Crio’s Racing: Zipping down the Highway

“On the quick back-up” is a catch cry of modern trainers and punters looking to find a winner.

It may not, however, be in vogue this week as the marquees are dismantled at HQ and the merry-go-round moves to the Stalinist architectural delights of Sandown for one of my favourite meetings of the year.

A totally different crowd and vibe fills the course as the frocks and flogs are battle wearied and, probably, skint. These racegoers are more likely to have been to Mornington and Cranbourne Cups and they turn up in good numbers to a track which offers plenty of space and fantastic viewing.

Bookies, not uncharacteristically, sook. They’ve maybe got their spoils and tend to resent the brave rearguard that hardened punters tend to launch on this day…crumbs from the banquet table, surely! Some simply take their gout and go on holidays.

Many of the Carnival horses, too, may miss the trek down the Monash after a Flemington “road” last week left them jarred – picture the poor horses exiting with the drunken damsels, all carrying their shoes, limping home on sore legs!

Let’s not pretend that this Saturday can match the last three but the programme offers a classic range of events and draws competitive fields – I reckon it is a vintage Group3 occasion! In fact the card is “blacktyped” –

  • LISTED (2yo SW 1000m)
  • G3 Sandown Stakes (Quality, 1500m)
  • LISTED (3yo Fillies, SWP, 1400m)
  • LISTED Sandown Cup (Quality, 3200m)
  • G2 Zipping Classic (WFA, 2400m)
  • G3 Eclipse Stakes (Quality, 1800m)
  • G2 Sandown Guineas (3yo, SW, 1600m)
  • G3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (WFA, 1300m)
  • G3 Summoned Stakes (Mares, SWP, 1500m)

I’ve written previously about my scars from this meeting – perhaps it’s been my propensity to often back “bookies’ hopes” which brings me undone here. But it is not “bad form” which will keep me away – on that criteria I’d be warned off all courses – rather, the invitation to get to the bucket-listed Dunkeld meeting which annually clashes with Sandown. Alongside the highly recommended Yea picnics, they make up an appetising triumvirate of racing options for Victorian fans this week.

Naturally, though, we’ll be trying to stab a winner at the Metro meet and hope that the long drive down the Glenelg Highway gives us plenty of time for research.

An obvious kick-off will be the WFA Classic, a race that’s had a few changes and still battles to draw a large field. This year’s edition is fascinating. We know that “leviathan” Lloyd loves to contest the race now named for his old warrior and he’ll send around the Moons – Sea and Green. They’ll come up against form stables in Weiry (Prince of Penzance) and Hayes (Spillway) as well as the now traditional import, in this case Au Revoir. Interestingly, James McDonald has extended his stay down here and rides Epingle for Mick Kent. Good little race, remarkably left out of the Quaddy.

The Guineas will test my resolve. The likely fav, Rekindled Power, is off a maiden Bendigo win whereas his main combatant, Lord Aspen, made it 4 from 4, and in Listed City company – but I’m sworn off those who sweltered on the Stakes Day equivalent of Abu Dhabi’s pitch. I reckon I’ll look for some value here…any ideas?

A bet I’m nearly compelled to have is Sweet As Bro at 25/1 in R8 – though it is getting to be a while between runs and WFA not ideal, I was keen last week pre-scratching so need to show some steadfastness.

The “get out” will be an open affair…how about the Summoned Stakes being sponsored by a funeral agency?…talk about God’s Call? Appropriately for this day, these are fair dinkum G3 combatants. Look at Ava’s Delight or (Almanac’s own) Nadeem Lass as 20/1 saviours.

I’m time poor – which matches my wallet – so need to wait for later in the week to do some serious study. November has been a frustrating run of “nearlys” for me, though I’d sensed the trend and not tried too hard. The racing has been magnificent…as has been the banter and contributions from Almanackers near and far.

The media saturation from betting companies is now replaced by “BetRegret” ads – hopefully we’re all smarter than that. Take on the challenge, not necessarily the reward – but winning beats the hell out of losing so, as I tell the kids in class, let’s “stay on task” and boost the Christmas coffers.

Good luck!


  1. Well Captain Crio- will you survive Dunkeld one of the most scenic of all courses in Oz? I take it you are fielding and not a spectator or in some fancy marquee?
    A couple of questions for you Jock- were you impressed by the SA horses last Sat? They won well – and what do you think of the chances of Waltzing to Win on Sat with Yendall aboard?
    (I saw it win a race at Strath recently and it was more like a training gallop (the mum of the trainer was standing near me and said they have high hopes for it)

  2. Working at Dunkeld, Oges. Looking forward to it.
    Not many spoils for bush trainers, however, as weiry and co hover….but I reckon Mitchell Freedman’s Orientaped might be hard to beat in the Dunkeld Cup (R6, 1800m, $25,000)

  3. Oges,
    Can’t say I was too impressed with the SA winners because I wasn’t on board any of them but good luck to them for getting some pretty handy spoils.

    I actually prefer Distillation to Waltzing to Win as it generally just beats it home and it was a little unlucky not to finish closer last start as it was slightly held up getting a run. I also think that Distillation has probably been set for both last start and Saturday, not sure W to W has had a “planned” prep.

    Crio makes a very good point about the hard tracks last week and I be a bit careful with those backing up.

    Be prepared for some comment about gear changes ( maybe a focus on plates and glue on shoes) in “Dodge” reappears in the comments…It will give Budge an alternative to Elvis for a virtual slap.

  4. Thanks Jock cant disagree with anything about W to Win (heard a whisper it may contest the KI Cup in Feb) but will have a small e/w on both now

  5. Keen on R2 Pornichet & R8 Generalife. Hoping J Mac has a big day!

  6. Smart money on the Dunkeld Cup , Crio ? Spanish Vixen has ran well lately.

    Of course there’s Donald Cup on Sunday; nice track Donald.

