Crio’s Racing: Derby or Darby Day?

Derby Day is a marketing triumph of the KPI Kings.

“For the racing purists”.

Gotta love that.

100,000 show up, mostly to get into a marquee and the social pages and certainly not to case the joint for a pleasant afternoon off-peak.

Be honest: how many attendees could tell you, on the preceding Wednesday, the Derby runners, let alone form? Yet the successful media barrage insists this is a day when the “knowledgeable” descend on Flemington.

Our experience in recent years has been otherwise – it is nowadays an occasion for the “entitled” generation to blend Dionysus and Narcissus – put on a bad suit/stupid headwear, ponce about, pay through the nose and elevate a sense of relevance by taking selfies and abusing others….it has become a tough day at the office!

The upside is that the races usually remain very good, although it is baffling that the 3yo “Blue Riband” retains it’s spot over this distance in the Spring.

Typically, the VRC makes it a marathon but, for the patient, there will inevitably be a performance (on the track) that’ll stick in the mind of those who still care.

The card is very impressive – by category, there’s 4xG1, 2xG2, 3xG3.

Some of the race names remain embedded in our memories – the Derby, of course, the L.K.S.Mackinnon Stakes, the Wakeful Stakes. Others, such as the Myer Classic and the Carbine Club, have become worthy pursuits. Most of the rest have had fame under different guises – the old Hotham (now Lexus) was hotly contested and highly regarded last century. The Coolmore confuses the hell out of me but is a terrific contest and, frustratingly, the “ Stakes” is one of the most keenly anticipated races of this quality card.

Profiting on the punt is pretty straightforward – if you back a winner you should not lose. There’s value galore. The reason for that, of course, is the breadth of chances in most races. Bookies should fancy themselves today!

I’ll admit to being a bit “off the boil” – Judgement OK. Staking not. This is not good form coming in to the finals. But even old cynics like myself can’t help but get excited when the fields are released and, with a couple of days to ponder the options, it is inevitable that I’ll convince myself of some great opportunities!

The sucker punch might arrive early. Azkadellia’s loss at Caulfield still gnarls at my heart (aka wallet!). J.Moreira, the magic man, replaces M.Payne in MR1 (No15). Big class jump to this SW+P G3 (Carbine Club, 1600m, 3yo) but he’s a bona fide star who owes me. Close the eyes and touch the toes!

Next up is the Wakeful (MR2, 2000m, 3yoF, SW+P, G2). The old default was to see what Bart was readying for the Oaks. Gee some lovely fillies have won this. Fontein Ruby (1) looks to have the right form. J.McDonald has chosen Gai’s, Muscovado (5) – a good lead.

The 1400 G3 MR3 is the day’s poorest. Sponsored by an alcoholic drink, that might be the cue to break the seal.

All eyes will be on Rich Enuff in the Coolmore (MR4, 1200m, 3yo, SW, G1). Back in distance from an heroic Guineas defeat, hopes are high that he can bounce back for this prize. What a popular win it would be for Ken Keys’ star. Rubick, despite the pole, is a real danger.

The old Dalgety, for so many of us the time-honoured last race of the Saturday card, is nowadays a dimished product (MR5, 2500m, Quality, G3). Reckon I’ll talk myself in to Lord Van Percy (3), 2nd up in Australia and probably more comfortable on the wide plains by the Maribyrnong.

It’s good to see the Mackinnon draw a strong field as it has been patchy in recent times. Although there’s no Cox Plate nor Caulfield Cup winner competing, the beaten brigade bring tales of misfortune and new hope to this much loved race (MR6, 2000m, WFA, G1). I’ll talk through my kick. Side Glance ($29 place) was my main bet last week. J.P.Spencer got stuck behind no hoper Almalad when needing to grind away at the school. He’d have gone very close. My saver, Happy Trails, missed the kick. They’ll likely fight it out on Saturday, though Criterion, Rising Romance, He’s Your Man and others could stake claims. Excellent start to the Quaddy!

The Derby (MR7, 2500m, 3yo, SW, G1) rarely interests me. The toppy seems to have the key. Anyone got a tip on breeding?

The Myer (MR8, 1600m, F+M, WFA, G1) comes up next. These Mares races are fantastic but bloody tough. Pattern of racing becomes critical by this stage of the day – as does the price you need to balance the ledger! I might even sneak a spec on sub Zonza at cricket score odds.

