Crio’s Racing: Get on Sandown, Dunkeld and Yea this Saturday

Don’t put Racing on the shelf just because the Flemington marquees are coming down. Sure, if you launched on favourites during the “fallow festival” you’ll need to curb your spending, but there’s still a great Saturday here in Victoria where we have a cracking Metro meet at Sandown, an iconic Country card at Dunkeld as well as the picnics around the lovely Yea golf course.
The Sandown meeting has an exciting array of races but often suffers with the hangover effect. Ironically this seems to impact mostly on the “feature”, nowadays the Zipping Classic (MR6, 2400m, G2, WFA), which sometimes battles to justify its rating. Cruelly the reinclusion of a 2 mile Cup (MR2, Listed) has perhaps split the quality pool, already dented by failed Cups campaigns or those pressing towards Asian adventures. But, enough negativity – there’s a program to showcase those still looking for some black type and healthy prizemoney to be won.
The Merson Cooper Stakes (MR1, Listed, 1000m, 2yo) seems to have now found a home as the opening race on “Cup Day”. It is good to see such a famous race survive, though it is unlikely here to boast the status it earned in decades past….how’s this for a winners’ list? – add, of course, 1981 Rancher.
I’d love to learn more about the Merson Cooper’s position on the calendar. For many years it was a “Principal Race”, at times 1200m and, remarkably considering the pedigree, was not contested for 3 years during its heyday!
1979 King Zavata
1978 Star Shower
1977 Taj Mahal
1976 Blazing Saddles
1975 Vivarchi
1974 Caboul
1973 not held
1972 not held
1971 not held
1970 Dual Choice 6F
1969 Vain 6F
1968 Biscay 6F
1967 Quezette 6F
1966 Storm Queen 6F
Logically the best of the current crop have either fronted at Flemington and/or, more likely, are in the paddock waiting for Diamonds or Gold in Autumn – but that doesn’t stop us prospecting for a gem amongst this batch, almost all of which are untried. You can be sure the winning trainer will tell Bruce Clarke that it is “being put away”. The only one to have been to the races, bottomweight Purrific, leads early markets from Snowden’s first elect, Sidestep, and Mick Price’s Resistant.
Hopes for bookies of getting off to a solid lead seem to hinge strongly on Kerrin McEvoy not doing likewise. Look at his mounts and approx. odds:
1 – Sidestep (7) 5/2 2ND f.
2 – Meidung (3) 13/4f.
3 – Ironstein (1) 11/4 each of 3
4 – Star of Giselle (4) 5/2f.
5 – Raspberries (2) 3/1 eq.f.
6 – Garud (5) 8/1
7 – Tatra (1) 7/2 fav.
8 – Reparations (13) 20/1
9 – Shannara (3) 33/1
Long odds on for the “Jockeys’ Challenge”! – although he can go over on shorties and in photos. That being said, McEvoy’s very reliable at putting his rides in spots from which they can salute if good enough.
With time, as usual, my Thursday enemy, here’s a brief appraisal of the challenges to be confronted…
2yo raffle. Watch betting. Snowden holds key.
R2 – TWILIGHT GLOW STAKES (Listed, 1400m, 3yo fillies)
Plenty of chances with the bottom 4 the value…Tony McEvoy is a gun trainer and might hijack Kerrin here.
R3 – CUP (Listed, 3200m)
3 fancies in the market here but don’t overlook The Impaler on Gai’s Reuben Percival.
R4 – ECLIPSE STAKES (G3, 1800m, Open)
Money for Shewan ($21 in) – respect Smerdon esp when the money arrives.
R5 – SANDOWN STAKES (G3, 1500m, Open)
Raspberries looks the one to beat.
Mourayan has earned the 6/4. Interesting acceptor is Derby placegetter Rawnaq, which looks unders.
R7 – SANDOWN GUINEAS (G2, 1600m, 3yo)
Ripper Guineas. Best ride wins.
Unpretentious was the best winning plonk of Cup Week and won like Bernborough. Don’t discard Thankgodyou’rehere.
R9 – SUMMONED STAKES (Listed, 1500m, Mares 4yo+up)
Big watch on the toppy which has a shocking gate but B.Shinn comes to ride for “master of the Mares”, Guy Walter. Also, strong mail for New Beginning, another from a wide gate.
It looks like being a tumultuous few weeks ahead for the Industry and those who complained that Racing no longer has any “colourful characters” might need to reconsider!…if the mail is right, a macabre form of “Little Brother” may unfold as the unavoidable purge gathers pace. It’s never boring.
I’ll be at Moonee Valley for the pretty lacklustre night card and then out to Sandown for Saturday. Oges is celebrity guest at the Adaminaby meeting up in the Snowy Mountains and hopefully he can send us a report from the “Home of The Big Trout” – and a racecourse at which both “The Sundowners” (1959) and the Mexico race scenes for “Phar Lap” (1984) were filmed…..Robert Mitchum, Peter Ustinov, Tom Burlinson and now the Almanac’s very own Oges! Closer to sea level, the Donald races on Sunday come highly recommended but, as yet, without my having been there – some blokes I know do the Dunkeld/Donald running double. Hardy indeed.
Good luck!


