Crio’s Racing: Caulfield’s Cup runneth over

It’s spurious to declare this Saturday the weaker of Caulfield’s Spring presentations – sure, last week’s card was outstanding, but the truth is the Caulfield Cup retains an iconic place in our sports culture as a race which reaches beyond our diminishing fan base.

The 2014 version seems to be a ripper as you’d expect with a $3m purse to complement the “time honoured” status.

Sensibly the Heath’s “big ticket”, rather than ever trying to overhaul the VRC’s “first Tuesday”, has flourished by being a feeder as well as, in many ways, a more interesting challenge – the mile and a half Handicap can lure Toorak winners on the back-up/step-up as well as WFA visitors enroute to the Valley and, of course, globe-trotters and others looking for a date with Flemington immortality.

The MRC have aggressively promoted their Carnival and the weather gods appear to have smiled upon them. Commercially savvy, the smarties down Dandy Road have outpointed those of us who previously decried the feature for being the final race on a marathon card – never really likely to upset a TV deal to cuddle the 6pm News, the MRC has simply left the Cup at 5.40pm and added a 10th at 6.15 to jam the whingers!

As usual, it is a good card with a plethora of G3s accurately reflecting its quality.

One newly rebadged race is the Caulfield Classic (MR4, 3yo, 2000m, SW). This is the old Norman Robinson, won last year by ill-fated Polanski on his way to the Derby. The MRC is hoping to make this a “destination race” of its own by putting both genders’ Guineas on the first Saturday and then offering automatic noms for the next week and a $250,000 bonus if a colt or filly can “do the double”. There’s merit in the plan, which might ultimately impact on the Vase at MV – but this year no trainer has picked up the cudgel and we are left with a fairly pedestrian “Derby trial”. The winner really looks in the top 4.

The Tristarc Stakes (MR6, 1400m, Mares, SWP, G2) is unquestionably one of the day’s features as the Sydney girls come to town and compete for great riches from now right through to the prestigious Myer Classic. This series just keeps getting better. Catkins and Sweet Idea are logical favs, with Politeness perhaps better suited at HQ’s spacious mile in a few weeks. Watch on 8. This will be a real form race.

The old Coongy (MR7, 2000m, Hcp, G3) has lost its raison d’etre but will kick off Saturday’s Quaddy. Brambles (1) bravely toiled under the weight of my wallet last start and looks the measuring stick here (1st Emerg for Caulf. Cup). Signoff (9) is this start off being muncher material – very much a crossroads run here and he’s never any odds. To be honest, most of these are not the types you’d want to back each time they go round; it is a matter of catching the right one on the right day at the right odds. Vilanova (7) could be the one to partner the toppy in exotics – the C.Waller polish and Froggy’s local nous makes appeal at about 12/1.

A big reason for needing to go skinny early is that this Quaddy just gets tougher.

The Caulfield Sprint (MR8, 1100m, Hcp, G2) looks a beauty. A focus must go on former flying filly Miracles Of Life, now with the Snowdens and to be ridden by Hugh Bowman. She might get the gun run here and goes in for sure if there’s any confidence from the camp. Shamal Wind was enormous last week but will need the track to play for swoopers – as it might by then and with some speed clapped on. Ramornie winner Big Money is the other I’d be including.

This year’s Cup (MR9, 2400m, Hcp, G1) is fascinating, but a bloody nightmare for analysts as the form comes from all over the place. Whatever wins will trigger a flurry of “told ya so” and “shoulda had that in” reflexes. Lucia Valentina deserves her place atop the markets after the magnificent Flemington triumph. Elsewhere…the best I can say is that there’s value aplenty. I’m including Gris Caro at big odds – owes me nothing, last start winner here, has “Magic” Moreira on board and I know a part owner. Another I would certainly not leave out is Hawkspur. He’s genuine G1, well weighted and has Olly from a good marble. 25/1 is overs.

Gluttons and desperates will saddle up for the last (MR10, 1100m, F+M, SWP, Listed). If you are taking a Quaddy the best option would be to put in the 3 one out – it will be pretty short and, if you haven’t yet been knocked out, you can jump on Betfair and layoff once approximate divs are declared. If you are flyblown and want pizza money, maybe E/W the 12 at 20/1.

There’ll be big crowds at Caulfield tomorrow – if you are amongst them I’ll be on the Wayne Elliott stand in the Skyspan area straight behind the stand – come up and say hello. It’s been a busy week and I’m looking forward to some “racing relief” – ultimately unimportant whimsy about being right or lazily, temporarily being relatively rich. A pall will rightly fall over the Industry in light of the awful tragedies of recent days but this showpiece day will hopefully highlight the good things that keep so many of us passionate about the sport.

