Balmuse scores decisively in the Kelt Capital Stakes

Balmuse's victory, rather than Starcraft's defeat, was the biggest story out of yesterday's $1 million HBRI Kelt Capital S. 2040m G1 (or, its registered race name, the Ormond Memorial).

That may not have been the impression conveyed by some media reports, but it was definitely what the crowd's reaction indicated when Balmuse swept past Starcraft in the straight. There was no stunned silence, only sustained cheering and yelling for the five-year-old gelding bred by Jim Wallace Senior at Ardsley Stud and trained by part-owner Kevin Myers for his fellow-owners Dan O'Leary and Paul Connor.

Afterwards, Starcraft's popular trainer Garry Newham graciously acknowledged that his horse had been beaten by a better horse on the day. In an interview before the race he had said that "only bad luck" would beat Starcraft who looked thoroughly worthy of his favouritism: big, powerful, handsome and full of himself.

Ah, racing is a grand game of uncertainties. After brilliantly winning the first two legs of the Carnival's Triple Crown, Starcraft undid himself yesterday. He was clearly unhappy with the slow pace (in a field deprived of front-running speed by St Reims' scratching), so rider Glen Boss let him take the lead 1000 metres from home. The big chestnut seemed comfortable there, but his restlessness had already cost him his best chance of winning the race, at least in the withering, off-the-pace manner he's been used to.

The challenges came on the turn, with Balmuse, giving Starcraft 2kg under the wfa scale, quickly making the strongest bid. He then cleared out to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths with his ears pricked and Jamie Bullard standing up in the saddle.

Starcraft did well to hang onto second, a nose ahead of Zafar (Zabeel) who responded gamely under pressure. Irish Rover, Lashed, Sedecrem, Floydeboy and Distinctly Secret followed in close order, within a span of one-and-a-half lengths.

Balmuse, a medium-sized, lightish type, has not been entered for Cox Plate into which yesterday's win would have given him automatic entry. And ironically, he's not yet certain to make the field for the race he is entered for, the Caulfield Cup on 16 October, although the manner of yesterday's win has surely been noted by the Melbourne Racing Club committee which can exercise its discretion to compile the final field.

Balmuse's pedigree summary.

- Susan Archer


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