Back to Flemington this Saturday before the Heath hogs the calendar, with HQ’s next fixture then being the greatly anticipated Black Caviar Lightning Stakes on Feb 16. It’ll certainly feel like the Autumn Carnival by then if, as expected, the mighty mare graces the straight.
Meanwhile we are in a bit of a holding pattern, with a disappointing City meeting this week. The worthy “feature” is the Listed, $120,000 Kensington Stakes. This 1000m scurry, however, is marked as Race 3 on the card – only 6 acceptors and a likely long odds-on pop mean it is not a strong proposition for the TAB and its Quaddy pool. I actually reckon that First Command is well unders at $1.65 but I understand the dilemma. What I can’t fathom is why the race is either so badly placed +/or supported by trainers!
The TAB has long had a considerable voice in deciding race times and placements in an attempt to maximize wagering – thus the ridiculous gaps between races each Saturday to allow SKY to do a dash between venues …all of which, it can be argued, deserve and require their “place in the sun”.
The role of the TAB and its future are topics, perhaps, for another day, but it is notable to reflect on one of the TAB’s great administrators and his connection with last and this Saturday’s racing.
The main race last week was named for Sir Chester Manifold, son of a remarkable Victorian and, himself, a key player in 20th Century racing. As recorded on the ARM site:
“Sir Chester is seen as largely responsible for the introduction of the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) in Victoria which he saw as the best means of channeling back into racing the vast sums of money lost to illegal bookmakers. He served as the first Chairman of the TAB (1961-1968) and was held in high regard by all sections of the racing industry.
Sir Chester also enjoyed great success as an owner-breeder. His best-known horse was the outstanding steeplechaser Crisp which was narrowly beaten in the 1973 Aintree Grand National Steeplechase.”
The link to this Saturday is that Chester Manifold is one of two diverse yet prominent racing characters to have been born in Camperdown, the pretty farming centre in the sport’s heartland between Geelong and Warrnambool.
The Camperdown Turf Club hosts its Cup Day and, for those able to make the trip, it will be a fantastic occasion at a really lovely course. I know there are Almanackers who have a special interest in Grandstands and they should note the Heritage listed structure which dominates the track. So many of them are gone but the distinctive Federation style testifies horseracing’s social importance in those times.
The “other” notable racing man from the area is to be recognized by an initiative this year commemorating the district’s most famous hoop, the long serving and recently retired dairy farmer known to all as “Nifty” – Neville Wilson. The leading jockey on the day will be honoured to receive the prize. What punter doesn’t have anecdotes and fond memories of a fella who seems to have always been around? For the record, he lists Redelva as his best mount.
Nifty still rides some work down there for his old mate Geoff Daffy. Hence I’d be keen to have something on the G.A. Daffy runners engaged – Gowana (R1, No9) and Still My Friend (R3, No7). Both of these are to be ridden by AJC Derby winner Rhys McLeod.
The Cup (R6, 1600m, $20,000) is an interesting races and the bookies will be edgy with strong stables such a Tony Vasil (The Wingman)and Darren Weir (Gotta Keep Cool) looking for a sting, whilst the Wilde and the Cerchi boys can never be discounted in important events in the Hampden area.
Great event, good racing – highly recommended. (I expect some of our Knackers to be down there so would love a report).
Of course I’ll be swinging the bag on the Rails at Flemington and taking an interest in the Quadrella.
Any opinions to add?
MR5- 1410m. 11,8,7,16
MR6- 1720m. 1,3,15
MR7- 2000m. 2,3,7
MR8- 1410m. tough. 10,6,11
The Blue Diamond Preludes start next week as racing (and the rest) try to grab some “airtime” before the AFL bulldozer sweeps through the media space. Momentum is building – my punting bank needs to do likewise!