Any tips, reflections, questions or nostalgia welcomed here.

Good luck!


  1. Gris Caro and Dandino are early withdrawals from the Cup.

  2. Skip of Skipton says

    Rising Romance/J McDonald at 16/1 will do me. Hard to enthuse really. Just a watch for the Melbourne Cup.

    Good idea turning the Norman Robinson into a bigger race open to fillies, but the very large purse and bonus seem like a WOFTAM. If you had the Guineas winner and thought it was capable and ready for a 2000m race, then you’d go for the Cox Plate, no?

  3. yeah, makes sense as usual Skip.

  4. Skip of Skipton says

    Bought your 2015 membership yet, crio? Great to see lots of miserable mangy mutts, who wont be part of the golden future, cleansed from the kennel sooner rather than later. Make way for the messiah!

  5. Skip, our doggies are like Murali..putting a positive spin on a suspect action.
    Crio, Sign Off is officially sacked.. had every chance last week even with the interference. I’m on th pommy horse Contributor to knock it off.
    Anatina about the best on a very hard day, and if i was going to chuck 1 in the cup now Bande is out, Junoob.

  6. We’ll be on track @ Avoca tomorrow. Curious if Nikita Berriman can go back to back. Last year she victoriously rode Get Out of Town, carrying only 55 kgs, however she faces a stiffer task tomorrow on the toppie Gottino, carrying a whopping 63 kilos. Good luck; she’ll need it.

    Interestingly her younger sister Jackie, is not there tomorrow. Saves any potential complications.


  7. Miracles of Life may give the sprint a shake tomorrow at Caulfield. I think it’s fair to assume that Snowden will improve her a bit and she is drawn for a great run, 7/1 or 8/1 looks a pretty safe EW bet.
    I also think that Girl in Flight is a roughie with a chance in the 6th. There has never been much between her and May’s Dream and she’ll be double her odds at least…hoping they work Sweet Idea along.
    I’m on the top weight in the Cup. 1.2 lengths behind Gentildonna, giving it 2 KG in the Japan Cup is just about the best form anywhere in the world for a 2400 race at Caulfield.
    750K prizemoney for the Norman Robinson/Caulfield classic is a joke as a lead up to the Derby unless you have a runner in it. I’ll stick with Justaway, hoping the last run was just too bad to be true

  8. “Snowden will improve her a bit..”
    Understatements not usually your style Jock.
    Do you think H.Bowman replacing L.Stojakovic is a fair trade?

  9. Skip of Skipton says

    I see Phelan Ready is back in town. Must include now he’s in winning form.

  10. similar strike rate to mine!

  11. The tragic accident at the Bridge has affected all the racing folk at the beach – it was a pretty subdued group there this morning and as one said “lucky you were not there”
    Glen- good luck at Avoca (on my bucket list sometime) and Crio great report as usual
    Im looking to see how the Japanese horses go with small e/w
    Good luck with Cup selections in what I consider a lottery race

  12. Skip of Skipton says

    Thermal Current has been gelded and might be ready to fire first up at good odds.

  13. Good point Oges, these two poor girls are amongst over 870 hoops who have died in a sport they love. How many more have suffered serious life time injuries? It’s a hard life the hoops give in this great sport.

    Happy punting.


  14. On the breeding front, I have just looked at the form.
    Of the 22 horses an amazing sixteen are imports ! Five are new zealanders and a solo Australian bred, Hawkspur.
    Not sure if Bob Dylan is a racing man but The times they are a changing has
    evolved into Things have changed.

  15. Azkadelia. Bachman, River Lad.
    Each way Lidari in the Cup.

    Elvis – Silver Bounty / No Peer. Happy 33rd anniversary

  16. Michelle Payne should get 6 months for incompetence.
    Anyone else rides Azkadellia and it wins by 4.
    Again I vow NEVER to back her on a favourite!

  17. Feeling your pain

  18. cowshedend says

    Moral beaten Budge

  19. Skip of Skipton says

    Spewing. Great ride by J Mac on Rising Romance though.

    Hats off to the Japs. They take racing and breeding seriously. Hawkspur was the only Aussie bred in the race. How pitful.

  20. Shadows of the post Skip.

    Is the Cup “no penalty” nowadays?

  21. Skip of Skipton says

    Should be a 1.5kg penalty. Not sure the Cup is the true handicap race it was.

    Admire Rakti only fires fresh and first up so look elsewhere for the cup I reckon.

    What happened to his savage companion? He looked to have done a ligament, and was pulled up near the finish.

  22. 0.5kgs penalty.

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