Crio’s Racing: The Cup – a punting proposition?

The romantic notion of the Melbourne Cup was of all-comers having a shot at the prize in the big smoke – from Archer walking in to town through canny Kiwis and JB plotting to beat the Handicapper.

But Australian racing has changed. Like most sports it is global and big money dictates. Sprinters are sired by millionaires’ shuttle stallions and our Cup has become the plaything of Internationals – and those such as Lloyd Williams who have adopted the “if you can’t beat ‘em” model.

Incredibly, it’s the Derby, the bluebloods’ beacon, which has this year given us the battler’s tale. Bought for $4000, Polanski had too much heart for flashier opponents. In another of my occasional jobs, colleagues deal with trainers and I know that they’ll all be thrilled for “Robbie” – Robbie Laing, Cranbourne trainer and now Derby winner – who is always upbeat and a really popular bloke.

His was one of several great moments from Flemington on Saturday. I’ll overlook the negatives (and there are several that deserve later scrutiny) and just cite some of my highlights before we embark on another massive day at HQ.

The classy winners were undoubtedly Waller’s G1 victors – the mighty Zoustar in the 3yo 6f and Red Tracer in the Mares’ Mile. Both were great milestones for their hoops. Pumper’s 100th G1 is an incredible feat – it’s typical of our Industry that we can call him “good for racing” (and, truly, a “colourful racing identity”). Nash’s ride on Red Tracer was perfect. He’s had a tumultuous spring with Gai nowadays promoting Tommy Berry. Suspect at the trip, Red Tracer reefed and looked uncomfortable but Rawiller got her to settle and, knowing he had only 150m of push under him, waited for a final desperate surge at stablemate Catkins to snatch the prestigious prize. Epic.

A wonderful day. Winning trainers included British stalwart Andrew Balding, Darley’s rep Peter Snowden, the customary Cummings name (this time A.J. again), but also Robbie Laing and Wez Hunter.

Brilliant sunshine and a big crowd, the VRC must be very pleased.
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We reconvene early on Tuesday. Rightly, the races before midday are not worth a look. Unfortunately some of us have to turn up for them.

Pleasingly, they improve thereafter, with some pretty good fields spread over a ridiculously long timeframe.

Arinosa should be too good in MR4. Last year’s “Greys” champ, is a tight quote.

MR5 is an especially good race. Robbie Laing is living the dream now and will saddle Lord of the Sky (8) as a popular elect. 1,2,4 amongst plenty of chances.

MR6 looks skinny. 3 and 6 dominate markets.

An hour later there’s the Cup. I’m baffled at how anyone can pretend to be confident tipping in this. No one has seen all of the runners. Conditions are alien. All speculative even by our norms. European bred horses have established a stranglehold so logically that’s where to look. A judge I respect tipped me in to Verema a long time ago. Down in the weights and likely to race forward, it has to be in the mix. Unlike many, I reckon outside barriers are not a disadvantage, especially for “Invaders”. I still shiver at Sky Heights being wedged in to the rail from Barrier 1 when it should have been the premier contender. There’s a 6 furlong run to the winning post so the horses have lots of time to sort themselves out. Some need cover to stop them over racing, but European style is to have some space to get in to a gait. Verema, in my only knock, is unused to a big field and will be cramped from 3. The jockey is a gem and it does push forward so might be OK. I certainly don’t see Mount Athos’ wide draw as a negative for it and Craig Williams and there are great reports on this horse’s condition – plus the added opp for more photo shots of the trainer’s daughter if it salutes. The local to respect has to be Dear Demi. Clarrie Conners is a genius and this has been an old fashioned prep. She is one who’d have rathered a cosier gate and Monkey Munce will have to find a sit. As usual an open race and not really a punting proposition.

By MR8, nearly another hour on, trains and their patrons will be full and, for those who remain on course, the fuzzy focus will have expanded to fillies and fizz of other kinds. In backyards BBQs will be lit and workplaces and schools outside Melbourne will struggle to regain normalcy.

In the betting ring MR8 and 9 are noteworthy but will be lost to history. The last is unnecessary unless you are an owner involved.
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For many Australians another of life’s signposts will have been marked. The 2013 Cup. An incredible number will claim to have picked the winner – you’d reckon this must be a bookies’ nightmare! The Herald-Sun will have its photo of the winner sipping from the Cup (and, they hope, the bonus of Francesca in the dream Mounting Yard!) and venues across the country – from bush racetracks to pubs/clubs/restaurants/ cabbies/hatters..in fact, all of hospitality – will be thankful for the annual windfall.
Hopefully for us the bookies are doing likewise.
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The first Tuesday in November. All Australians know what it means – surely it was on that “citizenship” test along with The Don’s average?

It’s truly an age old tradition and, as such, deserves more meaningful discussion – none of this twitter tripe.

