Turnbull Stakes Preview – Vale Robert Flower

Greetings all,


The 70s and 80s are revered as being a tough era, but through that time one of the best players was one slight of build, fair of play, loaded with skill and abundant with courage.  To watch Robert Flower was to watch as pure a player as there has been.  Never got to play a final till his final season as he stayed loyal through 272 games with Melbourne, but was always one of the first picked when EJ Whitten convened the Victorian Selection panel.  Getting glimpses of his play was one of the highlights of World of Sport if the Dees were not on the replay.  What a sad day it is to hear of his passing.




As a Carlton tragic my dislike for the Essendon Football Club and James Hird has come easily over the last two years.  But the last couple of days has me in a quandary, with the EFC and the Golden Boy at loggerheads I just don’t know where my dislike should be most directed!  Trying to be objective in this diatribe is even more difficult.  St Jim has espoused his care and feelings for the club and players despite both groups asking him to let it go.  I don’t believe James, the players or the club knowingly went outside the rules; but they did not appropriately control substances that were administered and for the sanctity of sport globally the penalties for that lack of control are harsh and specific.  As difficult as it is for me I have to choose the golden boy for my greater dislike over the club.  What will be the reaction be should Mark Thompson be appointed coach of the Gold Coast in the next few days?  As an aside it is interesting to see Ahmed Saad looking to return next season.


The silly season continues, with the games and charades to take place over the next couple of weeks, for most clubs it will simply be shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic but a couple will strike gold.  Unfortunately for the competitiveness of the competition those likely to strike are in the upper echelons of the ladder, this has to be HQ’s biggest challenge even above the Bombers.  Clearly sides in the lower reaches of the competition require a positive action type arrangement to make them more attractive to those players on the move.


Listened to the media types beating up on Mick on lamenting Jarrad Waite’s decision to leave after enjoying the coach’s hospitality the week prior.  Yep Mick does like to spin everything his way, but I also can’t work out why players whose season finished four weeks ago have to wait so long before informing their club of their intention to leave.  Once again I can’t work out why clubs not in the hunt persist in playing such players rather than learning about other younger players on the list.


Much has been said and written about the Grand Final – with the quality of the game I would suggest too much.  Sydney’s lack of competitiveness was on show early and the lack of leadership on and off the ground quite confounding.  But for everything they got wrong the Hawks got it right.  The matchups, the aggression, the targeting of players and the selections.  Much was made of their disrupted year and their ability to deal with those challenges deserves appropriate kudos.  By the same token it all fell perfectly for the Grand Final, they took their best possible line up into the game and they executed perfectly.  Whilst I did select the Swans, the $2.50 proved great value for the Hawks and even better with the $4 offered by the most annoying bookie on earth.


Meanwhile the Spring Carnival really kicks off this Saturday with the Turnbull Stakes plus a terrific support card at Flemington and three Group One events at Randwick.  Should be a fantastic day’s racing and give a great sight to some of the classics over the next few weeks.  But with such quality fields honing in on the winners can be a challenge, by the same token finding them can be rewarding.




The Bart Cummings (G3, 2520m, Quality)

This race used to be a pretty good guide to the Melbourne Cup, but that has waned lately with the increase of overseas contestants.  However it is still a good contest with a few cup hopefuls looking to improve their chance of getting a run in the big one.  Could not have been more impressed with CJ Waller’s Who Shot Thebarman (3) at his last start and G Boss is the pilot again.  He will be at short odds especially with the scratching of Spillway, so I am also looking at Sea Moon (1) and Ethiopia (5) who are both fresh but their trainers are very astute with stayers.  Marksmanship (6) has been disappointing of late but is up to this at his best.

Selections Race 3 – 3-1-5-6


Gilgai Stakes (G2, 1200m, SWP)

An impressive line-up of sprinters will charge down the straight six and in keeping with the previous summary Chatauqua (4) was probably the most impressive winner at the last Flemington meeting.  The vanquished on the day was Temple of Boom (5) who meets him with a 6kg advantage and might present better value, but then again Bounding (11) from across the ditch has never finished out of the top two from 11 starts.  There are plenty of others of interest of which PGM’s Il Cavallo (9) who jumps in grade but has a great record, Flamberge (3) is well up to the grade and River Lad (1) was a star during the winter in Brisbane.

