Happy Derby Day,
But before we take the great day apart a few other headlines have been shot across the bow!
Ricky don’t lose that number.
There is nothing like a spat in cricket to create a few and the Ponting/Clarke/Taylor saga has finally got my attention. The sheds in all elite sports are always full of large egos, to get to elite level players will usually have had to display a certain level of selfishness and self-confidence. What Ricky said about Micky was not of any surprise, but just that he said it. I can understand his disappointment in Clarke not contributing as Vice-Captain, we have seen the quality and creativity in Clarke’s captaincy since he took the reins. Punter sure could have used it, great batsman led by example but captaincy could best be described as “safe”. I wonder how much of the book covers his own failings?
The Fix is In
Not too many surprises with the AFL 2014 Fixture as details had been leaked all week. However in the same way in which Channel 7 hijacked the main races at Caulfield and Moonee Valley they have done the same with the AFL and the Sunday Night scheduling. They have schedule blockbusters so crowds are guaranteed, as such they will deemed a great success. However it shows no consideration for supporters from regional Victoria, that can’t attend due to the time to get home and then work on Monday. Channel 7 will be pleased as they will pump up their numbers, but a complete lack of consideration for the fans.
As for the supposed “fairness” of the fixture, some astounding anomalies given the “process”. Using my primitive rating system Brisbane have the fourth toughest draw after finishing 12th, is someone out to get them? Then Richmond who were finalists have the third easiest. The biggest winners were the Dogs who play GWS, Melbourne and Gold Coast twice. Much more to look into over the summer months, but they have a fair bit to do make it “fairer”.
The toughest day for this pontificator with 9 group races set for decision – but also a day for the purists (Sorry Crio). But before looking forward a look back at the Cox Plate. Much discussion about the worthiness of the winner and the merits of allowing a maiden into the “Heavyweight” championship of Australasia. I suspect most of the criticism has largely come through the hip pocket, mind you the fact that a maiden was able to win should put a focus on the genuine quality of the race. As I wrote last week the race was either an afterthought or a cup trial for much of the field, this can often be the case. But it was as usual a race of intrigue and unfortunately took a great toll. Then the bigger intrigue being what would have happened should have Atlantic Jewel not been injured?
As for results on the day some criticism can be fired this way. A short price winner, steered away from Catkins, a couple of Quinellas and nothing in the main event!
But it is straight on to the biggest day of racing on the Australian Calendar. Interestingly I note in the conditions for most races on Saturday “maidens are ineligible” the exceptions being the 3yo events. Whilst Derby Day is the biggest racing day of the calendar, the track has to see out another three big days over the week. The track manager often has tough decisions to make to ensure they get through the week – watch the early races for patterns. Derby Day has been seen to be leaderish on occasions.
The Main Event for the day is the VRC Derby (G1, 2500m, 3yo SW)
Having observed this race over many years my rule of thumb is the smaller the field the higher the quality. This year we have a full field plus two emergencies, but it does not lack for quality especially with Darley having three runners. The best form appears to be with the Sydney visitors but they have all be given the visitors draw, the 200m to the first corner will be critical to their chances. We saw last week how a poor barrier can destroy chances. Here is a summary of the field.
Criterion – chased home Complacent in the Spring Champion, but doesn’t seem to have the bloodlines that say stayer and a maximum winning distance of 1200m.
Complacent – has never missed the quinella in 5 starts, won the last 3 including the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes and sired by an English Derby winner. Whilst the distance is always a query, he has just about everything ticked but for a wide draw.
Savvy Nature – treated rivals with contempt in the Vase and will be better on the expanses of Flemington, still has to be able to deal with a wide barrier. Could feature, but I am happy to stick with the form and reckon Complacent will finish ahead of him.
Polanski – has the best “Melbourne” form winning two key lead up races including the Norman Robinson and drew the number one marble. Cannot be denied and if the form is superior then he must rate a huge chance.
Drago – has looked like a derby prospect since competing in the top 2yo races in the Autumn. Form was building and looked like he could run 4000m till he was ridden upside down in the Vase. Could not win based on that performance, but with Ollie on board and a pretty similar profile to stable mate Fiveandhalfstar it is a risk to say no. SOB (Son of Bart) does not have many short-priced winners, this will be at massive odds given the outside draw.
San Diego – swap the runs in the Robbo and he probably beats Polanksi as such must be a great chance. By Exceed and Excel puts some doubt about being able to stay, however very strong staying pedigree on mum’s side with Zabeel being his Grandpa.
