Almanac Racing – Sal’s Preview: Final Day

Greetings All,


Another sporting event apart from the finale of the carnival is taking place.  Little did we know apart from about the final 48 hours of flurry that the First Test has begun.  On a pitch that was delivered as expected we get a ripping day of Test cricket without obvious favour to the home side despite the lopsided looking score.  Australia are in the position they are in because of the strangely poor execution from Dale Steyn.  It is understandable if young bowlers get a bit excited about the pace and bounce of the WACA, but he is a seasoned pro and should well know that bowling a good length is where the extra zip gets wickets.  I expect a much tougher day for the Aussie batters.  There is no need to muck around with Test cricket – the format has stood the test of time.  Just stop wickets being prepared purely for the home side’s advantage, that is what is destroying the game not the time it consumes.


What an outstanding race The Cup was this year with once again an international raider falling just short without a prior run in Australia.  On Monday at the Almanac lunch, VRC handicapper Greg Carpenter discussed three horses he might like to get another crack at.  They finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd.  Heartbreak City was the run of the race being able to get that close from barrier 23 a superb ride from the magic man and a superb gesture as he congratulated Kerrin McEvoy as he crossed the line on the winner Almandin.  Kerrin has had a super spring second in the Caulfield Cup and winning the Geelong, Bendigo and Melbourne Cup plus another three so far at Flemington.


Plenty of negative commentary about another victory to The Weird One – not every Melbourne Cup can be a Prince of Penzance story and a couple of his owners there aren’t short of a quid either.  Lloyd Williams is an odd man – how you can be so invested in the sport but not go to the track, watch all sport with no sound, openly flout the owner-trainer rules.  Some things he does are just plain weird to me.  However he has helped resurrect the Melbourne Cup from the malaise it was in in the early 90s and he invests so much into the sport that provides employment to many and helps keep the industry afloat.  There is no doubting his passion for the sport and specifically the great race.  I don’t begrudge him the victory I suspect he spends more than he wins, I do hope his next phase is to start breeding stayers locally and turn the Australian breeding industry upside down.


It was the last Cup for the members grandstand and this Saturday its final meeting.  I have had many comments from readers who were unaware of what the new stand will bring or more specifically remove – over 4000 unreserved seats, there has virtually unanimous condemnation.  The great fear being that with only 1500 seats available in future they will quickly become reserved.  It is clear though from the reaction the “Old Codgers” were not part of the VRC focus group in this process.  Where will we go?  Where will we go?….


Another tripod on Cup Day in the Quaddie but anyone crazy enough to follow my selections would have found the winner as fourth selection and the Trifecta and First Four in the top 6.  We pony up again for a terrific meeting to close the carnival – the track will have had a fair pounding through the week so we are likely to see some advantage to the outside barriers.  The outside has definitely been the place to go in the straight races – what was M Walker doing on Madeenity and M Zahra on Hellbent?  The Oaks was a punters nightmare but an outstanding effort from the winner, thankfully I did not publish any selections!


Race 1 – Maribyrnong Plate (G3, 1000m, 2YO SW)

Somebody get me the dartboard!  A group race with so many first starters make little sense to me, with its status I suspect a number of the unraced will be pretty handy types.  The Sheikhs are usually keen to get their babies up and firing, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum has Fill Fill (7) while Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has Resin (15) wearing the Godolphin Blue.  Both drawn to the outside which will help.  Of the raced brigade Azazel (1) and Wait for No One (2) have wins on the board and look of fair quality but may not present the best value.  I favour Wait for No One (2) purely on the barrier draw.  Whilst I have selections I advise you watch the market and probably then just watch the race.

Selections – 15-7-2-1


Race 3 – Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G3, 2600m, Qty Hcp)

Lizzie is often seen as the consolation cup for those that could not squeeze into the 24 on Tuesday or for second stringers of the internationals.  Occasionally a launch pad for next year’s cup as it was for Makybe Diva in 2002.  Is the Bendigo Cup form better than the Lexus form?  Tom Melbourne (3) was outstanding on Saturday beating all but Oceanographer but for that has an extra 3kg to lump, finishing well behind him was De Little Engine (5) who only rises 1½ and I reckon he can get past him.  Francis of Assisi (1) has a similar rise compared to the other Danny O’Brien charge Second Bullet (6) who chased him home in the Bendigo Cup.  De Little Engine (5) gets the nod for me in what looks like a very competitive race.  Also watching Angel’s Touch (9) from the DK Weir yard who is progressing quickly.

