It was a mighty race in the Victoria Derby. (Photo: Vince Caligiuri)

The Melbourne Cup Carnival began on Saturday at Flemington and The Inner Sanctum reviews all nine races on the day, including three Group 1s headlined by the VRC Derby.

Race one: Network 10 Carbine Club Stakes

Gates crashed for the first on Derby Day and it was Sandpaper and favourite Pungo from the inside the best away, joining them as the front runner was Lincoln Square and Tijuana. Following them with 1100m to run was Rediener and My Brothers Keeper.

The field was racing well ahead of the track average, Pungo led the way as they began the long turn for home. The favourite was alongside Lincoln Square with a length lead over Tijuana and Sandpaper.

Next in the field was Perfect Thought and Watadeel then a horse back in last place was Big Story as they turned for home.

As they straightened in the first, Pungo was the last to flinch and put a length on the field and would take some chasing, Rediener raced up on the outside with Sandpaper as both looked strong.

With 200m to run it was still Pungo but Perfect Thought had a perfect run through the middle and took the lead with 100 to run and claimed a great win.

First: 11. Perfect Thought

Second: 6. Elkington Road

Third: 4. The Fortune Teller

Race two: Lexus Archer Stakes

They were away at 2500 and Warning and Serpentine led past the post for the first time, third was Crystal Pegasus with True Marvel fourth on the rails. The short-priced favourite Surefire sat in fifth from Chapada and Alegron was last.

The field held position as they raced up through to the 1400m mark. Serpentine extended its lead to about four lengths over Warning, Crystal Pegasus remained comfortably in third and the favourite in fifth was beginning to move forward.

The leading gap slimmed though at the 800m mark as Serpentine looked to make every post a winner.

Turning for the judge it was still Serpentine but only narrowly as Warning and Crystal Pegasus moved up to make a line of three at the 500. Surefire was only a length back and moved to the outside with a brilliant run.

With 200m to go, Surefire moved clear with Serpentine and Crystal Pegasus. Surefire had the endurance and pushed hard good win over a very brave Serpentine.

First: 8. Surefire

Second: 9. Serperntine

Third: 4. Crystal Pegasus

Race three: Paramount+ Rising Fast Stakes

In the first race down the full straight at Flemington, favourite Triple Missile missed the jump and dropped to the back. Sirius Suspect and Gravina were among the front runners alongside The Astrologist. General Beau sat midfield as all 11 horses bunched in the middle of the track.

With 800 to run, it was Sirius Suspect and The Astrologist leading with Ocean Beyond towards the rails. Generation was moving through the leading line giving itself a chance as Triple Missile was still last.

The Astrologist and Generation put a length on the field as Argentia moved up on the far side of the track to claim a lead late in the race. Tripe Missile still had ground to gain but ran out of time as Argentia proved too good.

First: 9. Argentia

Second: 8. Triple Missile

Third: 1. The Astrologist

Race four: Racing And Sports Wakeful Stakes

They were off in the Wakeful Thinking Rain was the best away as they travelled up the back straight. Following her was favourite Jenny Jerome then Pavitra, next in the field was La Gioia and in midfield was Grey Northern.

The field looked to find position before the long Flemington bend as they passed the 1400m mark.

At this point, it was Jenny Jerome who was caught out wide and had to drop back to third. Moving up to the lead on the inside was Thinking Rain and Zennzella.

Among those in the midfield were So Dazzling and Queen Air, with Uptick and Makrana rounding the field as they closed in on the straight.

With 400m to run, it was still Thinking Rain with Zennzella moving up to its outside and striking the front. The new leader was then joined by Pavitra back to the inside with Jenny Jerome and As Time Goes two lengths from the lead.

Zennzella and Pavitra then pranced the field at the 200 but Zenzella couldn’t be caught and won the Wakeful for the Maher and Eustace stable.

First: 6. Zennzella

Second: 2. Pavitra

Third: 8. As Time Goes By

Race five: Tab Linlithgow Stakes

Gates crashed at the 1400m mark and Pride Of Jenni missed the start from the inside barrier and was forced to race up to the leaders quickly.

As the rain belted down Poland was the best away, leading Crosshaven by three lengths. On the inside in third was favourite Tuurath then in fourth through 400m was Wicklow Town.

With just 800 to run, Crosshaven moved up alongside Poland in what was a noticeably quick but wet race. Tuurath then caught the inside as Wicklow Town moved three wide. Next was Old Flame who was generating run and Pride Of Jenni sat fifth seemingly the last of the big players.

As they straightened for the judge, it was Poland who kicked first and put two to three lengths on the field. Old Flame had rolled forward into open track and turned on the jets.

Old Flame chased down a very brave Poland and took the lead at the 100 with James McDonald onboard taking home his third win of five races so far on the day.

