Crio’s pre-Derby Day deliberations


by Chris Riordan

It’s Tuesday night.

Incredibly, this time next week the Melbourne Cup will have been decided and I’ll have my feet up on the couch during what is half time of the Flemington Carnival.

There are so many great stories waiting to unfold and I’m looking forward to being a part of it all.

Tomorrow morning we head off to Bendigo for their big Cup Day and the main race has some bearing on the week ahead. I have to chuckle that it is European and provincial Vic (Geelong and Bendigo) performances that vie with the “time-honoured” MacKinnon/Hotham outputs  this Saturday in pundits’ evaluations for the two-miler!

We’ll be late home tomorrow so I’m sneaking a glance at the noms and speculating on what to look forward to this Saturday at Derby Day.

It is right to refer to it as a day’s feast of racing – on which the Derby is held – as the “Blue Ribbon Classic” is rarely the highlight of an always magnificent card. Past winners have met with varying fate, but perhaps few more reflective of racing’s highs and lows than last year’s surprise wet track winner Lion Tamer. He defied the Derby hoodoo and proved his class with an emphatic Underwood Stakes win last month but then, when well fancied in last week’s Cox Plate, suffered an injury and was “put down”!

Derby fields in October are an odd mix of well performed sprinter-milers and those whose “finishing on” run has led to a dream of staying glory. Bubbles are burst and fortunes made, but too rarely are the best three year old Colts represented. We’ve got a really interesting favourite this year in Manawanui, which might even be 5/4. His form is fantastic. He won the great lead-in, the Vase, with a leg in the air. He looks the winner. He is the last big hope of the celebrated triumvirate of crack Sydney colts who’d taken aim at our spoils. Smart Missile was initially the most vaunted. Caulfield ended him. Helmet won a brave Guineas and then punctured last week. So, arguably ranked 3 at the start of the journey, Manawanui has the chance to trump them both. He’s likely to face some interesting opponents that might flourish on the big track, including Niagara, Sangster, Isopach and a host of others whose chances will improve if the dodgy weather persists.

With acceptances not yet declared, it is too early to make selections, but it is a good chance to take an early look at the likely fields, fancies and then add inklings as the week unfolds.

Other than Manawanui, there are some other definite favourites on Saturday to give bookies and punters a point of reference. You make the call…good thing or value elsewhere?

One that will go in very short is Sepoy, likely victor of the Gr1 Coolmore (1200m). He looks a certainty.

The other “lock” of the meeting should be in the Wakeful (Gr2, 2000m, fillies) where Atlantic Joy looks untouchable. She’s a gem.

Gai no doubt rates her mighty mare, More Joyous, likewise in the Myer Classic (Gr1, 1600m) which has become one of the really fantastic races of the Carnival. In a gun field, she stands out as likely to reaffirm her billing as a modern middle distance champ. This will be a fierce betting race as, if you think the fav a risk, there are a raft of top notch mares. Assuming Lights of Heaven goes to the WFA, I’m guessing Sacred Choice, Mosheen and Yosei will be amongst those in contention. Often the race of the week.

More open betting will be found in the rest of the card, assuming the fields “hold up”.

Galah was magnificent at Caulfield and will have great support in the Carbine Club Stakes (1600m). I’m guessing that Pane In The Glass will head here rather than the fillies race and I rate her highly. Cross Of Gold and Meethaq are others I’ll ponder in my Thursday deliberations.

It looks like we might get a really good MacKinnon this year, defying the WFA trend. Southern Speed, Sincero and Secret Admirer will ensure that you’ll need a visor if Richie Callendar’s previewing this mob! Rekindled Interest will be hoping to atone for last week’s misfortune and the mail is that Lights Of Heaven is ready to win. Great noms. Hope the depth of quality accepts.