Selections Race 5 – 4-5-11-9


Edward Manifold Stakes (G2, 1600m, 3yo Fillies SW)

There are a couple of lightly raced but undefeated fillies stepping out here and I suspect that Maastricht (9) will maintain that record despite stepping up from country grade.  The Smerdon pair Fontein Ruby (2) and Crafty (3) have won here and get weight relief from their last starts.  Always be on the watch when D Yendall comes to town so I am wary of Little Hottie (13) and Royal Ocean (5) has good form in lesser grade.

Selections Race 6 – 9-2-3-13


Turnbull Stakes (G1, 2000m, SWP)

This year sees a terrific field line up for the Turnbull including the quinella from last year’s edition in Happy Trails (2) and Puissance de Lune (8)Entirely Platinum (12) didn’t quite get to Gris Caro(13) in the Underwood but looks like he is running into good form.  Then the Uncle-Nephew team of Hayes-Dabernig pulled Crackerjack King out of this to ensure Stipulate (17) got a run, a win here gets him closer to a run in the cups.  Silent Achiever (6) will be much fitter for her third run in, suspect Roger James is targeting her next start but at her best she can win this.   But the chances don’t end there with most of the field capable on their day.

Selections Race 7 – 12-8-6-17


Blazer Stakes (G2, 1400m, Mares SWP)

The ladies contest the Blazer and May’s Dream (1) for DK Weir is 3 from 3 second up and looks well suited, Bonaria (2) has terrific record at headquarters.  Suavito (10) is a consistent performer and Nautical (12) ran a massive race last start.  A couple of others to note Scratchy Bottom (11) undefeated first up and Girl in Flight (6) would almost be top pick but for a poor barrier.

Selections Race 8 – 1-2-10-12


Royal Randwick

Not quite the last hurrah for the Sydney Spring with the Spring Champion Stakes next week but certainly the big day of the spring.  A smattering of group races lead up to the three Group Ones which complete the program.


The Epsom (G1, 1600m, HCP)

The famous Randwick mile has been a very successful course for Gai Waterhouse and she has three contestants, but not to be outdone CJ Waller fronts up with four.  The Hawkes team has Toydini (3) getting close to his peak, the Waller pair Royal Descent (2) and He’s Your Man (6) are very good and Laser Hawk (4) is usually around the mark.

Selections Race 7 – 3-2-6-4


The Flight Stakes (G1, 1600m, 3yo Fillies SW)

Winx (1) and First Seal (2) have dealt with Earthquake so must be very good, however PGM scratched Thinking of You (6) from the fillies race in Melbourne for this.  She won very impressively last start and may represent better value.  Dynamic Rock (9) to fill the last hole.

Selections Race 8 – 6-1-2-9


The Metropolitan (G1, 2400m, HCP)

A race a varying standard from year to year but one that has produced many cup winners and placegetters, not sure about the quality of this renewal.  Waller again has plenty in and the Uncle-Nephew team scratched Spillway (3) from Melbourne for this.  Junoob (1) for CJW is pretty well in here with only 2.5kg above the minimum, Kingdoms (10) closed hard to He’s Your Man, there must be some confidence in Spillway (3) and would have rated Disclaimer (13) higher but for the barrier.

Selection Race 9 – 1-10-3-13



Good luck a very difficult day in Melbourne but would be handy to snare it.



Race 6 – 2,3,5,9,13

Race 7 – 2,6,8,12,17

Race 8 – 1,2,10

Race 9 – 2,8,10,11

300 Combinations $30 investment 10% Dividend


Hope everyone has great weekend and spare a thought for Robbie and his family,


Cheers, Sal




  1. Neil Anderson says

    I’ve been wanting to refer to this description of play concerning Robert Flower for over thirty years. I read it in The Age newspaper sports section at a time when I was doing a part-time arts degree and being a bit up myself and going to uni, I started reading The Age instead of The Sun News Pictorial.
    The report concerned Robert Flower and Laurie Fowler who was also playing for Melbourne in the early eighties. From memory Robbie Flower was probably starring as usual and Laurie Fowler maybe having an off day. The reporter said something like, “Flower is playing his usual stylish game on the wing, picking up lots of possessions, unfortunately the ‘anagramatic’ Fowler is not having one of his best days.”
    I couldn’t imagine Lou Richards and his ghost-writer coming up with that little gem in The Sun.

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