There’s something about a Handicap event that connects with Australia’s sports psyche….the Stawell Gift, The InterDominion and, of course, every town has its Cup Day for the gallopers, the grandest of which is undoubtedly Melbourne’s on the first Tuesday in November.
The Caulfield Cup, an arduous mile and a half around the Heath due to be contested again this Saturday, is the next most celebrated. Maybe it is the “fair go” ethos or, just as likely, the chance of a “sting” – whatever the rationale, it means that the best horse does not have a right to win and thus, when a Champ can overcome the opposition and the weight impost, it’s stature is assured….Redcraze (63kgs), Rising Fast and Tobin Bronze (61.5kgs), even the vanquished like gallant Gunsynd, 3rd with 62kgs, have forged their legend in the race that tends to frame markets for its big brother 17 days later.
This year’s edition seems to lack quality and diversity, with weights raised and fairly compressed, but we’ll let history be the judge. Sweeps are being cut from the papers, corporates are luring accounts with fantastic deals and the workplace footy pest is morphing in to a racing tout.
The big race is, as is MRC’s wont, last of 10 on a mixed, epic card. I reckon there are lots of runners with no hope – ordinary draws, hard track and lack of form puts a line through most. Take your pick. Mine’s Silent Achiever, a watch on Dandino and a bet at big odds on Moriarty.
The programme kicks off at the reasonably civilized time of 12.15 but punters won’t engage much before R3, The Ethereal, where the boom Arabian Gold (2), plunged to beat Guelph 2 starts back, comes to town. Hayes’ Star Fashion (4) is the main challenger, but there’s always a watch on Clarry Conners’ runners, in this case Refer (12).
The Norman Robinson (MR4, 3yo, 2000m, G3) is a traditional Derby prelude. I have no grasp on the Derby colts this season, assuming NSW form is superior. No bet here (Orion the selection).
A real drawcard is Boban (MR6, No1) in the Moonga (G3, 1400m). Might be the Spring star, but is dropping back a furlong. Only the pace and track are obstacles – class is not an issue.
The Quaddy leads off with the Sprint. My tip – do not take a Quaddy! If somehow obliged, try these (or your powerball numbers/postcode…)
MR7 – 10, 11
MR8 – 3 (Gris Caro a lock in the old Coongy)
MR9 – fantastic race. Field leg. Put in 6. Maybe 18 if it gets a run (or back it at Seymour on Sunday if it doesn’t)
MR10 – whatever.
The weather forecast is perfect so hopefully you can enjoy the Caulfield Cup – just the name evokes memories of time and place. It is a Cup Day in so many places and one to be relished. I reckon Avoca would be a nice spot to watch this week, but there are also Cups at Deni, at Innisfail (check the name of R1 there), Stanthorpe and dotted around the nation. I’ll be at the track, of course – this time, though, helping on the Lillis/Kilmartin stand on Caulfield’s lush front lawn so more able to engage a chat and, naturally, offer best odds to any Almanackers who come up for a chat…Budge will be also be at the stand! Must be a big day!