Whilst the after-party concept has been enthusiastically embraced by young Australia, grizzled punters are not as committed and hence the much travelled “Willy/Sandown and again at Caulfield” meeting this week struggles to maintain racing’s foothold as media moves on to Royal Melbourne for the Golf, the Gabba for the cricket and, of course, the omnipresent AFL rumour mongering.
Despite its virtual invisibility, I’ve usually enjoyed this weekend, treating is as a top notch country Cup Day rather than comparing it with Flemington’s fleshfest. My boss hates it – he and many other bookies have an annual wipe out – but there’s usually a different, happy crowd and a sense of what the “new-age” track was like when first opened in the 1960s. The gazetted races are terrific but the acceptances patchy.
It’s a familiar programme – the Merson Cooper, the Kevin Heffernan, The Eclipse, the Summoned and the Sandown Stakes and Guineas plus the problematic Cup and Classic. The old Sandown Cup lost its gloss and eventually morphed in to the Classic, renamed for Zipping after his multiple successes. With G2 status and at WFA, it was hoped this would be a jewel at the end of the Carnival. It is not. Complicating matters, the old Cup name has recently been revived for a 2 mile Handicap. As I’ve said, it appears to be a fantastic meeting – 2@G2, 4@G3, 3@Listed and from 2yo scamperers via the Classic 3yo distance, an open middle distance WFA and even the testing 3200m for stayers – yet it is a bridge too far for the goldfish attention of most of today’s racing “fans” who’d only just put their Ford/Holden caps away in time for the Des Gleeson Trilby and now the Greg Chappell wide brim is on the hallway hook!
Stalwarts will stick fat so here are some Quaddy quandaries to reject!!!….remember that Sandown is being renovated so we at only halfway down Dandy Road this week with a likely wet track at the Heath.
Don’t restrict your study to just these races as it is a broad programme; the depth is evident by the Sandown Stakes (R5) missing an exotics berth – in this I’d expect Richie’s Vibe to continue its winning way and Galah (3/1!!) to finally be recognized as the muncher that has chewed betting vouchers for so long. Crossroads for horses such as this (in the Lake Sententia model) which have consistently been under the odds and under performers this Spring – other nominees?
MR6- G2, 2400m, WFA. – MRC is lucky to get a Precedence/Sertorius rematch, with Queenstown the wild card. Epingle might be the blowout.
MR7- G2, 1600m, 3yo. – Snowden knocks up winning these sorts of races. Paximadia (1).
MR8- G3, 1200m, WFA. – Tough race. Best of the day. Look for value. It is Written (20/1)?
MR9- G3, 1600m, Mares, SWP. – 3 as anchor.
After a sodden week the prospects appear brighter for the weekend – check ahead for conditions and, if suitable, Melbournians should consider some other great racing options for Saturday – either the legendary Dunkeld meeting (surely Hornets’ Nest wins the Cup) or the more laid back picnics at Yea. And on Sunday there’s the strong Donald cup meeting – the Dunkeld/Donald double would be quite a notch. All are highly recommended.
As usual there are plenty of other discussion points pertinent to racing.
Sydney has this week announced an audacious plan for some incredible Autumn riches as the ATC puffs out its chest to challenge Melbourne’s (inter)national sporting status. The racing system was a mess up there and a lot of hard work has been done (though I suspect there is a lot of “cleaning up” still required). The rebuilding of Randwick and rebadging of the Clubs needed some stimulus and this seems to be it – in spades. I used to think you can’t just invent a race and buy kudos with big prizemoney, but that’s the way of the world – look at Dubai. Unfortunately there does appear to still be an embarrassing Empire obsession at “Royal Randwick” – the main race and probably grandstand will be QE2 and the Princess Stakes a highlight – whilst I’m not advocating for a Pumper Plate or Singo Stakes, I reckon we’ve moved beyond that. It is certainly going to be fascinating to watch how the concept works and whether the NSW Gov’t and Racing Authority receive a good return on a massive investment – and, of course, the quality of horseflesh attracted and the knock-on effect elsewhere.
But, for the moment, that’s their problem. We’ve got our own winners to find. Any halp would be greatly appreciated.