First: 8. Old Flame

Second: 14. Poland

Third: 6. Ironclad

Race six: Coolmore Stud Stakes

They were racing at the 1200 and Lofty Strike jumped well, as did Grand Impact from the inside barrier looking to make it four wins from as many starts.

Coolangatta showed good early speed, Best Of Bordeaux joined Queen Of The Ball as the leaders and they were immediately joined by Custodian as they raced onto the course proper.

With 550m to run, it was Doull in the lead with Bews among the front runners. Grand Impact back to the inside was the furthest of about 10 horses across the track within a length of the lead.

Towards the back of the field were Nettuno and Jacquinot who needed a mighty run from their position as the field sprinted for home.

With 300 to run, Queen Of The Ball and Grand Impact raced to the lead, Coolangatta through the middle of the track showed promise but a sparkling run was rising from the favourite In Secret.

In Secret stormed to the front at the 150m mark and never looked back, from near the back of the field recorded a mighty win and ‘J-Mac’ (James McDonald) slammed home his fourth win of the day.

First: 15. In Secret

Second: 17. C’est Magique

Third: 6. Buenos Noches

Race seven: Penfolds Victoria Derby

It was then time for the second of three Group 1s of the day, the Derby. As they set off in front of the 75,000, it was Foujita San by far the best away from Lehndorff, Pericles, Muramasa, and favourite Sharp ‘N’ Smart as they passed the post for the first time.

Behind the leaders through 400 was ranked outsider Aberfeldie Boy, followed by Distrustful Award, Mr Maestro, and Highland Blaze then towards the back of the pack was Grand Pierro and King’s Crossing was last.

With 1600 to run in the Derby, leader Foujita San raced away with a convincing lead. Five or so lengths back was Lehndorff then Muramasa.

Highland Blaze moved up around the outside of Sharp ‘N’ Smart to claim fourth up the top of the track.

With 1000 to the judge, the margin at the front slimmed, with Highland Blaze closing the gap to just a length to Foujita San as the field was really stretched out with 25 lengths from first to last.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart continued a good run as did Pericles. Manzoice was toward the back of the field and rounding the field as they turned for home in the Derby was Skyphios.

Down the straight, it was Pericles joined by Muramasa who raced past Fuoujita San for the lead. Also racing strongly was Distrustful Award while a gap opened for Mr Maestro.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart then danced to the inside with promising speed and struck the front with 250 to go. Mr Maestro continued to give good chase.

Then from the clouds, Manzoice finished with a mighty run to join Sharp ‘N’ Smart, then moved past the favourite and win the Derby with Mick Dee on board for Chris Waller.

First: 7. Manzoice

Second: 1. Sharp ‘N’ Smart

Third: 17. Aberfeldie Boy

Race eight: TAB Empire Rose Stakes

Following the Derby came the Empire Rose, the final Group 1 of the day.

She’s Licketysplit was the best away with heavy favourite La Crique and Belle Plaisir among the front runners. Not far behind was Kiku in the purple colours with Yearning and Excelida among the midfield.

Through 700m, it was still She’s Licketysplit leading by about two lengths ahead of Belle Plaisir and La Crique. Next in the field was Mirra Vision, Kiku, and Palaisipan joined by Daises and Icebath on the inside about ten lengths from the lead as Sahilot and Cliff’s Art concluded the field of 16.

As they turned the corner She’s Licketysplit raced away from the field and La Crique needed to respond.

She’s Licketysplit was joined by the favourite Excelida. Then thundering down the outside was one of the major outsiders, Mirra Vision who made a line of four at the clocktower.

Icebath moved up on the inside from just about last and stormed to the front and stole the victory, to claim another Group 1 win for Craig Williams.

First: 1. Icebath

Second 6. Mirra Vision

Third: 5. Excelida

Race nine: Furphy Sprint

The starter set them away in the last on Derby Day as Apres La Mer was the best starter from the very inside gate. Firm favourite Asfoora also jumped well to move alongside the leader.

Jal Lei and Rose Quartz also moved forward, while Juan Diva was also competitive. Next in the field was Diamonds then all the way back was Shalstar as they headed on the course proper.

With 500 to run, the smokey of the race Apres La Mer had to move all in the race to lead right on the inside rails. Asfoora was in hot pursuit of the leader and under the whip shot into gear, Veranskova gave chase as they closed in on the post.

Asfoora never looked back from the 200 and despite confident chasers from some outsiders of the race in Veranskova and Sneaky Paige, it was to no avail as the favourite claimed the last and John Allen recorded another Derby Day victory.

First: 2. Asfoora

Second: 16. Veranskova

Third: 15. Sneaky Paige

That was all for Victoria Derby Day, with plenty of outsiders causing upsets including the main race of the day.

Up next is the big one, Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday.

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