Midnight Blue Claims Caulfield

Date: 5 May 2024

Midnight Blue Claims Caulfield

Concluding a well rounded week for Te Akau Racing, Midnight Blue (7 g So You Think – Midnight Special, by Zabeel) won the A$150,000 Benchmark 100 Thoroughbred Club Australia Handicap 2000 metres on Saturday at Caulfield (Melbourne). 

Winning twice over 1400 metres last Saturday at Te Rapa, with Freeze Frame and Malborough Bay, the Wellington Cup (Gr. 3, 3200m) winner of last year Leaderboard chimed in winning the Maiden Hurdle (3200m) on the first day of the Warrnambool Carnival in Victoria, and two-year-old Discretion Rules (Alabama Express) added the Champagne Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Riccarton. 

Trained by Mark Walker from the Te Akau Stables at Cranbourne (Victoria), Midnight Blue made a successful return to racing when surging late for close second in the Bairnsdale Cup (1600m) on 24 March. Although not the same second-up in the Terang Cup (2156m) on 14 April, he made amends with a grand front running performance. 

Ridden by former Te Akau apprentice Daniel Stackhouse, originally from Ashburton, Midnight Blue set his own terms in front with an uncontested lead, quickened clear inside the 600m, and was in no danger to score easing down by two and a quarter lengths.

It was a well judged ride by Stackhouse, currently third on the Victoria Jockeys' Premiership, and a resounding return to form by the 2022 Perth Cup (Gr. 2, 2400m) winner, who has recorded six wins from 1800 – 2400m including the Ascot Gold Cup (Listed, 1800m).

“There didn’t look a lot of speed in the race and he’s got a big action on him, a nice free-flowing sort of horse,” Stackhouse said.

“He enjoyed the track (Caulfield), rather than some tight turning tracks, and we took bad luck out of the equation and went a nice enough gallop. 

“We got left alone, built up from the six (600m) and didn’t hear anything coming, so it was a nice easy win for him.

“He felt that he was really happy in the gallop that he was going. He gets over further and I knew I had a lot of horse underneath me and he was travelling the whole way.” 

On Good4 footing, Midnight Blue ran 2000 metres in 2:02.8, last 600m in 34.9, and dropped quite dramatically in betting from $21.00 fixed to pay $10.90 & $3.30 on the NZ TAB tote.

“It was a great win today,” Walker said. 

“Sometimes these older horses that have been out of form for some time, they just need a change of environment and that’s the beauty of training at Cranbourne.

“There is so much variety in the training facilities. He’s been schooling over the big hurdles, and the beach is just a short trip up the road. He’s loved working out the back in the sand dunes, as well, so a combination of things has helped rejuvenate him.

“Ben (Gleeson) and the staff have put a lot of TLC (tender loving care) into this horse and really worked hard on restoring his confidence. It was a huge thrill for everyone, today, to see him win like he did.

“And well done to Karyn (Fenton-Ellis MNZM), who said we should have a crack at buying him when I first showed her the horse, and she has since found the owners to take up shares in him. So we need to extend plenty of thanks to Karyn as well.”

On course at Caulfield, assistant trainer Ben Gleeson said: “It was head-scratcher at Terang, we were really confident on the back of Bairnsdale (Cup), where he probably should have won.

“It was quite shifty at Terang, and if you go through his soft (track) form it is terrible.

“He showed us no negative signs at home and galloped the house down on Tuesday morning, and he looks amazing, dappled up, and has a new lease on life. 

“When David, Karyn, and Mark bought him and said let’s have a go at resurrecting his career and turning him around, and he’s just lived out in the sand dunes. It’s a massive compliment to the Cranbourne facilities.

“Credit to Stacky (for leading) and I said to him that the horse was spot on for this race.

“We’ll be staying on firm ground with him and looking for some country cups or suitable handicaps.”

Owned by Te Akau Midnight Blue 1 and Te Akau Midnight Blue 2, Midnight Blue was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $92,500 at the Inglis Digital 2023 November (early) Online Sale.

By New Zealand bred sire So You Think (High Chaparral), purchased as a yearling by Bart Cummings at Karaka, who went on to win 10 Group One races internationally before becoming a leading sire for Coolmore Stud, Midnight Blue is out winning Zabeel (Sir Tristram) mare Midnight Special, and a half-brother to well performed NZ racehorse Demonetization (All Too Hard), who won 10 races including three Group Two wins and a Group Three.  

With a strike rate of 3.7, Walker is the best credentialed Metropolitan trainer this season in Melbourne, have presented 49 runners for 13 wins.

Midnight Blue was strapped by Harrietta Herbert. 

Photo credit - www.rsn.net.au


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