Crio’s racing: The jewels in the crown

The Derby and the Doncaster don’t need the “Championship” badging and attendant hype as reassurance of their status in Australian racing. Whilst the massive money hikes and aggressive advertising will lift the general profile, these have long been jewels in the national racing crown that have provided indelible memories for racing lovers. My favourite Derby recollection is of finding a TV in the TAB in the bowels of the Southern Stand where shoulder to shoulder punters roared while Octagonal somehow found the strength to blouse Saintly and Filante (1996 – honourable mention to 1992). In the Doncaster, More Joyous was simply wonderful in 2012 and, of course, Super Impose scored the impossible “double-double” in 1990/91.

It is nigh impossible to avoid referring to the 3yo Classic as anything other than the AJC Derby. Pitched at peak time – Autumn – it truly is the best of its type and has again attracted a fascinating cast. Rain threatens so wait until late to make your final calls but, however you look at this race, Rosehill Guineas victor Criterion deserves to be high in calculations, despite drawing a gluggy marble. Bracket him with some roughie wet trackers such as Gallatin (8) and maybe even the Pumper’s 100/1 mount (15).

The Doncaster Mile, like its Spring sibling, The Epsom, manages to maintain the intrigue of handicapping conundrums, overlaying quality sprinters on the stretch with stayers relying on the testing terrain and the usual honest pace to bring them in to it “at the rise” – it can be a raffle but has thrown up a wonderful mix of memorable winners over its storied history. Despite the QE2 lure of 2000m and $4.5m next week, this Classic has held up and the winners will treasure the title as much as the prizemoney. Dear Demi E/W @50/1

The main “supporting” race on the day, the T.J.Smith (1200m, WFA, G1) has grown in status in the last decade and has attracted a terrific field this Saturday – as it should, now boasting a $2.5m purse. My fav edition of this race was probably in 2009 when Takeover Target screamed “I’m not old!”, strutting to victory over Northern Meteor and Apache Cat. There are some “punters’ pals” in the 2014 field too, none more so than the toppy, brave Buffering, which doesn’t look all that badly treated at WFA. Quinella with Zoustar. There’s a capacity field and a million ways of working it out – arguably the race of the day.

The fourth G1 is the problematic Sires (1400m, 2yo), a rich and worthy goal that been swallowed by a generation of Slipper hysteria. As such it can sometimes seem to be an afterthought of its brash cousin, when juveniles may be “over the top” and, especially this year, flattened from soft tracks. But the honour roll has some fair pedigree – despite occasional small fields, there’ve been memorable moments such as Pierro’s towelling of All Too Hard in 2012. It does not look a vintage version this time around. As a betting proposition it is a shemozzle – G.A.Ryan has 4 of the main fancies! Avoid.

This is a landmark day for RacingNSW. Hopefully they get a big crowd and great racing.

I’ll be watching soggy Sydney from a likely Heavy Heath, where mudlarks will be all the go.

The heavy hitters will all be on parade at Randwick leaving plenty of opportunities for the next tier of horses and hoops.

The Quaddy legs are not too bad but fields will likely be slashed if this weather continues – constant drizzle for the entire day today (Wednesday) with no change predicted.

Some punters love bog tracks – they argue that it eliminates many who just “don’t go”. I like the philosophy but will hold my fire until able to gain a more accurate reading.

Until then, as always, any tips and comments are appreciated.

Good luck!


  1. Cowshedend says

    Great review Crio,that marble will do Criterion no favours at all if history has any say.
    For what it’s worth you have to go back 9 Derby’s to Eremein(3) for anything to come from inside gate 6, 7 of 10 have come through the Randwick Guineas , with Nom Du Jeu having NZ form, Carey sending Ethiopia through the Alistair Clark, and the Brilliant Starcraft coming through the Tulloch and Chipping Norton.
    That ripping Octagonal Derby you mentioned wow! How good a horse was Filante hey? often forgotten when talking about Saintly and Octagonal.
    Apart from that year as a standout, there has been a lot of very ordinary conveyances filling the minors in the 3yo classic.

  2. Agree with Cowshedend- another bottler of a review of racing Crio No news from the beach this week so we can all save up again. However its a ripper Adelaide program providing a big dilemma for me as both Duric and Yendall have plenty of rides so sorting them out may take some time.
    Cowshedend I still plan to be at Flemington ANZAC Day (not early as I am going to march) and will meet Captain Crio afterwards (he will have details)

  3. I’m heading up to Sydney to be part of the hype, Crio (with eight other reprobates).

    Love your Dear Demi tip. Throw in Royal Descent and Speediness, and we have the makings of a nice Trifecta.