  1. Great stuff Crio,love this week, a bit of normality returning. Made the trip out to all three of these meetings a number of times, and there used to be a Sat. Prov meeting at Werribee as well(Dunkeld was a non tabber).
    One year drove down to dunkeld and stayed the Friday night at Hamilton (as i had done for the previous couple of years),not a drop of rain overnight in Hamilton,found out from the newsagent at 6.00am the next morning that Dunkeld got 1 1/2 inches overnight 35kms away,meeting abandoned !!! at 10.00am took off and drove the 3 hrs back to the Werribee meeting (Sandown was a West Gate Bridge too far).
    Dunkeld is without doubt the most spectacular racecourse in the country, the view back down the straight is stunning.
    I notice Clinton McDonald is floating Pacino down for the Dunkeld Cup with the ageless Les Beer on board,a real punting stable who love to have a dip at their horses.
    The old Sandown Cup day also brings back some great memories,although it is a great viewing track,Sandown is the Brian Kekovich of Melbourne racing,too easily forgotten.
    One trip out there was when Our Pompeii won the Cup in 94 and there was a $1M jackpot on the straight 6 (a betting format no one ever took seriously until the jackpot).Seem to recall there being one live unit on one horse in the last ,and the live horse went down in a developed print.Turned out the bloke who had that 1 live unit was a short order cook from up near Shepp named Sonny Yap(by memory) and the generous Tote gave him a trip to the friggen Gold Coast!
    After the last i saw one of the biggest smackons of all time on the lawn with about sixty people involved,looked like Braybrook Footy clubs pleasant sunday morning sip!

  2. I’ve not been to Sandown regularly but it nevertheless contains a stack of stories…and very few successful punting ones, beginning with my first visit there – Sandown Cup 1982. I’d been roped in to a Spring punting pool that was going very well but elected to do overtime and push on to Sandown. It utilised the unscientific but, to that point, effective tactic of backing Tony “The King” Bourke’s tips with the old “load up more” imprimatur until one won. From memory he speculated against the good thing, Cossack Prince, in the Guineas and we were bust!

  3. An Almanackers email exchange, led by the great DD, has acknowledged the original naming for the main race at Sandown as The Williamstown Cup. In fact, my Millers Guide cites that the race has been held at Caulfield, Flemington and Moonee Valley as well as at its present home.
    For those – like me – fascinated by the History of some of the old suburban racetracks, thanks to CowShedEnd for this notice regarding a talk on “A Short History of the Williamstown Racing Club” to be delivered next Thursday… see attached or contact me for details.

    (Fef, I can get this but can’t post the magnificent invite image – can you?)

  4. Sorry mate, tried a few different options, cut, paste, saving in other formats and still can’t insert (Ugly Dave Gray would be saying boom boom at this point!)

  5. On tour and have managed to find an internet cafe. Adaminaby tomorrow- check out the web site of the race club – this should be a real hoot

  6. Skip of Skipton says

    Oges, I looked at the site and had forgotten what a moon-scape the countryside was up around there. Very “High Plains Drifter”.

  7. Thinking about going to Yea on Saturday, hope to do so. The Freyers are bringing 3 horses down from Corowa to run. It’s not that long ago they’d bring 3 horses to run on the metropolitan tracks, but it seems the stable is going through a hard time, with a focus on picnis, andf non-TAB’s. Also on Sunday Mick Hartney is going from Berrriagn to Donald, to run Regular Aussie, in the cup race . Decent drive, hope he gets a good result.


  8. Enjoy Yea
    …and speaking of well travelled, Mick Whittle is bringing one to Sandown!
    Another that has been around is 12yo Lord Lucan (out of Felony) which runs in the last at Donald on Sunday, via Manangatang and Wycheproof, for its owner/trainer Jane Matheson.

  9. I still remember nearest coming from last all the time with amazing runs and some others Att char, heavenly time, Luthers luck and arwon winning the sandown cup as an eight year old in 1980

  10. The Luther’s Luck Bar adorns the Members’ area…I love that. Flemington had it’s Bernborough Bar and Carbine exhibit and Caulfield the Manikato Bar….Luther’s Luck and the doomed Stainvita fill Sandown’s history books!
    We got gelded at the Valley tonight so must quickly regroup to counter-attack on what is not always a bookies’ benefit tackling the nobs of Noble Park.

  11. We took the grand daughter to Yea, where a pleasant day all round was had. It would be remiss not to mention we got the Quaddy @ Sandown. Now can Regular Aussie win the Donald cup Sunday? Let’s hope the drive from Berrigan to Donald brings about a cup win!


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