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Crystal Lily

Winning owner David Moodie, normally a cautious man, gambled and won the 2010 $3.5 million Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens, the world’s richest race for 2yo thoroughbreds when his filly Crystal Lily won by half a length after attempting to throw the race away in the last two hundred metres when she took control of leading hoop Brett Prebble’s riding and almost ended up in the 27,000 crowd.

Moodie had paid a $150,000 late entry fee after his charge had blitzed them in the Sweet Embrace only three weeks before at Rosehill. Also, Moodie, only a few days ago, knocked back a $2 million offer to sell Crystal Lily to Mike Iavarone, the owner of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown. Iavarone hoped to race the filly in his name and colours.

However, for connections of Slipper rival Solar Charged, Crystal Lily spearing to the outside fence in the home straight proved a disaster after their filly was badly checked at the 100 metre mark when narrowly behind the eventual winner, who managed to hold off Clarrie Connor’s colt Decision Time (another late entry) and the fast finishing John Singleton owned filly More Strawberries.

How she got to where she finished the race was astounding as she had drawn the despised barrier 1, though was quickly out of the machine and took up a handy 3rd position behind Solar Charged and the Kembla filly Chance By before making her move on straightening for home.

“We should have finished second, it has cost us a lot in prizemoney (a mere $620,000),” Solar Charged’s not too happy trainer John O’Shea said after the filly’s sixth place (prize-money is paid up to 5th place). “I wouldn’t have beaten the winner but I should have finished a damn sight closer.”

“They can''''t take it off us in the stewards’ room, can they?” a worried faced Moodie asked immediately after the race. If it had been Royal Ascot or say Longchamp in Paris, the answer would have been a “Yes” or a “Oui” and his filly would have been relegated to behind the horse that suffered the interference in its running. Crystal Lily would have been shunted back to 6th, Solar Charged promoted to 5th and Decision Time would have been the extraordinarily lucky winner of this year’s Golden Slipper.

With a million dollar sign in each eye he then added “If she goes straight how far does she win by? I’ve been racing horses for 25 years and won a Caulfield Cup and a lot of other Group 1 races but this is pretty hard to beat.”

There was more drama to come though as winning Jockey Brett Prebble, down from Hong Kong for the ride, could not fend off vigilant stewards, who inquired into the reason he allowed Crystal Lily to shift off the track inside the final 200m of the race, with Solar Charged’s jockey, Hugh Bowman, confirming he had to check his mount off the winner’s heels to avoid a fall.

“I believe I’ve done the best I could under the circumstances,” Prebble argued. “I change my hold over. I use the whip and put it away. Whatever I did wasn’t working. I wasn’t out there riding to win at all costs.”

Following the last race, Prebble returned to the inquiry and reiterated “It wasn’t my fault. She (meaning Crystal Lily) should be made to return to the barrier trials.”
He then added: “What did you want me to do?”
“Stop riding,” chief steward Ray Murrihy replied.
“I did,” Prebble said.
“Not for a half a stride,” Murrihy quickly added.”
Prebble responded with, “It is a Golden Slipper and I’ve got to do my best to win the race, and look after my fellow riders.”

Prebble then informed stewards he stopped riding when it seemed that Crystal Lily, a Melbourne filly more used to having the running rail on her near side as they race anti-clockwise in Melbourne, as against the Sydney clockwork direction of running, was fast closing in on a collision with the outside fence.

“Self-preservation is all right, but Hugh Bowman is not?” Murrihy then questioned.
Murrihy went on to describe the check to Solar Charged as “quite severe” in the opinion of the stewards, however Crystal Lily’s wayward antics were taken into consideration when handing down the errant jockey’s punishment of a $5,000 fine and suspension for nine race meetings. His share of the $2,000,000 Golden Slipper 1st place prizemoney is 5%, ie $100,000 plus any sling the owner may give, especially for coming all the way from Hong Kong.

“It is going to cost me the Hong Kong (jockeys’) premiership but I’ve won a Golden Slipper,” Prebble added after the lengthy and at times feisty stewards’ inquiry. Prebble with 66 winners leads Douglas Whyte by 6 and will miss 2 Honkers meetings.

PS - the writer, Carbine, had a good day at the races, backing the Golden Slipper winner at $7 and the winner of the last race, the Gai Waterhouse trained Swift Alliance, at $5.

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