Crio’s racing: Royalty or roustabout, racing has something to pique your interest this weekend.

Wednesday evening and the chill is invading. Quite rightly. Winter is officially starting, the footy season is halfway gone and the Melbourne metro meeting is a jumps feature double on a Heavy track at Sandown.
Off peak? Don’t believe it.
Locally and globally our great “game” forges on and, be you royalty or roustabout, racing has something to pique your interest this weekend.
Undeniably it will be a fairly low key day for me on the bag at “Sportingbet Park”. I won’t give the placard-wavers any oxygen. There’ll be a hardy crowd of jumps lovers and the usual bunch of dedicated punters there to keep me occupied. It’s a good place to work – though a fair hike – as the betting ring is inside and yet you can see the horses entering the mounting yard and on the track, thus getting to enjoy the sense of being at the races.

The fields, of course, are not great. Pateman gets the pick of mounts over the obstacles and “Froggy” is chasing a first metro premiership on the flat, so maybe it’s just as easy to follow the hoops. An early Quaddy inkling is F/4,5,12/1,3,5,8/8,11.
Pub and pro punters will be far more focused on Eagle Farm where the G1 Oaks is supported by five G2s – the Sires’, Eagle Farm Cup, Dane Ripper, Guineas (only 1400m?!) + QTC Cup. As decorated as these races are it is only a forerunner to next weekend, but nevertheless the good fields make it well worth grabbing the Winning Post for a perusal. Though fields are barely declared, there’s already been a significant push for Dowager Queen (2) in the Oaks, with some pundits shortening her 25/1 early quote in to 10/1. This filly has plenty of talent and is representing the new “combine” of Lee Freedman and Graeme Rogerson. For what it’s worth, I still lean towards G.A.Ryan’s Angel of Mercy (4). Another discussion point from first markets is the posting of Lights Of Heaven at evens for the Eagle Farm Cup (R4). Let’s hope she can return to the devastating form of her early glories.
Given my ‘druthers, there are a couple of meetings I’d love to be at this weekend….and these alternatives highlight the broad reach of racing, where a punter’s mantra is “6/4 is 6/4 wherever”, and a winning owner’s beam is as broad be he a billionaire or a brickie.
The Adelaide River Cup Day has grown in to a significant event in the Top End. Whilst it retains the “bush” charm, the 70th Anniversary running at the crossing on the Stuart Highway is worth $20,000, with some good stakes in support.
In marked contrast, racing folk are more likely to want to make a pilgrimage at some stage to Epsom Downs, where the Oaks (Friday) and the 233rd running of the Derby (Saturday) attract the hoi polloi (Queen’s Jubilee junkies) as well as a mob of “eventers” for this annual highlight of Britain’s sporting calendar. I have to admit that the experience was underwhelming for me decades ago as a backpacker, but I’m led to believe things have improved significantly in the intervening years. This season’s edition sees Camelot (for Aiden O’Brien) at odds on with Bonfire the one most spruiked to take him on. No doubt our racing networks will cover the race live.
Locally and Internationally we’ll have to move on very quickly. The wonderful Straddy Day is June 9 whilst, in the States that night, one of the most eagerly anticipated Belmont Stakes in memory will be run. Stay tuned. Previews next week.
Meanwhile, any “mail” welcomed. And, good luck!


  1. I think they manage to race every half hour at Epsom…….VRC??!!

  2. Where do you guys see the future of “jumps racing” ?

  3. Probably doomed mate, but not simply due to the lunatic fringe. It doesn’t generate enough punting turnover. The Industry revels in young horses, high stakes and big betting. Not much aesthetic there I’m afraid. And not good for the jumping fraternity. Did you see the Casterton race last week?

  4. “The management ” and I were at the Strath races last Sunday and saw the race on TV. However the response from a lot of the viewers was not favourable after the fall and watching tiring horses.
    Like you I think their future is limited
    Incidentally you would remember David Whitney and Graham Line- they are both living down at the mouth of the Murray and still taking an interest in the horses. They have some good stories of old times.

  5. Omitted to mention that the SR is a modest Warwick Farm card.

    Also, big meeting in Japan Sunday??

  6. Skip of Skipton says

    Only eight runners in the Derby, three of which are provided by O’brien inc. the odds-on fave. Poor. There is a French colt who ‘has done everything right’ etc, and whose trainer ‘doesn’t send them across the channel unless’ blah blah blah. I might have $5 on it at 33/1.

  7. Thanks Skip. Sounds like a good get-out!

    My best mail has come for the bottom one in the Steeple. Been declared a 7/4 pop. Still $4 on the ‘Fair

  8. David Downer says

    And here’s the late, late “horse has bolted” international report…

    Epsom Derby Saturday attracted some mainstream attention here with HM kick-starting the Jubilee junket at the track. And that’s where commercial coverage stopped. The impressive winner of the actual race, A.O’Brien’s Camelot, is now touted to become the first UK Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970 (comprising Guineas in May over 1600, Derby in June over 2400, and St Leger over 3000 in September). Fro7
    m what I gather, the UK triple crown concept is on the nose – the distance jumps obviously make it hard (the first two are hard enough before even contemplating 3000m), it’s a five month timeframe, and modern breeding is geared more towards speed than “stamina” – the latter seemingly a bit of a dirty word. So ironically, a win in the St Leger might reduce future stud value, as the horse wouldn’t then appear as “brilliant”. Unfortunately for me, not sure if there’s a race for Camelot at Royal Ascot?

    In the Oaks the day prior, O’Brien cleaned up again with Was. That is not a typo. The field was made up of genuine ridiculously named beasts. Was, Vow, Maybe, and a Twirl. The pace of the event was just as absurd. Despite being run on a dry track, the race-time was 7 seconds slower than Workforce’s Derby record circa 2010 (who So You Think knocked off in the Coral Eclipse last year). To put “7 seconds slower” in perspective, that equates to, approximately …44 LENGTHS!

    I will note another horse to come out of the meeting, the lightly raced Gatewood – one to follow in a handicap at Royal Ascot, and the coming UK season.

    The roughhouse head-bobbing French Derby at Chantilly was run on Sunday and the winner Saonois was at one stage $617 on Betfair. Yowza.

    Our Melbourne Cup “nearly” dead-heaters had runs over the weekend too. Dunaden ran third to English stayer Aiken at Chantilly – and the winner might be Cup bound this year. Red Cadaeux ran a nice second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation at Epsom. He’s bound for another tilt at the Cup again too, perhaps the Caulfield Cup this year also.

    And last but not least, Black Caviar is off to the old dart tomorrow. She is wearing a Cathy Freeman type body-suit. They make a few stops along the way in the cargo plane. I read that she will lose about 50kgs on the trip! Godspeed, Nelly…


  9. David Downer says


    Epic typo…

  10. Thanks DD.
    Noticed that Aiden O’Brien’s son rode the Derby winner – and also claimed it didn’t handle the tricky layout.
    I’m a little worried by the hysteria over BC’s trip…glad for racing’s coverage, but unsure that it has any balance at all. A warm up for the swim tossers come Olympic Games?
    When are you off?
    I’ll be in the wind-tunnel betting ring at Fabulous Flemington for a 9 race mid-weeker tomorrow!

  11. David Downer says

    I’m off on Saturday week, Crio.

    Will have a couple of days to acclimatise before Day 1 Tuesday with Frankel …and Ortensia.

    If the fields are released early enough, I can actually do most of my form from home! …and I’ll have 24 hours to kill on the flight, of course.

  12. Great for you mate.
    America’s Triple Crown the focus this week

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