The age old “inside/outside” conundrum will face punters when presumably a full field heads down the Straight 6 for the Gr2 Salinger, with no Black Cav to scare them away. Temple Of Boom is a gun on this course, Sister Madly and Midsummer Music are flying and there will be spirited betting on a host of others, particularly if the track cuts up.

Other ripper races to fill out the 9 race card are a 1400m Gr3 – what was it before?- with Toorak Toff, Love Conquers All and co dealing with the nuances of the 7 Furlong gate, and, of course, the old Hotham (Lexus, Gr3, 2500m) offering a Cup lifeline and/or a trimming gallop for Tuesday’s hopefuls.

Fields should be finalized by Wednesday evening. The weather looks patchy. We can begin earnest dissection from Thursday onwards. It’s part of the fun…can’t imagine rolling up to this meeting without a headache from the possible permutations and butterflies at the anticipation of what lies ahead.

I’ll be swinging the bag on the rails and Budge is on patrol for us (Lillis Kilmartin) in The Nursery.

Any considerations and speculations are welcomed. Good luck!






  1. Peter Flynn says


    The registered name for the last on the card is the Chatham Stakes.

  2. some Derby memories:
    Spot the odd one out…S.King (1991), J.Tse (1994), S. Scriven (1995)

    I am clearly still damaged from my 2 bets in last week’s Plate…L.Nolen and D. Dunn.
    …Bendigo bound right now.

  3. My Derby Day memory involves two big “collects” in 2000.
    The first was at 8.30am in the Mercy Hospital when my third child LIam arrived. After completing all my post birth duties, there seemed nothing for it but to head out to HQ for the last five races. In my still-existing two person punting syndicate, it was my turn to put on the quaddie (ending with the penultimate race in those days, and of course, no flexi option). There was no time to spare. Barking instructions to the cab driver, one hand on the phone at my ear, the other flicking madly through The Sportsman, I managed to cobble together a $60 quad (4 x 3 x 2 x 5) which I pretty much considered to be a donation to the TAB.
    But in they rolled: Lolita Star in the Wakeful, Hit the Roof in the Derby, Oliver Twist in the McKinnon and (an omen?) Easy Rocking in the Salinger. It remains our best Quaddie collect. We snaffled some French champers and headed back to the Mercy to share the spoils with the day’s best performed dam.
    I was later accused of referring to the quaddie before Liam in an excited phone call to a friend that night. My defence? “Mate, I’ve already got two kids. This is our first big Quad!”

  4. MOC, I think they should do an “Australian Story” on you. It would be a MOC-umentary of course.

  5. Good report Crio and even better follow up by the contributers.
    Has anyone got any e/w tips for the Cup this far out?

  6. Crio, will you be taking Mana on on Saturday? That Vase was a funny one. Stop-start. And when Schofield saw the leader quicken he went out after him immediately. Not sure what to make of it. Did it look like a stayer’s run to you?

  7. MOC

    That was my first Derby Day. I flew down from Qld to do publicity for Memoirs of a Mug Punter which had just come out. I also backed (14/1) Lolita Star (one of the great rides, from S Baster) and Oliver Twist won beautifully. Would have been even better had Umrum beaten Easy Rocking. Was Falvelon in that?

    It was an important day for me, because it was the day I met Wally F Beaver. I only met him becasue the bookies were so busy – shoulder to shoulder and wads of money coming over my $5 each way shoulder – that I decided to take doubles instead. That was after the Wakeful, so didn’t get a double.

    Ripper day.

  8. JTH

    I think Falvelon WAS in the Salinger. We also had Umrum in our quad (paying $24K for 50c). As you’ll recall, he came down the Grandstand rail and was beaten a pimple by Easy Rocking out in the middle of the track. If Umrum had won, my newborn son may not have even got a mention in that excited phone call I mentioned earlier (although he would now go by the unusual name Umrum O’Connor).

    Ripper day indeed.

  9. Skip of Skipton says

    Reasons I won’t be backing Manawanui.

