AJC Derby: Quality and intrigue

by Chris Riordan

Racing purists love the Randwick Carnival which begins this Saturday with The Derby. The AJC Derby is Australia’s premiere 3 year-old event and the 2010 edition has quality and intrigue. Whilst discards like Manhattan Rain reinforce my “no pre-post” evangelism, those who make it to the barriers are chasing prestige, stud kudos and a rich purse.

VRC Derby winners rarely train on so we’ll discount the topweight. Most punters will focus on the three outstanding Guineas winners from the past month when choosing a fancy. Zabrasive’s Rosehill Guineas win probably entitles him to favouritism and he looks capable of using his good gate to box seat and be in the finish. Bart’s surprise, but emphatic, Australian Guineas winner, Rock Classic, has continued to thrive and, together with Queensland’s exciting Randwick Guineas hero, Shoot Out, looks suited to the big track and certain to mount a challenge “up the rise”. This will be a thrilling race and I can’t really decide on a bet…perhaps a sniff of Count Encosta at 20/1.

The Group One T J Smith has been a raceday highlight in the last two seasons. Apache Cat’s brilliant 2008 win was avenged in slashing style when Takeover Target blitzed an elite field with an unforgettable spurt last year. Again it will be a small but outstanding group of sprinters and the locals will be cheering for Hot Danish to break her Group One drought. Cases can be made for most of her opponents, including Newmarket winner Wanted, but I’m very keen to back fresh specialist Mic Mac and declare that, if right, he’s a good thing. The day’s other group One, the Sires’ Produce, is a 1400m event for two year olds, often wrongly decried as a Slipper consolation. I don’t have an opinion on this year’s crop and will offer no advice.

Further study will be required today (Friday) to secure some “get-outs” in the last two, which are pretty open affairs. No Quaddy, that’s for sure.

Flemington’s fields are massive, even and not bad. As competitors drift north, Froggy Newitt has a chance to nail some good rides and push up the jockey’s ladder. He’s on one of my “last chance” horses, Pre Eminence (R5), ironically my spec in last year’s AJC Derby, and second up here should be ideal at double figure odds. Another young gun, Ben Melham, pilots Flying Ruby in the last. This mare has been breaking hearts and wallets and is not a punting proposition at short odds. Here she’ll be at good odds in an honestly run race and might be worth a ticket.

Updates will be posted as names “jump off the page” and hopefully others engage in some analysis.

Back from the Oakbank Carnival, I’ll not be on-course for a few weeks, but we can still get set by phone if you are joining us at the VFL on Saturday! No “toppers” required at Vic Park but we’ll be tuned in for the big ‘uns and hoping to snare some beer money.


  1. Maybe the jockeys’ challenge is a good way top follow the races. I’ve never tried it and don’t even know how to “get on”!…is it via TAB Sportsbet?

  2. Does Shane Templeton get a commission on the Jockey’s Challenge pool? He goes on about it incessantly but no-one else ever seems to give a damn!

  3. I can now confirm that the expert analyst has left for home from a local bandroom and will apply his knowledge to the form in the morning. I reckon he gets a fair bit of mail and can’t give it all up, so maybe read between the lines on challenge suggestions?

  4. Fair point Crio. For what its worth my fancies today are:
    Sydney R2 SO ANYWAY – back to a suitable class
    Sydney R3 HAIRY – flies home fresh
    Sydney R5 GOLD WATER – bit short for me to back but looks too good for these
    Sydney R7 SHOOT OUT – Randwick’s his track!

  5. Budge,
    LB likes Sainthood (SR5).
    You’ve no picks late in the day…will you rely on gut (beer) and status at the time?

  6. And Elvis suggests Toorak Toff for no stated reason…he “woke up mwith it”!

  7. mark freeman says

    I’ve just got the one today Crio – Mic Mac, so glad you’re keen on him too. If he gets rolled I’ll have snip ew Dariana in the last at Randwick.

    Cheers, good punting

  8. Mic Mac drifted…3rd fav on Betfair and great value.

  9. Ya can’t eat value

  10. I’ll also be trying Dariana in the last at Randwick- Shoot Ou has given me some funds to punt with now!

  11. I tried to get out on Uncle Ivan

  12. Carringbush says

    For a lovely day, pretty good (but not great) fields, the 21,000 attendance figure was very poor. My sister was up from Melbourne and ‘felt sorry’ for the AJC, after putting on copious buses and bands to placate the hoards. On the plus side, there were no queues for food, grog and bookies/TAB. I know the history of sporting crowds in Sydney but you have to wonder what the AJC/STC have to do to pull a crowd. At this rate, the combined crowds from both the STC & AJC carnivals will not top a good VRC Derby Day. One criticism was the use of a heavy rock song when Shoot Out came back to scale. Surely something more befitting the occasion would have been better.

  13. What do you think is the answer or should they just settle for 30,ooo max? The Doncaster should be a great day also. What’s the admission cost, bar situation etc?

  14. Carringbush says

    Admission for each of the big days is $40 (in Melbourne it’s $50), So the price is competitive. But entry, food ($7 to $10 for freshly made sandwich or roast meat roll) and grog ($6 to $10 for beer/wine/champagne) prices are a bit steep. Unless you’re a betting man, the day can be pretty long waiting for each race. There seemed to be much more young people there so that promotion paid off. This was the first year it hasn’t been at Easter so prepared to wait until next year but the fact remains, it was a perfect day for racing. As host broadcaster, Channel 9 needs to lift it’s game and have stories on the horses, trainers, characters & tipsters each night leading up to the day. Race coverage is shocking at Carnival time and non-existent at other times. If it wasn’t for Channel 10’s Sports Tonight, it would be quite barren.

    I was talking to my sister (VRC member and regular racegoer) about the problem and she thought that one big day incorporating the Doncaster & the Derby might be the answer. With the STC carnival leading up to the AJC carnival, it’s too much to expect non-committed race people to fork out each week.

    There is no comparison between Derby Day in Sydney and Melbourne. Derby Day in Victoria is the pinnacle of the Spring Carnival – What is the pinnacle of the Autumn Carnival? It’s probably the Golden Slipper which while carrying huge prizemoney is still only a sprint race for 2 year olds. Randwick needs such a pinnacle.

    Looking forward to Doncaster Day. Weather permitting, I’m tipping a better crowd than Derby Day. I haven’t been for a few years but if you were going to only one race meeting at Randwick, Doncaster Day was always the day.

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