The Derby and the Doncaster don’t need the “Championship” badging and attendant hype as reassurance of their status in Australian racing. Whilst the massive money hikes and aggressive advertising will lift the general profile, these have long been jewels in the national racing crown that have provided indelible memories for racing lovers. My favourite Derby recollection is of finding a TV in the TAB in the bowels of the Southern Stand where shoulder to shoulder punters roared while Octagonal somehow found the strength to blouse Saintly and Filante (1996 – honourable mention to 1992). In the Doncaster, More Joyous was simply wonderful in 2012 and, of course, Super Impose scored the impossible “double-double” in 1990/91.
It is nigh impossible to avoid referring to the 3yo Classic as anything other than the AJC Derby. Pitched at peak time – Autumn – it truly is the best of its type and has again attracted a fascinating cast. Rain threatens so wait until late to make your final calls but, however you look at this race, Rosehill Guineas victor Criterion deserves to be high in calculations, despite drawing a gluggy marble. Bracket him with some roughie wet trackers such as Gallatin (8) and maybe even the Pumper’s 100/1 mount (15).
The Doncaster Mile, like its Spring sibling, The Epsom, manages to maintain the intrigue of handicapping conundrums, overlaying quality sprinters on the stretch with stayers relying on the testing terrain and the usual honest pace to bring them in to it “at the rise” – it can be a raffle but has thrown up a wonderful mix of memorable winners over its storied history. Despite the QE2 lure of 2000m and $4.5m next week, this Classic has held up and the winners will treasure the title as much as the prizemoney. Dear Demi E/W @50/1
The main “supporting” race on the day, the T.J.Smith (1200m, WFA, G1) has grown in status in the last decade and has attracted a terrific field this Saturday – as it should, now boasting a $2.5m purse. My fav edition of this race was probably in 2009 when Takeover Target screamed “I’m not old!”, strutting to victory over Northern Meteor and Apache Cat. There are some “punters’ pals” in the 2014 field too, none more so than the toppy, brave Buffering, which doesn’t look all that badly treated at WFA. Quinella with Zoustar. There’s a capacity field and a million ways of working it out – arguably the race of the day.
The fourth G1 is the problematic Sires (1400m, 2yo), a rich and worthy goal that been swallowed by a generation of Slipper hysteria. As such it can sometimes seem to be an afterthought of its brash cousin, when juveniles may be “over the top” and, especially this year, flattened from soft tracks. But the honour roll has some fair pedigree – despite occasional small fields, there’ve been memorable moments such as Pierro’s towelling of All Too Hard in 2012. It does not look a vintage version this time around. As a betting proposition it is a shemozzle – G.A.Ryan has 4 of the main fancies! Avoid.
This is a landmark day for RacingNSW. Hopefully they get a big crowd and great racing.
I’ll be watching soggy Sydney from a likely Heavy Heath, where mudlarks will be all the go.
The heavy hitters will all be on parade at Randwick leaving plenty of opportunities for the next tier of horses and hoops.
The Quaddy legs are not too bad but fields will likely be slashed if this weather continues – constant drizzle for the entire day today (Wednesday) with no change predicted.
Some punters love bog tracks – they argue that it eliminates many who just “don’t go”. I like the philosophy but will hold my fire until able to gain a more accurate reading.
Until then, as always, any tips and comments are appreciated.