Crio’s Racing: Sydney money trumps Melbourne tradition

How disappointing is this Flemington card?

That’s my reaction at release of Acceptances (Wednesday) for the Guineas meetings as the VRC and ATC go head-to-head with G1 Classic Miles for the colts.

It’s a no-contest. Randwick (proxy for Canterbury) presents a mouth-watering menu – Flemington a canteen version. The supports are similarly lopsided.

Down here in the world’s sports capital they’ve fidgeted with fixtures and ended up with a weekend that is disturbing to those who recall the great March Holiday double – or even the spruiked “Super Saturday” once the Monday became (as they all have on the Public Holidays now ) “provincial”. In fact RNSW has a Kembla card and RVL a 25-35K MV fixture as off-course habits dictate nowadays.

It would be harsh to belittle the HQ card as a dud, but we’re used to this being a bit of a big deal…and it ain’t. Undeterred, the VRC are marketing a “fashion takes a back seat as Food and Wine Festival hits Flemington” angle and their website features pretentious young flogs with adoring parents and no sign of a racehorse nor of the coup of getting D.Whyte and B.Prebble here for mounts! Victoria’s racing credibility is investing a lot in the Newmarket this Autumn.

Two MR races are probably worth a preview.

The Frances Tressady (MR6, 1400m, F+M, G3) has sometimes been notable. Tricky proposition here as Girl Guide is a big query – unlucky or not come up? – and Politeness doesn’t really win out of turn. I might go with Madam Gangster, admittedly usually better after a run, and box it with the 3 and 4 for a result.

Kermadec looks the key runner in the Australian Guineas (MR7, 1600m, 3yo, G1), with connections scratching from Sydney, where he’d be amongst a clutch of chances, and opting for a bigger prize and same rating down here. He’ll run fav and is the one to beat. The interesting inclusion is Alpine Eagle, the brilliant Blass colt which climbed of the Caulfield canvas for an astonishing win last start. It’s the old debate – run them while they’re fit and winning or be patient for future fruit. He’s back in distance on a class leap and a back-up so he’ll wanna be very good…as he may well be but I’d need 8/1. Wandjina, Chivalry, Fontein Ruby and Admiral (conqueror of The Cleaner last start) are amongst the other chances in what will be a spirited betting affair.

Meanwhile, again, the shambles that is Sydney racing has trumped Victoria. Undeterred by small fields, wasteful Randwick renovations, track bias, cobalt etc, the impact of massive prizemoney for The Championships is tilting the balance north of the Murray.

The 2yo emergers are still sorting out their pecking order and the first two races will help shape Slipper markets. Gai’s English (9) is the boom in the Reisling (SR1, 1200m, 2yoF, G2) but most of the 9 are worthy of consideration (including the 8 up from Melb).

The Todman (SR2, 1200m, C+G, G2) has only the 5 acceptors, but the clash of unbeaten Headwater, dominant last start, and Vancouver will be worth watching. Furnaces is also highly fancied.

On a really good card, there are three races later in the day which demand attention.

The Randwick Guineas (SR6, 1600m, 3yo, G1), formerly the Canterbury Guineas and the first leg of the prestigious Triple Crown, has a wonderful heritage. This year there’s an even bunch still jousting for primacy. Hallowed Crown’s very good but got the dream run to win a “blanket” Hobartville. Sweynesse, Shooting to Win and Scissor Kick lost no fans. This will be a ripper battle – pity, again, that the field size is so small.

The Canterbury Stakes (SR7, 1300m, WFA, G1) is fascinating – can Catkins get a G1 or is she just darned good at her SWP or Mares grade? I might spec Fontelina at the 20/1 first-up here.

The Challenge Stakes (SR8, 1000m, WFA, G2) is the other must-watch on a great day’s racing. The key Q here is Miracles Of Life first-up…quoted 7/1 I reckon she’s worth the try but wouldn’t join in if 4/1 or less.


I’ll be at Flemington on Saturday but keeping a very close eye on the Sydney flucs.

Monday I’ll take a break. The Valley is terrible and weather might be a bit flukey for Balnarring. Adelaide, of course, has its Cup, another former big day on the wane.

But, from the Hinnomunjie picnics to the Highway Inn’s tote, the aim’s the same…finding a winner.


And Good Luck.


  1. Crio – am I right that the real money in racing is with the breeders (and the corporate bookies/government TAB’s)? Melbourne has always had the better racing and trainers, but the Hunter Valley has always been the home of breeding and the top stallions (from Star Kingdom and Stanley Wooton onwards). I assume that is where all the money for the Championships comes from – wealthy stallion marketers and the Sydney Easter Sales?
    The corporatisation of sport continues apace, and we are still conditioned to froth at the mouth even when the bone has long since disappeared.
    $3.3M for Andy D (and presumably much the same for his successor). How does the Head Bean Counter/Wheeler Dealer come to be worth 3x more than the best players and coaches that put on the show?

