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Crafty Cruiser scratched from Geelong, bows out of racing after 159 starts

The Advertiser 2020-07-31 10:15:00

After 159 starts, 13 wins and more than $1 million in prizemoney, Crafty Cruiser’s passage into richly-deserved retirement came more with a whimper than a bang.

Almost a decade after his first race-track appearance – a sixth at Sale on September 23, 2010 – the greybeard cult figure has bowed out ahead of his 13th birthday on Saturday.

But the decision to scratch the evergreen stayer from what would have been his final start at Geelong on Friday was in keeping with trainer Bryce Stanaway’s rigid approach to firm tracks.

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Faced with sending the chestnut to Geelong for a final hurrah on a Good 4 surface, Stanaway scratched his stable flag-bearer.

“He means too much to go to the races to run on a Good 4,” Stanaway said.

“He’s the soundest horse in the stable and he’s been in the same paddock here for 10 years.

“We’re not taking any risks with him, so we left him home.”

Under the national rules of racing, the evergreen galloper was automatically retired on Friday ahead of his 13th birthday on Saturday.

Winless since April 2018, Crafty Cruiser placed several times in 34 subsequent starts.

Stanaway said his warhorse would remain at the trainer’s Torquay property as a paddock boss and training partner for younger gallopers.

Included in Crafty Cruiser’s credits are two Listed victories – the 2013 Ansett Classic (2400m) at Mornington and the 2015 Roy Higgins Quality (2600m) at Flemington.

“He’s fit and sound and you can’t even take him out of the one paddock he’s been in for 10 years,” Stanaway said. “My horses are not boxed, they’re out walking around, they’re happy horses, they’re not prisoners.

“He could have gone today, there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s the soundest horse on the place. But it if it’s a good four, why go?

“He’s been a fantastic horse.”


The Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) in Flemington shapes as a springboard for established Group 1 performer Vow And Declare and a fork in the road for rising star Russian Camelot.

Trainer Danny O’Brien was delighted with the pair after a 1200m gallop between races at Geelong on Friday.

O’Brien rarely pits Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare against SA Derby conqueror Russian Camelot in work but an understated restricted provincial meeting on a Good 4 surface provided an ideal pre-spring hitout.

“As much as anything, they were here to have a day out,” O‘Brien said.

“Vow And Declare led the gallop because he likes to bowl along in his work and Russian Camelot just sat back off him.

“I’d have to go back and analyse the sectionals, but they really seemed to enjoy it and appeared comfortable. They’re both good horses so they‘ve probably run good time anyway.

“Damien (Oliver) said Russian Camelot was very competitive and wanted to get up there to Vow And Declare (Daniel Moor) but he made sure he relaxed.

“They joined each other in the straight and went to the line with plenty in hand so it was the perfect piece of work.”

O’Brien said the Makybe Diva Stakes would provide a gauge of how Russian Camelot measured up against proven WFA gallopers ahead of a possible Cox Plate assignment on October 24.

“We’re keen to see how Russian measures up to those weight-for-age horses,” O’Brien said.

Alternatively, Russian Camelot could be set for the October 17 Caulfield Cup or the Melbourne Cup on November 3.

Vow And Declare will bid to join Archer, Peter Pan, Rain Lover, Think Big and Makybe Diva as a multiple winner of the 3200m handicap.

Originally published as Crafty old warrior misses out on last hurrah