What a year 2018 has been on the racetrack at The Valley! We’ve seen plenty of highlights in the last 12 months and have recapped our Top 5 moments of the year.
5. PAYNE POSTS FIRST CITY WIN
August 25 was a significant day for the Michelle Payne story, which added a new chapter when Sweet Rockette took out the MSC Signs Plate. The triumph was Payne’s first city winner as a trainer since becoming a dual license holder. The owners certainly made plenty of noise to mark the occasion, with an all-female syndicate that included Layne Beachley and Rachael Griffiths.
4. QUEEN OF THE VALLEY RETAINS THRONE
Young gun Steph Thornton earned the title of ‘Queen of The Valley’ last year and the momentum certainly continued into 2018. Riding at an 18% strike-rate this season around the circuit, Thornton has ridden 13 winners at The Valley in her career and that number is rapidly building each week.
3. VICTORIA’S VIDDORA CLAIMS GROUP 1
An all-star field faced the starter on September 28 for the Charter Keck Cramer Moir Stakes and while all the build-up was focused on Nature Strip, somewhat forgotten was the new Victorian based Viddora. Joe Bowditch and Lloyd Kennewell were quietly confident and teamed up to take on the big guns and the win was a demolition job and well overdue. The win was the biggest of young Kennewell’s training career and was certainly popular with fans and her many owners.
2. CHAUTAUQUA BOWS OUT… ON HIS TERMS!
While it may not have been a highlight as such, it was however a fitting send off to a champion of the turf. On September 28 the racing world held its breath as all eyes turned to The Valley in hope that ‘The Grey Flash’ would jump in a barrier trial and be given the green light to race again. Unfortunately, not for a second did it appear the 13-time winner wanted to spread his wings and run. What makes it the number two highlight, however, was the send-off the adoring Valley crowd gave him. Tommy Berry trotted him down the straight as he waved and received cheers for the horse’s deeds - he was one in a million and holds a unique place in racing folklore.
1. WINX WRITES NEW CHAPTER IN HISTORY
It was a build-up like no other and the Ladbrokes Cox Plate was the most talked about race not only in 2018, but possibly long before that that. Winx’s incredible winning streak all came down to a never attempted fourth W.S. Cox Plate triumph. Chris Waller’s preparation had gone to perfection and a sell-out crowd turned out in anticipation of witnessing an ‘I was there’ moment. They weren’t disappointed when Hugh Bowman and the mighty mare chased down Benbatl to race her way into equine immortality – “cometh the hour, cometh the legend” bellowed Matt Hill fittingly. A moment we will never forget.