Honey Steel’s Gold – Stuck on in the Robbo and form OK but not outstanding – can only win if none of the others can stay.
Tips and Beers – Stormed into calculations with a last to first romp at Caulfield, built to stay. Hard to have after the Vase but can be entertained if you ignore that run. Might present some value.
Epic Saga – has chased Polanski home in the last couple, based on last start I doubt he could beat Polanski but note he was drawn out wide. Not out of it but others appeal more.
Tupac Amaru – Form is fair, coming as the 3rd stringer for Darley, certainly has the breeding to stay the distance but would be a surprise result.
Pinstripe Lane – has been thereabout in all his runs but never seemed a threat to win. Based on that I expect he will run the trip out, but likely to have another one do it faster.
Throw the King – by Elvstroem from a Zabeel mare screams out Derby Winner. However only broke his maiden two starts ago and Geelong Classic form (3rd of 5) is impossible to judge given the heavy track on the day. Might have to be the SA Derby.
Thunder Fantasy – maybe he is the better chance for SOB with Robl taking the reins. Was well beaten in the Spring Champion, suspect he will be again. 5&½*, 5&½* ,5&½* ,5&½*
Surging Wave – Another that has not threatened to win but has finished off races well, could the extra distance get him to the line first? Will go back so the wide draw is not an issue. Hayes produced a placegetter at odds last year, it could happen again here.
Famechon – Didn’t fight it out in the Robbo and still a maiden, not hopeless but happy to discount.
Bring Something – By Sebring doesn’t say Derby but a few of his offspring seem to be faring well over longer journeys. Maybe Sebring retired before we could see his capability. This son finished the Robbo in style as well as his other 3 starts, has the right pilot and could be running on.
Cadillac Mountain (Emergency) – Connections would be pleased to have a runner.
Empire Rock (Emergency) – Ditto
The barrier draw has thrown selections everywhere and whilst I rate the Spring Champion Stakes form superior, I reckon the Robbo will stack up. Making San Diego the prime selection, as stated Polanski had the drop on him in the Robbo. Reverse the runs, Reverse the result? Predicting Complacent to make the best of the wide barriers. Cannot ignore Polanski and will probably represent the best value and looking for the Hayes pair Tips and Beers and Surging Wave to be in the finish. History should be noted and there are a couple of points to raise. The Derby is a tough race to tip with the average winners price being $20 over the last 10 years. While winners can be at long odds, the only winner that did not run a place at its previous start since 1986 was Redding back in 1992.
Selections Race 7 – 6-2-4-8-3-14-16-1
The corks pop for the first at 11:20 with the Carbine Club Stakes (G3, 1600m, 3yo SWP), plenty of these have been running against each other and of those the set weights look to favour Paximadia who returns to Flemington after failing at Caulfield. Hucklebuck could not have been more impressive at Caulfield, can’t ignore Sydney form and Best Case was a last winner, I Am Titanium has been racing consistently. A few other hopes but you can’t have them all.
Selections Race 1 – 1-2-5-6
The Fillies are on trial for Thursday’s Oaks in the time honoured Wakeful Stakes (G2, 2000m, SWP). May’s Dream gets the chance to validate her favouritism for the Oaks, never out of a place, 2nd to Guelph and space to 3rd in the Thousand Guineas is good enough for me. Arabian Gold was outstanding at Caulfield even with the query over 2000m, no reason she won’t run well again. Solicit will grind on looking for the 2500m and Kirramosa brings good form from the north. Refer might represent some extra value.
Selections Race 2 – 3-2-4-7
The Hotham Handicap this year known as the Lexus Stakes (G3, 2500m, Qlty HCP) sees 14 Melbourne Cup entrants contesting, Ethiopia is safely qualified for the cup the other 13 are taking their last throw at the stumps to get a run on Tuesday. I suspect that will mean plenty of pressure and pace on early. The one exception is Brigantin who could spoil the party but would be a surprise given his form. A tough race to pick as many of these have prior convictions, the one that doesn’t (at least here in Australia) is Ruscello who also has a strong second up record. Ironstein is back, on the limit weight, and meets his last conqueror Kingdoms 5kg better. Bass Strait continues his consistent form and Araldo was a last start winner over this journey (albeit in the stewards room, grrrr).
