A brilliant turn of foot, an undeniable will to win and a pedigree that could take her anywhere all came together to earn Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes victory for Lyre at Caulfield on Saturday. Lyre, a daughter of Darley’s ever reliable Lonhro, also benefitted from a faultless ride and a similarly well executed training programme to give Godolphin the second leg of a top flight Caulfield double. On a day when Godolphin landed three Stakes winners for the third consecutive Saturday, Alizee won the Group 1 Futurity Stakes and Avilius continued his march through the ranks with victory in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes. In a race that called for patience, winning rider Luke Currie proved the master, coaxing a late surge from Lyre that carried her to victory over Lankan Star with Free Of Debt in third place.
Lyre, a three-quarter sister to the dual Group One winner and Darley Sire Impending provided Godolphin an eighth Australian Group One win for the season and provided trainer Anthony Freedman with his first by a runner in the royal blue silks. The Blue Diamond was Lyre’s fourth start and her third win, with Freedman suggesting she should have a perfect record. “She's obviously a quality filly and arguably she should be unbeaten," Freedman said. "She's kept improving with each run. They ran a fairly good time and she was the strongest at the finish." Currie was having his first ride on the filly but proved the perfect partner.
"I wanted to be smooth wherever she was and I thought it'd be better to come out into the clear with a bit of room,” he said. “She did the rest!” An outstanding day was completed by Avilius who claimed his seventh Australian victory with his sights now set on the Group 1 Australian Cup at Flemington next Saturday. Trainer James Cummings will then reassess the former Andre Fabre-trained runner who he said may well be turned out after the Flemington race. “He’s a horse who is certainly worth looking after, so I’m attracted to a light autumn campaign,” he said. “He has an aura about him; he’s such an intelligent horse with so much kindness. All he wants to do is give.”
Avilius received a perfect run, camped behind the leaders from the start and was then produced with perfect timing entering the home straight before cruising to an impressive defeat of Trap For Fools with Ace High third. Also on Saturday, Alizee confirmed her place among the top echelon of Australian racehorses with a hard fought but convincing victory in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield. Confronted with her most serious test to date, Alizee produced rare courage and determination to grind out a third Group One win but her first in open company. After a gruelling run three wide without cover, Alizee fought her way to the lead at the 150m pole before establishing a narrow advantage that she held to the line under a confident Hugh Bowman ride.
The win prompted high praise from trainer James Cummings. "They don't hand out these sort of races, and that is probably the toughest I've seen a horse of mine win a Group One," Cummings said. "She's just a brute of a mare and when ridden for a turn of foot, she can be even better." It was also Alizee’s fourth win on end and the third of her current preparation. "I suppose it wasn't pretty, but that's four wins straight for her and that she is a deserving ‘weight for age’ Group One winner," Cummings said. "Basically, she is a very special horse to have in the barn and a pleasure to train." As well as being a superior racehorse, Alizee is an impeccably bred filly, being a half-sister by Sepoy to Godolphin’s Group One winning sprinter and Darley sire Astern, a son of Medaglia D’Oro.
Alizee will now go for the world’s richest mile race, the $5 million All-Star Mile on Saturday 16 March. While Cummings regards that race as her major autumn target, he hasn’t ruled out extending her preparation to include the rich offerings over the coming two months of the Sydney carnival. “Her grand final is the Melbourne race, but I think there could be enough petrol in the tank to take her back to Sydney for another run,” Cummings said.