Huge spruik Deep Field then comes to town and jumps in at the deep end (MR9, 1200m, H’cp, G2). Bel Sprinter, Big Money, That’s a Good Idea and other top notchers won’t stop it starting in the red. A must watch.

Such an exciting day. Sure – there’s no winner of the Guineas, the Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate nor the latest sprinting boom (Chautauqua), but it is a meeting that demands the attention of all of us who love the gallops – and challenges those who love a flutter.

It won’t be easy but the rewards are great.

Let’s get stuck in.

Good luck!


  1. You asked for a tip on breeding. M.Payne by champion trainer Paddy Senior; full sister to champion jockey Patrick; astute trainer Andrew; and other handy performers.
    Suspended for 20 meetings after riding a 10/1 winner on Cox Plate Day.
    Has Budge become a steward?
    Alas a week late for him after she slaughtered another fave the previous Saturday. I have heard the M.Payne/fave lament from him before. Why does he keep buttering up?
    Your tip in the first looks sound with the senior jockey replacing the (non-claiming) apprentice.

  2. cowshedend says

    Great day, but bloody hard. If anyone saw Our Vespa at Caulfield, it was painfully stiff, nearly knocked over the fence but came again late, massive run, the two unlucky ones it and Azkadellia to fight out the Carbine Club.
    Like one at odds in the Myer, Diamond Drille, love Steve Arnold as a hoop, will give it every chance from the gate, bit of a contrast that pair the quiet Arnold and TJ’s spruiking offspring.
    And love the romance of Robert Thompson on Big Money in the last, he was asked to stick around for dinner in Melbourne after the race, but said he had commitments at Muswellbrook on the sunday and had to fly straight back… what a pro.
    Although it looks like the fave might be a bridge too far, Big Money only had a day to settle in when he ran a bottler down here, and has since settled in down at Mornington

  3. I’m not finding many at backable odds – Lord Van Percy in the Hotham and maybe Happy Trails in the Mackinnon are the only likely bets at present.
    Mind you, there are 2 nights in front of the cricket nursing a form guide which might reveal more options!
    Side Glance’s scratching is unfortunate. Not only was he a good chance, but guaranteed pace.

    Despite the investment dilemma, still looking fwd to lots of top shelf racing.
    Rich Enuff and Deep Field have chances to join the elite.
    As usual, I’m loathe to try Signoff at the “skinnies” again.

  4. Peter B, I no longer butter up on M Payne on a favourite (again!).
    The 10/1 winner she rode was after (literally) knocking Chad down and she was very lucky that he survived the fall OK. That’s how she rides, sits on the fence and then goes looking for miracle splits. There’s a lot of reasons why she gets so many good rides and clearly not all relate to her actual ability in the saddle.

    I will (reluctantly) give you all one at decent odds on Saturday. Moriarty in the Mackinnon with J Cassidy on board. Drawn well, pumper puts him to sleep (as opposed to Caulfield Cup – watch the replay) and he will be strong at the end. Hasn’t had to ensure the torrid Cox Plate and quick backup like a lot of the fancies.

    Otherwise, Rich Enuff should win. Rubick drawn one and only average at his only crack at 1200m. At least we know Rich Enuff handles the straight. Unlike Deep Field- might be a champion but won’t be taking the (very) short odds that he handles Flemington 1200m which has caused the downfall of many.

    More thoughts to come ……

  5. Crio,

    Nice wrap up, I’m sure it will be an exciting day with lots of Atmosphere, particularly about 3.50. Really keen in the derby and not at all disappointed with Atmosphere’s run at the Valley. I thought it was a bit dour and not really going on the tight track when the sprint went on at the 500 and should be spot on this week.
    Need to build the bank early and will stay away from Azkadellia in the first as I think it will be unders so will start with Manhattan Avenue and throw in Ronns Moss in the trifectas for some value I notice that Wandjina is up for it’s 5th run in 6 weeks so if it can win it will be a huge effort.
    I like Generalife in the 3rd, its flying and Hucklebuck will need to go back so maybe a risk but was really good first up. Best real roughie for the day is Ghibellines off a sit. The Budge could be on the money in the Mackinnon, Moriarty was my saver bet at Caulfield and given no hope and will do it easily in the run.
    Can’t come at Deep Field first time down the straight at odds on. Eclair Big Bang was a good thing beaten last time but drawn 1 isn’t great, noticed Driefontien was pretty good first up but not sure if she is up to this with 56Kg so may just lay the fav.