Selections Race 3 – 15-8-9-6
The Group Ones begin with the most valuable racehorse in the land charging down the straight in the Coolmore Stud Stakes (G1, 1200m, 3yo SW). A look through the honour roll reveals plenty of quality winners and many of them favourites, which makes Zoustar an obvious selection and giving The Pumper a huge chance for his 100th Group 1 victory. None of the opposition have a CV to match him, but there appears to be plenty of untapped talent in the race. The biggest wildcard is the filly Missy Longstocking, 8 from 11 and Queenslanders have a good record on this day. Thermal Current was not that far away in the Golden Rose and won well last week beating Not Listenin’tome who was equally impressive getting a torrid run. Divine Calling split Long John and Shamus Award in the Guineas which is great form, but not sure about the drop back to 1200m. Lion of Belfort has been outstanding winning his last three and the others aren’t hopeless either!
Selections Race 4 – 1-9-5-8
The second Group One of the day also provides a ticket to the dance on Tuesday with the LKS Mackinnon Stakes (G1, 2000m, WFA). Mourayan and Dear Demi are safely qualified; Mr Moet, Jet Away and Moriarty all need a win to ensure their place. G Boss has gone all in on Jet Away to get himself a ride in the cup and his Caulfield Cup effort was extraordinary, but there were three better and one of them was Dear Demi and based on that form I reckon she can win. The one caution being that she doesn’t have to. Solzhenitsyn keeps producing against the odds, here he steps up to WFA and 2000m a big test but he can measure up, Moriarty rarely puts in a bad performance.
Selections Race 5 – 9-6-4-5
The Group Ones finish with the Myer Classic (G1, 1600, Fillies and Mares WFA) one of my favourite races on the calendar. A shame this year that there are no fillies in the field, would have loved to have seen Guelph up against her elders. The field still oozes quality and whilst her performance in the Tristarc left a lot to be desired I am sticking with Xanadu, Each Way, to reproduce her Group 1 NZ form. Red Tracer won the Tristarc and meets most of these better on the weights, Sharnee Rose is flying as is Catkins who just keeps putting in but has a nasty gate. A few other chances especially Fire Up Fifi, Cameo and Zonza but you can’t have them all.
Selections Race 7 – 5-1-4-14
The handicap for sprinters was downgraded to group 2 in 2007 – its sponsor has also been downgraded from the Salinger to the Yellowglen Stakes (G2, 1200m, HCP). Fair to say it also has the second level of sprinters with the best of them chasing the Group 1 WFA event next week. Shamal Wind is becoming a costly conveyance, but meets Spirit of Boom better for finishing second to him at Caulfield and returns to the scene of her stunning win last year. Fontelina won this race last year at big odds of course for SOB, 2nd in the Rupert Clarke is good for this. Spirit of Boom is going very well and Pago Rock keeps presenting good runs. It doesn’t end there though – should be a fun Quaddie!
Selections Race 8 – 11-4-1-6
We complete the day with a few beverages but before that we must contend with the last race the TAB.com.au Stakes (G3, 1400m, HCP). At least it is not the main event as we had at Caulfield and Moonee Valley. Looking for a shorty to narrow the Quaddie down, but no such luck with another open affair. British General has won three times over this journey all with G Boss in the saddle, he returned to form last start and usually holds it well. Strike the Stars brings a win over 1400m down from Sydney, Strawberry Boy beat all but Boban but can he just hang on and Galah was not far behind him. Centennial Park brings fair form down and a great record over this journey.
Selections Race 9 – 8-10-5-9
We got through to the last leg last week but I was not anywhere close to Shamus Award. This week is wide open and that is probably what the wallet needs to be along with a bit of riding for luck. Cause its Derby Day we will bump our investment up to $50 but a graduated 4 ticket spend to try and bump the dividend too.
Investment 1 – $30
We are going pretty wide and hoping we get a couple of $20 chances up
1260 Combinations for 2.3% of the dividend
Investment 2 – $10
Narrowed down all legs removing longer odds selections.
72 Combinations for 13.9% of the dividend
Investment 3 – $5
Identical to Investment 2 but leaving Red Tracer one out in the second leg.
24 Combinations for 20.8% of the dividend
Investment 4 – $5
Going for Gold!
4 Combinations for 125% of the dividend
Great to get it – but very tough!
I trust anyone attending will have a great day and hope that you can all find a collect or two. I will be ensconced in the members car park but might even get on track to watch a couple of races.
Good Luck to All,