Selections – 5-3-6-1


Race 6 – The Matriarch Stakes (G2, 2000m, Mares 4YO+ SWP)

This is an outstanding renewal of the mums in waiting classic.  We are getting on in the carnival and thinking outside barriers won’t be an issues and Happy Hannah (16) will be motoring home.  But she has some serious competition Real Love (1) returns to Mares grade, has to lump a big weight but 5th in a Caulfield Cup is good form for this!  Lady Le Fay (10) got stuck on the inside at Moonee Valley where winning was impossible to make ground and Denmagic (8) finished strongly in the Myer.  Chances don’t end there – a terrific race!

Selections – 16-1-10-8


Race 7 – The McKinnon Stakes (G1, 2000m, WFA)


We would have loved to have seen Winx run, but not sure they would be many others in the race.  Instead we have another ripping field with much to ponder – internationals, Flemington specialists, 3yo and the swan song for Happy Trails (1).  I do think this is the ideal race for The United States (3) who hit the line hard in the Cantala on Saturday, some question about three weeks in a row but The Weird One does have some clue about placing his stock!  The freshen up from the Caulfield Cup should have Scottish (7) primed for a huge run.  Hauraki (2) would have rated higher but I have some concern with the inside draw and Vadamos (5) must be a huge chance after the effort in the Cox Plate.  But it does not end there Awesome Rock’s (6) best is just as his name suggests, Palentino (9) is a track specialist just not sure he is on song, Vanbrugh (10) a last start winner and Waller/Melham is a deadly combination.  The colts Good Standing (12) and Seaburge (13) have a huge weight advantage and Tivaci (11) keeps on running into the money at HQ.

Selections – 3-7-5-11


Race 8 – Darley Classic (G1, 1200m, WFA)

The penultimate race of the carnival is missing Chatauqua, Buffering and the 3yo colts but we still have one hell of a race!  Very wary of the NZ star Turn Me Loose (2) – he was let loose last year and won three 1600m races on the trot including the big ones at Moonee Valley and Flemington, then the Futurity in the Autumn.  3 from 4 second up and never worse than second over the trip!  If he is out in front he will be a great target for The Quarterback (3) who has an explosive finish providing he can get enough room, Flemington has plenty of space for him!  Flemington is also a happy place for Malaguerra (7) who beat all but a gun colt in the Schilacci and Fell Swoop (5) was just behind him.  Then if Lankan Rupee  is back to his best he could blow them all away, while Spieth (10) is another with a big finish.

Selections – 3-5-2-7




After a bit of a reprieve on Oaks Day with a couple of shorties we are back to fields with multiple chances.  We will try and stay alive as long as we can!


Leg 1 – 1, 8, 10, 15, 16

Leg 2 – 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 12

Leg 3 – 1, 2, 3, 5, 7

Leg 4 – 5, 8


300 Combinations for $30 gives 10% of the dividend.


The Chokers


The other major event taking place is on the Murray where the Chokers Cup and Mick Harry Jacket are up for grabs.  With participants coming from all points from the west, south and north it will surely be a willing contest of golf.  Who will take the coveted green T-Shirt?  We can be sure there will be greatness on the course and the Big Man will be full of bravado and derring-do, all while Multi-Choice is determining which of his tee shots to use at some stage either will look the winner.  However it has been a year of the underdog – Leicester City, the Sharks, the Bulldogs, maybe the Cubs.  Predicting this might just be the year of The Big 0 – that is a zero representing the number of wins.  All signs are good for The Big 0 or will he produce one of those chokes that will live forever.


The Wrap


This will my final preview of footy, cricket, soccer, racing for the year (unless I get itchy for a Christmas issue).  I hope you have enjoyed reading them half as much as I have in writing them – although some of the AFL enforced deadlines can make it tough.  Hoping 2017 will allow me to be a more bombastic Blues reviewer, but somehow have my doubts.


Wishing you all a great festive season and safe passage through to 2017,


Go The Quarterback, Go The Big 0 and go to the cricket!


Cheers, Sal

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