘Queen of the Turf’ finally got the Group One victory she thoroughly deserved.
The Lloyd Kennewell trained mare was in sensational form heading into South Australia’s first ever $1 million race, the UBET Classic and flashed home to run second behind runaway leader Secret Agenda.
A spot in the Group One Goodwood was hers for the taking two weeks later but injury forced her out for the Autumn Carnival and her sights were set to the Melbourne Spring.
Her first up assignment was in the Group One Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley and after being held up at the turn, she grew wings and flew home just to be denied by a nose on the line by She Will Reign.
But it was a trip across to the West at the start of this month where years of hard work paid off for Kennewell and his speedy mare put the Winterbottom field away with a perfect ride from Joe Bowditch.
We’re set to see Viddora up on the Gold Coast in a couple weeks’ time before another tilt at our own Festival of Racing in May.
10. Casino Wizard Goes Back to Back on Boxing Day
Heading into the final Stakes race of the year, all the talk was about Will Clarken’s impressive new kid on the block Steel Frost but Boxing Day belonged to one of the state’s most consistent and underrated gallopers, Casino Wizard.
Steel Frost had been a revelation since joining the Clarken yard winning five of his six runs heading into the Christmas Handicap including winning the Listed City of Marion Stakes and looked the one to beat. No one told that to Casino Wizard.
The Lee Creek trained sprinter was also in good form but just hadn’t been able to find the line first. All his previous runs had been at Stakes level and he had four placings from six starts. He was also last year’s champion in this race.
Once the gates opened, Casino Wizard and Jason Holder started perfectly and sat just off the leader, Go The Journey for most of the trip until Holder called upon the seven-year-old at the 200m and he ran on beautifully for a memorable victory.
The win capped off a fantastic year for the gutsy sprinter which included two Listed wins and a third placing in the Group One Goodwood.