It’s peak racing time. You’d hardly know it if not a close follower of our sport. Melbourne’s Autumn feature day came and went with barely a murmur – and footy’s media smothering wasn’t a factor during the low-key hiatus preceding next week’s explosion of games.
Despite little opposition (District Cricket Finals anyone?) Flemington will be a wasteland for the Blamey Stakes for which Black Heart Bart, Palentino, Tosen Stardom and He or She have accepted.
Racing Authorities here are right to speculate about change. Sports cultures and habits have evolved. To do nothing is to rot. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.
Personally I interpreted the MRC’s WFA call on their Cup as an ambit claim. Shock therapy. They’ll settle for removal of the re-handicapping penalty for the winner. MVRC let it through to the keeper. The VRC’s discussion re: moving the Melbourne Cup date is timely. They tinkered with the programming last season and the sun came up the next day! Early spring is dominated by footy finals. The Craiglee etc are overwhelmed. The truth, however, may well be that rank-and-file are really only interested in the “showpiece” days – Caulfield Cup/Cox Plate/Flemington’s fiesta – all of which are out of footy season. Still the discussion is worthwhile. As mentioned in previous posts, I’d up the ante and propose a swap of Sydney and Melbourne dates between Spring and Autumn.
Of course, it won’t happen.
What we will have to focus on this week is the biggest success story in Sydney racing of the last half century – the old STC’s promotion of the Golden Slipper and the growth of the day in to arguably the best of the year. This meeting captivates the theatre-goers and the committed. It can transcend the diehards… but, alas, the weather and track are currently the main points of discussion. Yep. Wet again. Heavy9 now and rain forecast.
Unless decimated by scratchings the fields are mouth-watering.
The undoubted highlight, incongruously, is pre-Quaddy – SR5. This is the George Ryder (SR5, 1500m, WFA, G1) and the mid-distance has enabled acceptances from a select/diverse group, including Winx and Chautauqua. It’s not a shallow field. Le Romain swims and Tosen Stardom ran Black Heart Bart to a pimple last start. Rightly, the mighty mare is unbackably short. Looking forward to watching.
Hartnell has conceded the throne to Winx and steps up this time to 2000m in the Ranvet (SR4, WFA, G1). Again, not a big field but real quality, though he’ll be expected to win. The United States and Stratum Star are amongst the main challengers.
The Rosehill Guineas (SR6, 2000m, 3yo, SW, G1) has a grand tradition and is a renowned Derby lead-up. I don’t know this batch well enough to have an opinion so will defer to breeding and form analysts to decide what’ll handle the going and distance.
The Slipper’s the glamour race (SR7, 1200m, 2yo, SW, G1) but it is not one I usually bet in. I’m baffled by blokes who tell me they’ve bet pre-post. Track, barrier… crazy. I’m not as convinced as many (better) judges who’ve discounted Melbourne form. At least the youngsters trained down here have been able to gallop rather than have preps on quagmires. Catchy.
The Galaxy (SR8, 1100m, H’cp, G1) is, as usual, wide open and packed with possibilities. These pickets are hurting to sit on (!) but I couldn’t possibly commit until we see how the track’s playing. Outside draws may well be favoured. Wait. A horse like Russian Revolution has never seen a heavy but performs on slow and has drawn widest. English has solid form and deserves to be at the top of markets.
The meeting finishes with a couple of raffles as the partygoers talk gibberish and the desperates try to get out. Racing lovers take note – the FIVE consecutive Group Ones begin at 2.05 and conclude at 4.50. Don’t miss ‘em.
Internationally, the traditionally soggy Cheltenham Festival is advertising good to soft going as jumps racing zealots descend in great numbers on one of England’s most popular sporting events. I found it underwhelming but, like much in the world, it has moved on in the intervening 30+ years and the coverage is magnificent. Formguides and previews litter the internet.
Busy days. Test match in India, wet track at Rosehill, Champions’ League… what a time to love sport. Even better if you can bet responsibly and find a winner.