  2. cowshedend says

    Crio, so true re quality at HQ tomorrow, love one in the Roy Higgins, the lightly raced Zabeel gelding Zadon, was a lovely run last start with plenty left in the tank at the end of the trip, the extra journey will suit it down to the ground, like Melham but the addition of Williams is a huge plus.
    Jock your crow re Alpine Eagle was spot on..freak! can it handle the 7day back up and going back to the mile? Love McEvoy as a trainer rarely gets it wrong.

  3. I noticed the fields for the Labour Day meeting @ the Valley. In recent years there’s been for example the CFMEU plate, the MUA stakes, the NUW handicap, the 8 hour day welter, etc, all keeping in with the theme of the importance of this public holiday. Looking at the fields i see now that every race title has the word Jeep in it ; what has happened here?

    Echuca Cup on Sunday, one i’d like to put on my bucket list, however it clashes with the Corowa Cup, the race that stops the old maternal family’s’ home town. We’lll be @ Corowa, with a story on the cards. Happy punting,


  4. Scissor Kick’s also out of the Randwick Guineas making it now 6 runners/3 chances. A combo of the Guineas would be good – neither are really worth the kudos but Flemington’s does, at least, look a really interesting betting race.

  5. I thought the issues with timing of the respective Guineas meetings in Melb & Sydney has more to do with Easter dates and getting the entire Sydney carnival done and dusted before they’re off to Brisbane. Still disappointing to see the best horses split up in different divisions.
    Re Alpine Eagle: I think they will hope it’s run very quickly because McEvoy was saying he would go to the SA Derby ( I thought AJC derby a better option for an extra $1 mil but McEvoy has trained a few more winners than me) and he may be looking for longer instead of coming back 200 metres, although Flemington will help. Maybe he’s a superstar in the making, if so 6/1 is luxury.

    Anyone got an opinion on Amorino’s last run, I thought it was really good and maybe a chance at odds in a smalll field in race 4 Another one that ran really well first up was Dig a Pony, fantastic last 400, just not sure if a wet track is needed.

    Might have something on Leebaz in the Canterbury stakes, good first up and probably get’s the drop on Tiger Tees, was most unlucky first up in Melb last time and then ran into Hucklebuck. I think Catkins is just short of the class required.

  6. Can’t get interested in the city meet Sat. However I will follow the locals on Monday with a few chances going around but have to say the Cup field looks ordinary
    Oakbank has a meeting soon as a forerunner to Easter. Bet you boys have some tales to tell about the famous course

  7. Jock – loved Alpine Eagle and even back in distance reckon Flemington and class might be enough, The filly leading will be the danger as she always finds plenty.
    Crio – don’t disregard Sworn To Silence in the Randwick Guineas. All his runs have been good and will love the extra distance.

  8. Jock,

    Adelaide Cup. At the expense of exacerbating a less than desirable reputation for pulling the wrong rein, I sold a half sister to Crime Fighter late last year for what amounted to just over 7 cartons of Benson and Hedges. I still reckon I’m a good judge, just got to get that crucial timing thing right. Get on. History, I am sad to to say, says it wins.

  9. Sound like a certainty to win now.
    The half sister then rockets in value to 10 cartons of B&H due to the huge prestige of the Adelaide Cup!!
    Just have 50 on it and hope it wins Elvis,

  10. Still scouring fields but, as yet, can’t see a bet I’ll be having this weekend (maybe try cowshedend’s tip for the practice)

  11. Elvis,
    Roger likes Crime Fighter so game over for it. Go for the doctor and lay it on Betfair.
    7 cartons of B&H must be worth at least a few grand now. ha ha, sadly I know exactly how much they are.
    Adelaide Cup day resembles tonights Cranbourne meeting for at least 6 races, very disappointing, also the cup field. When Dodgy was tipping Crime Fighter and Lucky etc. ( 3 pints in) I thought that they may struggle at 3200 and I’d probably have something on Too Cool to Fool if a gun was at my head.
    Looking to get a bank to fund Warrnambool and hoping to get the required time off, who else is on board?

  12. Ciaron Maher would be happy with Chloe in Paris, less so with Akovouron. The latter started its career with a great winning run, but the wheels subsequently fell off. Backed into $1-90 yesterday, only to finish 5th in a 6 horse race. Shades of Minson.

    Corowa Cup today, i’m interested in Brian Cox’s old fella, Heart of Angels, also grand Sai Wan.


  13. Akovouron blew like the north wind on track Saturday, something was up!

    Probably felt the hard track……

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