    In the TJ Smith, wouldn’t be surprised if Gordon LB salutes again. Chuck in Rebel Dane and Tiger Tees as wet track hopes.

    And if Criterion doesn’t win the Derby, buggered if I know what will, Maybe one of the Tulloch placegetters.

  4. Lucky you MOC. Love to be there tomorrow. Hope to do some form and find some winners.
    Cowshedend, I backed Filante in its Cox Plated. Top shelf horse about 3 inches from legend.

  5. While acknowledging 1996 as a landmark crop of 3YOs and a classic AJC Derby finish, I’d put 1973 right up there with it.
    A magnificent finish with Kevin Langby just getting Imagele up over the top of Grand Cidium and Leica Lover. This gave Imagele the 3YO Triple Crown having previously won the Canterbury and Rosehill Guineas. An amazing horse often forgotten when lists of champions are compiled, he started ODDS ON favourite in the Golden Slipper having flogged Tontonan in the lead-up. Imagele fell in the Slipper breaking ribs with Tontonan going on to win that race and the Sires Produce before also breaking down before he could complete the clean sweep. Tontonan showed what a great horse he was by coming back to win the Oakleigh Plate first-up as a 3YO then going on to Sydney to win the Doncaster and All-Aged Stakes. Only raced 16 times for 12 wins all at the top level. And yet Imagele started 9/4 on to beat him in a Slipper before coming back from serious injury to win the 3YO Triple Crown!
    Grand Cidium won the Caulfield Guineas like a champion that year but died shortly after leaving the rest of the Spring clear for another great horse in Taj Rossi to dominate.
    Fair crop that one!

  6. Very persuasive – I remember that photo finish picture on the wall at home!
    Langby was a rock star jockey – and a bloody good one. I reckon he rode Gunsynd up in Tinsel Town?
    His grand-daughter is jockey Tiffany Jeffries

  7. Remiss of me not to mention the outstanding card at Morphettville tomorrow – these days it is hard to keep up with the adjustments to “traditional” fixturing.
    The meeting is quite an oddity. The first 4 races are on the “Parks” track, including the 2yo fillies Dequetteville Stakes, a staple of my youth when run down the slide at Victoria Park.
    In a throwback to another “lost track”, the last is the Port Adelaide Guineas, always a Cheltenham highlight.
    Preceding it is an old Morphettville classic, the R N Irwin Stakes, this year featuring Karacatis, Platelet, Conservatorium, Riziz, Office Bearer – a field befitting the fine heritage of this (now) Group 3 Sprint. If they fly, Molto Bene could be the 33/1 blowout 1st up.
    This is a real good day’s racing with good depth across the whole card – recommend Morphettville tmrw for a dose of blacktype while watching the pageant thru puddles up at Randwick.

  8. and by the way, Budge, Leica Lover won the 1973 Port Adelaide Guineas

  9. Grand Cidium was the one year younger full brother of a champion stayer trained by JB Cummings – Dayana – which won 4 Derbies and was 72/73 Horse of the Year. While trolling google to refresh my memory of GC’s relatives, I came across this equine poem:

    “The hooves of horses!
    Oh! witching and sweet
    >Is the music earth steals from the iron-shod feet;
    >No whisper of lover, no trilling of bird,
    >Can stir me as much as hooves of horses
    >Have stirred.”
    > ~Will H Ogilvie

    Will we have to refer to you as “The Bard” now Oges?

  10. Sorry Peter B – wrong spelling of Ogilvie for our family name. I’m no poet either – just another contributer to this site f

  11. G’day Oges, any tips for Adelaide ?


  12. The locals haven’t got anything of note entered Glen but interstate trainers dominate. It’s a tough card but will have small go on Out of Coober in R 3 and Molto Bene even though it has a bad draw. I’m saving for a big Easter Carnival at Oakbank with Jollys horses (even though will be in the Grampians)

  13. Ta Oges, i’ll check their form.

    I was impressed when the Rick Freye trained jumper, Platinum Snip won @ Sandown on Wednesday, paying a lazy $61-00. Not bad for an 8 year od maiden, having its fourth start. There was one problem fo rme, in that i was at work, not able to put any $$ on! Oh well, it often goes that way.