    We’re off to Yea for their first meeting of the season. Looking forward to it.


  7. Skinny fields at Yea on Saturday, Glen.
    Only 2 in the first and 4 in R2 and R4.

  8. Worth reflecting on the great careers of a couple of John Wheeler’s greats in Veandercross and Rough Habit who both died in the last week.
    While they were both mighty horses they will forever be saddled as:
    Veandercross = Shane Dye
    Rought Habit = wet track freak

  9. Didn’t know about Veandercross. Dye needed a train ticket out there.
    Rough Habit was a legend in Qld and pretty bloody good here also.

  10. In my memory Dye was tripping over the Grandstand steps whilst Olly hugged the inside rail – not quite so on replay!

    Shane Dye’s stubborn smugness added fuel to punters’ ire.
    Veandercross went on to win the Mackinnon and was a star.

  11. Wait till you blokes get old
    You can hardly remember your last winner

  12. Skip of Skipton says

    Here’s Rough Habit getting beaten on a wet track. Veandercross was out of the box as a 4yr old. What shoulda coulda been! Keep your eye on him in this race. Wow.

    Cup punters didn’t miss Subzero’s strong finish either.

  13. Ripping review Crio, even tipping a few snowies. Heard this meeting referred to as the ‘Jan Brady’ of the spring, even though the fields are a heap better than the crap tossed up Cup and Oaks day.
    Sandown Cup looks interesting, Shoreham isn’t in too badly on the weights considering the 56.5 min, but with plenty of rain about happy to go with Massiyn, the Williams camp always seem to have a blinder at this meeting.
    Wish i was joining you at Dunkeld mate, love that meeting. Have one in the Tauto bar for me.

  14. True Crio, the first is literally a two horse race.

    Gundagai has its interesting two days of racing including the famous Snake Gully Cup. Very tight track there, with having an outside barrier generally a major disadvantage.

    I’m interested in the main race on Saturday, over nine furlongs. Emma Steel has her new runner Defenceman running. In his only start for her stables he won the Berrigan Cup. Let’s see how his second start is.

    Happy Punting,


  15. McArdle likes the thing in the first at Dunkeld (Lunar Watch), put in a shocker at it’s only previous start after winning a Cranbourne trial.
    Fair old drive from Mornington to Dunkeld with 1 horse in the float.

  16. THERE’S some solace for you, Crio, after yet another day of dreary, relentless nag racing.
    Albeit in an idyllic regional/rural setting.
    That’s because in Dunkeld you have the Royal Mail Hotel. Now, altho’ u mightn’t have the time — let alone the cabbage — to set aside for the RMH brilliant degustation nene, there’s still the front bar beckoning.
    Altho on Cup day it could be a tad congested.
    Take a Captain Cook at the RMH wine storage facility. I hesitate to call it a shed — ‘warehouse’ sounds a tad Melb. Docklands.
    The RMH and its wine list regularly feature in the Age Good Food Guide. And so they should.
    Even after the gun chef decamped for a little hamlet not far from Geelong the RMH is still a top nosh destination.
    And you’ll be there. Right on the doorstep.

  17. It’s General Jackson’s night tonight at the Valley and look out for Testanova in the second last

  18. That’s a good sprint tonight….where’s Fab Fevola?

  19. Jock , I’m with you on both, the good General finally draws a gate, and Luke Oliver gave a huge push for Testanova, reckons it jars up terribly on hard tracks, and specifically targets the Valley strath surface

  20. General Jackson:sacked, fortunately had a saver on the winner so no disaster

  21. muncher

  22. Skip,
    Are you at Dunkeld tmrw?..if so, make yorself known – I’ll be at the Wayne Elliott stand

  23. Budge,

    Yeah, sad the passing of Rough Habit and the winner of the 3200m Caulfield Cup Veandercross. I have it it on good authority though, that another Great Kiwi, Bonecrusher is still kicking around at a miraculous 32 years of age. By name, by nature.

    Crio, I like your thoughts re Sweet As Bro. Reckon vast improvement will surface.

    Also like Seenaan each way in the Guineas. Ran well last time and just drops his head like a horse who will relish the mile. Out of a Zabeel mare and his third dam ( Budge will love this) is by Sound Reason from Sanderae.

    I’m here all week.

    Best luck to all involved.

  24. Did you find Morgan’s?

  25. Epingle in the WFA 2400, good strong 4th to Le Roi which is good measuring stick.

    You’re not throwing too many tips this week , weak heart? Lol

    Ducal Castle. Was held up last run and came home like a train, watch this space…

    Good luck punters

  26. I’m backing on Rhythm to Spare who pulled up lame and they couldn’t make any ground from back in the field last week so I’m expecting a big improvement remembering it should have at least been placed in the Toorak and the only other runner who can be competitive in the field at Group level is Sonntag 2nd up.

    Along the same lines and while he lacks the class of some of the others, I will have something on Rawnaq who also couldn’t make ground from the back last time out. Spillway doesn’t stay, Michelle Payne is back on the Prince and Green Moon has had an interrupted prep.

    I think Politeness wins the last but may have something on Nautical if it gets out past 20’s.

    War is Over wins the 5th in Adel and Alpha Man is a chance at fair odds in the 7th.

    Only other certainty is that Elvis will have a big one in Melbourne and probably at least one desperately unlucky punting story.

  27. Had a lovely day in Yea. Nice weather, good crowds, pleasant weather, racing how you want it. I only had 3 bets, but 3 winners! I’m happy with that.


  28. Genius Glen.
    No scratchings in the first I hope!
    We are thru Ballarat still returning from Dunkeld. Good little meeting tho we managed to lose.

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