    Elvis, you were keen on Atmosphere a month or so ago…..are you still on board?

  6. No news from the beach this week and as I have been going pretty roughly of late (belted would be a better word ) I will approach the meeting and indeed the Cup meet with some trepidation
    The Adelaide horses will go well and Driefontein with Duric will give me a chance
    Once again Crio you have given u plenty of food for though with your excellent summary – Budge thanks for your tip

  7. Jock,

    Yeah I am. There is an air about Atmosphere I really like. This is his race. Just wins. The fav is by Redouts Choice, who for all his wares, hasn’t thrown a VRC Derby winner and won’t start tomorrow. Need it to lose anyway, as that notorious Ass Clown Alan Jones is a part owner.

    My only other “Get On” is Neena Rock in the Myer. Really respect John Sargent, and she gets the money in a ripper race.

    Great meeting. Impossible not to be pretty, pretty, pretty excited.

  8. You must be a desperate or on drugs to bet in the Derby given the undisclosed (read: ordinary) formlines – thus this is the right forum!
    Given that the trip is the query, surely good odds a dour breed is the only excuse. Just noted that the Herald-Sun has consulted Doddy as that expert.
    He has cited Magicool.
    Awful draw a big minus. Form OK.

  9. Crio,

    From a breeding perspective, whilst I haven’t looked at all of them, Light Up Manhattan’s female line is about as dour as you get in 2014. His mother is by Zabeel, who in turn is out of a Noble Bijou mare, out of a Kurdistan (see Baghdad Note) mare, who in turn is a half sister to the dam of Taras Bulba. This is classic NZ blood from the 60’s and 70’s.

    Whilst I am extremely keen on Atmosphere, I find Light Up Manhattan’s breeding pretty compelling for a 2500m 3yo race.

    Breaking news. Just got a good tip from a bloke up here thick with the Wier stable that whatever beats May’s Dream wins the Myer.

  10. Thanks Elvis.
    Deanwhatsisname tipped May’s Dream on 3UZ this morning. Reckons the race is run to suit.

  11. Mays Dream,
    look at the film of Girl In Flight’s last 2 runs. If she gets a run her form is equally as good as May’s Dream but will be 5 times the odds. last run they finished together and Girl In Flight was laid on all the way down the straight, time before was 3 deep to the 650 then 4 and 5 deep.
    Good roughie if running

  12. btw: looking for a bank… red hot leaders track at MV

  13. Will be leaving Azkamichellepaynedellia alone in the first. Would have been better odds if it won last start! Will be going with CSE on Our Vespa. Should get a cushy run from the one marble and be hard to beat.

    Keen to find one to beat the fav in the last. Anyone got any compelling suggestions?.

    Derby. Not keen on Gao’s. Don’t think it runs the journey. Either Atmosphere or Preferment wins – another maiden either way!

    Still like May’s Dream in the Myer. Even keener now that Jock has tried to jinx her…..

  14. Skip of Skipton says

    Rubick is way over the odds I reckon. Waterhouse has a well credentialed import first up in race 3. Pornichet. No reason why the Caravan can’t keep rolling on. Cuban Fighter for trifectas and what not in the Derby.

  15. Yeah Skip,
    Rubick was terrific in a hot field at the Heath. TThe queries seem to be the 1 marble and 1200m.
    Pornichet is a big Q…the 1400m seems short; hence the odds. well credentialled.

    Good luck with your multis.
    Are you attending any meetings in “Holy Week”?

  16. Jockster,

    Girl In Flight. (A) Robbie Griffiths. George Michael has had sex with women more times than he has trained a Group 1 winner, and (B) Gate 17?

    I appreciate your reasoning relative to May’s Dream, and I have stated openly that you are a great judge, but mate, give your money to a charity endorsed by Jessica Simpson before you have a dip at her.

  17. Skip of Skipton says

    I think Rubick likes the rail so gate 1 could be an asset. Forget Pornichet’s last run in America, it was the bunny.

    Oaks Day. Nursery car park on a mates VRC guest pass. Will be keeping it real in my $15 op-shop suit and servo sunnies.

  18. the bunny story makes sense.