    * Having looked at his page from his yearling sale, all his family going back to the 4th dam are sprinters
    with only one relative mentioned that won over 2000m. His dam Lady Remlap contested and won up to 1600m once.

    * Sire Oratorio looks to be your typical Danehill. If mated to staying blood, you’ll get a stayer. If not, you won’t; as is the case here it seems.

    * 6/4 is way too short.

  10. We briefly discussed him coming back from Bendigo tonight. Some concerns re staying and there are “pushes” for others. Drawn a treat and formlines are terrific. Will hit the Winning Post tomorrow.

  11. MOC

    Easy Rocking carried Jim Cassidy from memory. Umrum had won the Toorak (a 9/2 certainty) with J. Cassidy aboard. It didn’t register (clearly). The only reason I remember the Spring fairly well is that it was my first crack at being a tipster (on 4BC in Brisbane), after Memoirs had come out. They asked me after the interview about the book to tip a couple for Saturday – I suggested Skalato in the Guineas (tinny), Umrum in the Toorak, and I reckon Shogun Lodge (ran second from memory). So they asked me back the following week. I could go on (specials in the weeks to follow were Diatribe, Sunline, and Oliver Twist). The segemnt eventually had a sponsor – the Lord Stanley Hotel just near the Gabba. I remember doing my tips from the opera (champers in hand) one Friday evening. “Where are you, Mug?” asked Ben Dobson. “I’m at the opera,” I said, “But I’d much rather be at the Lord Stanley Hotel” We had a lot of fun with it. Eventually UniTAB (now TattsBet) supported the segment and we made over $5000 for MND research. I was tipping with Rick Mitchell (Olympic silver medalist) who follows racing pretty closely. And MOC, on Rick Mitchell, his grandfather was a groundsman at Brunswick St Oval for a while many many years ago.

  12. the answer to post 2, “spot the odd one”, is S. King who won a magnificent Derby in 1991 aboard Star of the Realm. From memory he whacked Olly on Naturalism in a pocket and took off. Olly’s horse took too long to regain balance…the bird had flown. Opportunistic, tactical, rough…take your pick of the adjectives. King seized the moment.
    Not so the other two who were roundly criticised for losing Derby rides.
    Shane Scriven somehow managed to get the mighty Octagonal beaten by (the admittedly pretty good) Nothin’ Leica Dane to give Gai’s career a huge push.
    Punters were furious.
    Just the year before (1994) they’d watch Bob Thomson fall to owners pressure (Sunny Yam?) and put Jackie Tse on his brilliant colt, Danewin. “Couldn’t ride a rocking horse” seemed the general consensus. Even embittered Melbourne punters reckoned he should have stuck with Shane Dye! The realisation of this particular “slaughter” seemed to dawn on Tse post race when , i think, he became the only sportsman to out weep R.J. Hawke as they gathered in the mounting yard!

  13. Crio,

    Re the Chatham Stakes, seems like this race took up the mantle for the old 1400m Linlithgow Stakes (even though that is the actual registered name of the Salinger Stakes -1200m). Of course, the Salinger Stakes registered name should really be the Craven “A” Stakes but we can’t have that these days!

    On Danewin, I’m pretty sure you are right with Sunny Yam and RJ Hawke was also a part-owner. One of the great tragedies was to see it get beaten (Octagonal was probably even worse).

    Re Manawanui, I particularly liked the way it dropped its head and relazed as they went out of the straight the first time at MV last week. A good trait for a stayer. Having said that, you don’t necessarily need to be a stayer to win the VRC Derby as class will often do the job. Certainly on breeding you wouldn’t fancy him to run 2500m. He’s the only stakes-winner for 5 generations and his 6th dam was the flyer Wenona Girl.

  14. Skip of Skipton says

    The worst ride of all time was R.S. Dye in the Geelong Oaks Trial of ’93.

    My Nephew Bazza and I had been to the cup and Bazza got a running double (a G. Ryan trained mare into Ultimate Aim in the cup) 20 times for a collect of $2100 odd.

