Crio’s Racing: A Time-Honoured Weekend

This is truly a weekend to savour for racing enthusiasts near and afar.

My local meeting, the return to Moonee Valley on Saturday, will be impacted by the annual exodus to Swan Hill for its gala three day Carnival, beginning Friday. There’s good fun guaranteed off course, good prizemoney to lure the top stables and, invariably, a good horse emerging for black bookers to bank. Tony Vasil has used the 1300m 2yo race at this meeting to launch the careers of both Elvstroem and Haradasun! Unfortunately Tony is not training at the moment as he tackles some health problems, but there will undoubtedly be a good ‘un produced at some stage of the weekend. Friday features a $130k (plus bonuses) 2yo and the 100k Gold Topaz. Saturday is generally a more modest provincial affair (as the betting ring focuses on Metrops) and then Sunday concludes with the Cup – allowing revellers all of the public holiday Monday to trek home. Colleagues on course rate this as one of the “must do” Carnivals – perhaps some other year.

Whilst I’ll be swinging the bag at the Valley, most attention will be on Eagle Farm for its wonderful Stradbroke Day. There’s depth across the whole card – check out, for example, the Dane Ripper (BR5, 1400m, F+M) in which Catkins faces a raft of quality challengers. The Quaddy kicks off with the G1 J.J.Atkins (1600m, 2yo), which has the very Sydney stench of Waller/Nash (1) about evens and Gai/Tommy the 7/2 challengers! I’ll cheer for the local Gollan/Browne combo. The Derby (BR6) has attracted a big field of the good and the bad. Again, Waller and Nash look the have the measuring stick with Villanova but the gate is awkward. The Stradbroke (BR8) is nowadays regarded not just as a Brisbane gem, but an annual jewel in the national racing calendar. Temple Of Boom (1) will carry the emotional card in his swansong but hard nosed puters will trawl down the weights to Srikandi and Hucklebuck when etching in their tote multis. It is a great race and, as the old saying goes, you could “throw a blanket over them”. The Brisbane Cup, nowadays 2400m, finishes the day. Moriarty was convincing last week. Precedence and Zephyron are the logical box tri options.

Internationally, this is arguably the biggest weekend of the year. England hosts its seriously time-honoured English Derby, always a grand spectacle. The fav (not surprisingly one of a raft of Aidan O’Brien options) is Australia! Whilst it goes around at a skinny quote, many here in Melbourne will be shouting for young Oisin Murphy who spent last summer out here and has scored the ride on bolter Red Galileo.

But, wait, there’s more!

In the USA, California Chrome will be seeking to end a 36 year drought and seal the Triple Crown when he lines up as favourite for the Belmont Stakes. This is an occasion not to be missed…here’s the huff post’s “color” piece

Try to catch at least the highlights from this weekend’s global gallops. They are sure to be memorable.

Good luck!


  1. The fate of California Chrome even interests a non-punter like me. Likely first time on a sloppy track. He races like a tough, strong, on-pace mile and a quarter horse. He has made his own luck in the first 2 legs with brilliant rides making use of his tactical speed.
    I read a piece earlier in the week on a US website about all the 2 leg winners to go down at Belmont over the last 36 years. The best horse to lose was Spectacular Bid, but he lost to another champ in the unsound but talented Easy Goer.
    The one that reminded the writer of CC was the too-brilliant Smarty Jones. Opposing jocks ensured he had a hard trip that left him a sitting shot in the straight over the extra quarter mile, and he just paddled in the last half furlong to go down a neck.
    I am sure jocks have been watching the replays and ‘beating CC’ will be the joint mission of all but one. I hope CC wins as a victory for the small time owners, trainer and unfashionably bred.
    But punters beware. History is not on his side, and the race does not always go to the swift when they gang up on you.

  2. There have been some conversations in Australian racing (especially the Waller scenario in Sydney) about the paradox of one trainer having multiple runners contesting to win a race.
    No such debate in Britain where Aidan O’Brien saddles up the main contestants in pursuit of his 5th Derby.
    I can’t see how you can restrict trainers from having runners in whatever event they wish, as long as they are all running on their merits.
    It is, though, a massive disincentive for punters.

  3. Always prefer to be betting on the side of history so I’ll be looking for something to beat California Chrome. But if he wins I’ll revel in seeing that piece of history too!

    Think Australia is too short in Epsom Derby. Reckon its a combination of the Aidan O’Brien factor and his breeding (Galileo/Ouija Board) that halves his real quote.

    Like Knoydart in the Stradbroke. The 3YO from a wide gate is a false favourite.

  4. I was hoping Riziz would return to Swan Hill to run the Golden Topaz again, a race he won in 2013. A nomination but not an acceptance. The runner trained by Ciaron Maher, in the last at the Valley, which has an Icelandic name, that i can’;t recall, is on my radar. Need to look at what else is running this big weekend. Certainly i will check the Swan Hill Cup fields..

    We’re off to Corowa on Saturday, a five race non-TAB meeting. Let’s see what it holds.

    Happy Punting,


  5. here are some great Stradbroke winners…
    Divide And Rule
    Daybreak Lover
    Rough Habit
    Private Steer

  6. Skip of Skipton says

    I’d have reckoned Hungry Hungry Hippos and the Walkman came out later than that.

    Outside of a shit Smarty Jones type ride I can’t see why California Chrome doesn’t win. Mile and a half shouldn’t be a problem, his 4th dam is by Sir Ivor!

    I read that O’brien says Australia is the best horse he has ever trained. Not sure if he meant best derby horse ever trained, or best horse full stop. Either way be told.

  7. Australia, despite Budge’s knock!, is a drifting fav.
    Ryan Moore’s on O’Brien’s 2nd pick, Geoffrey Chaucer, which has shortened, as has Kingston Hill.
    Happy, however, to take the tip.

    Walkman/Hungry hippo ref was a US site.

  8. Its a mundane card at Morphettville Sat with a good track (the locals didnt fire last week as the track got sloppy – but it didnt suit the mudlarks )
    This week Im looking to Monday (Public Holiday here) at the Bridge to jag a winner with the local hopes running
    Maybe Jock will have more ideas than me?

  9. Oges,
    I have no idea……everyone should be nodding heads now.
    I do have an interest in Murray Bridge race 4 (Hostable, no confidence, beat nothing last time with no pressure in front but did win easily) and Jolly has what should be favourite, so I’m interested in that and any feedback re the fav would be good. I may attend but have a 50th on Sunday…and don’t expect to be at my top so it’s a wait and see.
    About to open a red and look at Sat fields so stay tuned., the Blue Baggers are on in the background but just gave up the lead and I’m expecting it to be downhill from here.

  10. nice touch today when Elvstroem sired the Topaz winner at Swan Hill

  11. Jock I will be at the Bridge – so I’m confident

  12. I tried to get on Betfair to lay Cal Chrome last night – it had suspended betting already.
    Tough task that Triple Crown and he just wasn’t up to it.

  13. Australia bolted in at Epsom – what must it now be worth?

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