    Enjoy Cup Day.
    I’ll be on the Rails at Wayne elliot’s stand if you get inside.
    Otherwise track down Harmsy’s crew who are usually out there and would love to get your mail.
    any chance of the almanac racing lunch Monday?

  19. Whoops – Oaks Day…rest of tale stays true.

  20. Skip of Skipton says

    Will look you up when I’m down there. Work precludes me from Monday’s lunch. Heading to Big Smoke Wednesday. Have mail for a three year old filly for either Cup Day or Oaks Day, not sure which yet. Will keep you informed.

  21. Crio,

    BOM says 95% chance of rain tomorrow. Should that prediction alter any initial thoughts?

  22. Not really.
    Still think I will lose.
    Probably get wet now also!

  23. Crio,

    Great comeback.

  24. Is Fawkner unlikely Tuesday?

    O’Brien’s fancied in last at MV

  25. Dismiss all previous…
    Rock Vantage terrible
    Fawkner still has a pulse

    Good luck to all tmrw
    I’m chasing!

  26. Crio and crew,

    Loving the discussion.

    I am going to have a nibble at Smokin Joey which won the last on Derby Day last year (ker-ching for the quaddie) and has had sporadic form since. Third up. Will be flying at the end.

    Then I’ll consider my next options.

    Will be taking a quaddie around May’s Dream. One quaddie into the fave in the last, but one where I go wide in the last. Massive potential value.

    Good punting all. Let us know what you’re backing and how you are faring as I am at the desk flat out editing and your day may be my vicarious pleasure.

  27. Good day to miss the carpark John.
    Just heading down and very wet. Track will start a Good3 then we’ll see. Rain started pretty late off hot night but it looks bleak for this arvo.
    Pubs around Melbourne will be full of blokes in whites getting on the punt!

  28. Magnificent image Crio. So true. Cricket and bowls and disco dancers.

  29. 5 mins ago Betfair was laying 99% MR1!

  30. David Downer says

    On the train heading out. Excitement building.

    Can’t give you much as form study has been sparse, but think Gouldian, though missing a run, has good form around the Sydney crew, so might give you a sight at well over the odds in the Derby.

    I will of course get sucked into the usuals. Catkins, Bonaria, H.Trails, Foreteller.

    Would like to see R.Enuff burn them off.

    Good puntin’ folks

  31. Bowls is on over here in what can only be described as gale force winds Crio and Harmsy so have to get down to the pub early as we have a road trip to Strath today

  32. Strong head wind down the straight, leaders cannon fodder, but also hard to come from too far back.
    good luck Oges

  33. Big headwind at Flemington. Leaders disadvantaged. Rails also may be a bit off?
    Need cover and come late down the middle looks the best strategy.

  34. Sorry CSE. Had that comment sitting there for ages and forgot to send. I see we agree!

  35. cowshedend says

    Yep Budge, the sprint will be interesting, cover is a must

  36. cowshedend says

    Let the Oliver lovefest begin…… suddenly my mouth has the distinct taste of vomit!
    By the way I was on Bondeiger.
    On the upside Moreira is riding like Pike.

  37. As we mentioned CSE, leading is poison so I have laid Deep Field at $1.62. That should make it a certainty!

  38. Yes William Pike is a great jock. He looks like being my go-to man to get out on Perth!

  39. cowshedend says

    Tough day Budge, nice call on the lay, wouldn’t want to be taking the skinnies with that head wind down the straight.
    im booting the Thompson fairytale home on big money, but im colder than charity!

  40. Skip of Skipton says

    Good to see the Zabeel win the Derby. Probably the last we will see. What a stallion.
    Retire Preferment to stud now.

    Any stewards enquiry re: Hampton Court? Upside down or what!

  41. Skip of Skipton says

    Forgot to mention Happy Trails. A most deserving win for an honest, consistent and high calibre beast. The Aussie bred stuck it right up the Waller’s and whoever else’s imports who I’m starting to struggle to keep up with.

  42. D. Downer

    Garlic king prawns for you tonight old son.

    Congrats to the Geotech crew from yesterday. Excellent barbie. Nice discussion of the nags. And unlucky not to have the quaddie for $2. Happy with the $1 result anyway.

  43. Did you see the great Wally Beaver on p10 of today’s Age. He should have a standing invite to the lunch…really good fella and a real form watcher.

    Any Mornington tips welcomed – off there for Peninsula Cup Day tomorrow.

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