    Happy Punting,


  14. Funnily enough it was Molto Bene that looked the roughie to me also. Excellent racing at Morphettville and, as I’ve mentioned, very nostalgic with a fixture blending former races from major days at all of the old 3 tracks – bloody hell, i might even miss Bert Day’s calling!

  15. What about Alf Guard?

  16. No “U” in Alf Gard – it was always about him. Where’s John O’Neill?

  17. I see the Redelva Stakes on tomorrow in Adelaide. What a great horse he was!

  18. Budge,

    Fantastic recall of the exciting gallopers of 1973. Made my hair stand on end. That was about when I first became really passionate. Loved Grand Cidium. Ran 4th in a Caulfield Cup on an unpreferred bog track, then went to have minor surgery and died on the table. I remember being devastated at the news. He could have been anything.

    Caulfield. Three half specials. Race 5 Natuzzi, Race 7 Lady Melksham, and Race 8 Dylanson.

    Randwick. Just the one. Lady Cumquat in the last.

  19. Caulfield- was keen at the odds for the omen Nearest The Pin…missed the odds so now will wait to ensure a leader’s track.
    It is a cracking meeting in Adelaide tmrw

  20. Jock & Oges,
    Just looking at Adelaide. Can you win from behind on the Parks track??
    If so, like both of Morgan’s early ones. Also reckon Platelet a 6/4 shot with Molte Bene the danger.
    They’ve got to be happy over there. Got runners from Moody, Waterhouse, Weir, Morgan, Smerdon, Robbie Griffiths, Kav, Hayes, etc also S Arnold, V Duric, Stackhouse, B Rawiller, Yendall, Damian Lane, etc riding there.
    A ripper meeting!

  21. Elvis – hope you’re not involved in the cyclone on the far north coast of Qld?

  22. Best meeting at Morphettville for ages, the Irwin is as good as the Goodwood was last year.
    It’s a bit wierd that half the meeting is on the inner track but maybe it creates some opportunity. In the 3rd Maybe Discreet should be taking a forward position which is always favourable on the inside track. Looks like Champagne Ruby will lead and many of the more “fancied ones will get back, so double figure odds looks really good to me.
    I also like Casquets in the 5th as the run on horse as Red Magnet will keep Minaj and MOL honest up front.
    The Irwin is a great race. Conservatorium is better 2nd up, Platelet deserves to be short and I agree somewhat with Motto Bene as a roughie form reads OK – Red Tracer races and beating British General but for a roughie, I prefer Esprit de Bullet at WFA.
    Budge, FYI John O’Neill is on course announcer, maybe you missed that a few weeks ago but I suppose you were concentrating on Roger’s system..I think he’s in therapy now and doing OK.::)
    Good luck Sydney punters looks impossible to me. I was thinking of a pre-post on Peron as 3rd emerg in the TJ due to the state of the track but didn’t, still think it’s not hopeless if it gets a run, also thought Hawkspur was ticking along OK and given conditions and the Pumper a good chance in the Donny.

  23. Budge,

    Thanks for your concern, but no cyclone here. Just me wreaking havoc on the exotics.

  24. Situation normal then Elvis.

  25. Ripsnorter says

    Over here in the west we have the derby and sires spin da wheels looks the best price in the derby and will probably lob third the fence and look the winner in the turn although not sure he can beat ithsahym home also a match race between petrol power and tests mezzo and tipping the latter to get over the top in a race with genuine speed. Sires interesting race and no reason Hobart jones not the winner again here although wide gate a concern. Think Peggy jean,villa verde and royal descent the best in Sydney meanwhile Le bonsir looks a good price and well treated with the claim and verdant a pretty good horse who goes ok fresh at s big price the last
    Good luck trying to find a winner wherever you punt tomorrow.

  26. Budge – you need to be near the leaders on the Parks track according to the local trainers

  27. Skip of Skipton says

    Royal Descent shoud have won the Doncaster. It was flying. I believe it copped some animal pecking- order vibe off Sacred Falls. Same as Pop Rock with Delta Blues in the ’06 Melbourne Cup.

    Damn these bloody Championships!

  28. Wipeout

  29. cowshedend says

    Lankan Rupee.. you just shouldn’t be slapping a group 1 6 furlong field like that. Sensational acceleration at the 300.

  30. Lankan Rupee was the only WOW winner at Randwick. Fairly lack lustre day of The Championships though again blighted by the weather/track conditions.

Leave a Comment