Knackers will be convening over a drip tray at the All Nations in Richmond tomorrow. It is a venue worthy of the occasion. I’m prepared to guarantee Group 1 company but not necessarily G1 winners. But we’ll be trying and, in the great Australian way, happy to consider all views. And, for sure, we’ll have a good day and good memories.

That’s what the cup, ultimately, is about. Join us if you can.

And good luck!

Comments

  1. Is the Cup a punting proposition? Not for me. 2 winners in a lifetime ( surely I’m a better punter than that) Just a Dash and Kensei so I’m on a 25 year drought. Should have been 3 winners though, I was on Doreimus when G Hall went the early crow and I still reckon it won…but no one paid out so I’m stuck on 2.

    This year I’m putting the kiss of death on Varema and Sea Moon. Varema’s win in the Prix Kergolay was unbeleiveable and it’s been a great form race recently and looks very well handicapped on that at 53Kg. I think Sea Moon has been building and he will be near the speed and tough at the end.

    The support card is as usual average but as get outs later in the day, I’m going for Gris Caro in the 8th, Richies Vibe in the 9th and Lampedusa in the last. I expect to spend the day a Morphettville enjoying the various views.

    Good luck punters.

  2. cowshedend says:

    I’m with you Jock, never been a huge rap, had much of a go or had great success in the
    cup, 2 mile handicap and the only other 2mile race was the dirty Duke of Norfolk in the middle of winter, a glorified hurdlers flat.
    This year, after a very mediocre carnival the Cup is an absolute standout in both quality and depth.
    good luck to anyone who can find the winner, let alone the exotics.For what it’s worth I like Simenon, but you could have 15 stabs and still not find the winner.
    As per usual too many piss poor races to fill the card, the well travelled Pelicano could just about win the 9th.
    Hope ya fill ya pockets!

  3. There’s a 2 miler at Echuca tmrw too!
    Deane Lester’s gone for Seville?….Metrop formline

  4. Dear Demi or Fawkner but I wouldn’t be surprised if either Seville or Green Moon won

  5. My track record is worse than you Jock and I agree with you Cowshedend- one and only winner 1967 and Im keeping to one bet today Avoid Lightning with a small e/w

  6. David Downer says:

    The most oft-used phrase re selections this year appears to be… “but you can’t fit them all in”.

    As per musings at the lunch…

    Simenon is my top pick. 53.5kgs, stays alllllll day, but does have a turn of foot. H.Power run surprised, demonstrated he ain’t just a plodder. W.Mullins putting even more speed into him too.

    Then saving around Hawkspur, Fiorente, Seville and Mount Athos. May have chipped in with Dunaden late also. Wary of being Lloyded on Sea Moon or Fawkner.

    Will be a race where any of 15+ runners will win and you’ll comment “jeez I had a real close look at that one!”

    Good luck…

  7. Seville & Verema from Hawkspur, Dear Demi, Fiorente, Mt Athos and Sea Moon.

    Good luck.

  8. Hey DD…
    You can’t fit them ALL in…….

  9. Of course its a punting proposition. We get a holiday for it so its practically compulsory to have a bet on the race. I’m going for Masked Marvel at big odds.
    Good luck to all.

  10. Skip of Skipton says:

    What other race are you going to get 50/1 Super Cool (yesterday), or 16/1 Fawkner?
    It’s the best punting race of the year.

  11. Cowshedend says:

    Oliver and Waterhouse win the biggest show in town… I feel violated!!!!

  12. I think you previously called tnem “morally compromised”. Shouldn’t influence the punt.
    Olly is still a gun hoop on song.
    Verema the tragedy.
    Great crowd. Good day. We broke square. I won.

  13. Did they forget to muck out the stables this morning or did the Waterhouses and “once in a lifetime” Ollie win the Cup?
    Alas Pommy Tommy could only get set for $100K instead of a mill. Outrageous. I am sure he has never closed his book on winning punters with inside mail that is consistently “too good to be true”.
    The flashing smile and patter of confidence men everywhere, whose faux flattery enlists the pea and thimble to finesse pennies from the eyes of dead men; urge their widows to buy their fascinators from Good Sammies come week’s end; and extol the virtues of a cardboard Pritikin diet for their orphans.

  14. Not running with the ” good for racing” tagline?
    My fav whipping boy, Bryan Martin, even managed to fit a shameless plug for the Gai scam he is part of as the winner hit the line.

  15. David Downer says:

    Was in the car last night listening to SEN and they replayed B.Martin’s call of the Cup. I had to switch it over at the 800m mark – knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach that last stretch given the winner (who most of us actually backed too!). Living the dream, give me a spell! #rort

    PB – most elegant prose posted in this forum yet.

    As JTH said elsewhere, lunch attendees would/should have done very well yesterday. Like @RVCarps, Robbie Griifiths’ annual invitation should quickly be upgraded to “time honoured” status.

    Still feeling a bit sick re the Verema outcome. The highs and lows…

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