    With a fistful of cash leftover, Bazza and I went to the Oaks meeting the next day and he plonked $500 on an absolute certainty in the Oaks Trial that was paying around 9/10, evens etc. (a Gai Waterhouse filly with strong Sydney form).

    To cut a long story short, Dye was arrogant and over confident and ended up getting rolled on the line by a very ordinary filly called Balm in Gilead.

    Quite a few punters (possibly remembering the Caulfield Cup of the previous year) went beserk abusing Dye on his return to scale. Cops were required and threw a few blokes out. It made the front page of the next days Addy. It was hilarious. Even Bazza was laughing.

  15. So, for Saturday, I guess you start by looking at the “shorties” and deciding if any of them are risks?

    Galah is odds on in the first. Small field. 1st go here. Super impressive, but $1.60?
    Atlantic Jewel is 1/4 and wins the Wakeful.
    Sepoy is 2/7 and should bolt in the Coolmore…any objections? That is seriously short…

    Manawanui is 6/4 in the Derby. I have a knock on every runner here. He looks terrific but has been up for ages. Couldn’t take the shorts. Unsure I can find another.
    More Joyous is 6/4 in the Mares Mile. She is an out and out champion. Bookies will risk her. Plenty of chances.

    Other races much wider.

  16. Skip of Skipton says

    Green Moon would have to be a massive chance.

    Sepoy certainty. Atlantic Jewel 95% certainty (Bart’s horse some remote hope if you are obsessed with finding something to beat her). More Joyous no certainty but 6/4 reasonable all the same.

    McKinnon is anyone’s guess. Will avoid horses backing up from the Plate (‘cept Efficient, he needed the run), maybe Foreteller again or Southern Speed, why not?

    Is Redding still the last maiden to salute in the Derby? Zabeelionaire!

  17. I was just looking at the shorties Skip…I don’t reckon it is a good day to punt.
    Efficient is a compulsory investment – even if just a saver or quaddy – any time at HQ. I’m leaning towards Lights of Heaven in the WFA as the value.
    Can’t really take the odds for More Joyous yet – very keen to watch the weather and track.
    re the Derby, as I said, a knock on all for either form, distance, gate, hoop, odds. Zabeelionaire looks the best maiden but that’s not the point is it? Everyone at Geelong wants to tip Smerdon’s Colt. Once you risk the fav, there are a lot of semi-maybes!!..maybe just lay Mana if that’s your hunch.

  18. David Downer says

    Manawanui’s profile into the Derby is similar to Mahogany. They both kicked off their campaigns by winning the Up and Coming at Randwick, then took the Guineas-Vase route.

    It was generally said that Mahogany “couldn’t stay”, but he still pinched a couple of Derbies on class, the VRC Derby by 5 lengths. Is Manawanui in the same bracket? ie: perhaps can’t stay in the traditional sense, but can get away with it against this lot at this age?

    Similarly Whobegotyou was the class horse via the Guineas-Vase route, but got rolled at odds-on in the Derby.

    Hmmm …I won’t be taking the shorts and will be looking for the value elsewhere.

  19. Mahogany was a freak…beaten a lip 1st up in a Cox Plate. Winner down the straight. Does my head in.
    Be patient DD – 37 races this week to choose from…this from a bloke who fell in to the tip at Ballarat!

  20. Skip of Skipton says

    Certainly the 3yr old crop of 93/94 that Mahogany trounced in the VRC and AJC derbies were about as weak as I can remember. Waikikamukau placed in both if I remember and he was very average as an older horse. The rest were worse.

    Doubtful that Manawanui, if he is suspect at staying, will have such luck.

  21. Bookies looking to take on More Joyous.
    I reckon we might try to lay Sepoy as well…very short and the Flemington factor.

  22. Good work Skip. You were very strong against Manawanui and proven correct. Just didn’t run out the 2500m.

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