Mixed feelings about the Melbourne Cup result I must admit.
Max Dynamite and Frankie Dettori carried some of my hard earned, both ante-post and on the night.
Yet it was a heart warming story to see Michelle Payne boot home the locally trained 100/1 chance Prince Of Penzance.
As horse and rider came in to be greeted by groom Michelle’s brother Stevie who has down syndrome, it seemed that racing had yet again produced a magical story that even
the Walt Disney team would not dare script.
Fitting too, as Aussie racing – and the Melbourne scene in particular – badly needed a fairytale, and we’ll return to that in a moment.
For the second week in a row in a big race it was a decidedly less than an inspiring ride from Frankie Dettori, again waiting for a gap that didn’t appear.
Yet again though those scribes who were doing cartwheels of joy at his Arc performance had suddenly gone to ground.
Jockeys, like the rest of us, regularly make mistakes but it would be nice to think that all get equal treatment from the racing media but that clearly isn’t so.
Ryan Moore brought race riding to a new level at Royal Ascot last June yet his Ascot Gold Cup effort on Kingfisher was deplorable.
To his eternal credit he made no bones about that himself, yet the TV and print media in the main simply looked the other way.
Now can you imagine the inquisition if Joseph O’Brien was the pilot in question?
Back to the goings on in Melbourne.
About a week before the big race and just a few miles away from the track at Flemington, six semi automatic rifle shots were fired through the front door of Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey’s home.
It may sound like something from a Dick Francis best seller but this all too real and every bit as sinister as it seems.
Luckily Bailey, his wife and children were out the back at the time and escaped uninjured.
Police are treating the matter very seriously and have moved the family to temporary accommodation elsewhere as investigations continue.
A defiant Bailey said: “I was pretty angry – there is no need for that.”
“There are 900 trainers in Victoria, a lot of people are relying on us to make sure the place is run on a level playing field and we’ll keep doing that.”
“I’m not going to walk away from that, the show must go on.”
A week before Racing Victoria head of integrity Dayle Brown reported to police he saw a “bikie wearing a skull bandanna” lurking near his house.
That there is a seedy and sinister side to the racing game Down Under is well proven.
A few years back Damien Oliver, who twice rode the winner of the Melbourne Cup, was banned for ten months for having a €10,000 dollar bet on the winning horse in a race where he was riding something else.
By far the biggest problems to surface so far however have been doping related.
And the authorities must carry their share of blame here as it was only last year that a ban on the use of anabolic steroids on horses out of training came was enforced.
Over 30 trainers are under investigation for serious doping offences including Black Caviar’s handler Peter Moody.
Moody has hit out over his treatment by officials and threatened to “throw his license across the table” and quit the sport.
Sensationally, he accused Bailey, Brown and another RV official Dr Brian Stewart of trying to employ a man to work as an informant in his stables.
He faces a three year ban if found guilty of doping charges he faces.
One trainer has already been banned for 15 years.
Perhaps we shouldn’t get too sniffy about things on this side of the world, particularly in light of the Philip Fenton case.
And while we know that the racing authorities on both sides of the Irish Sea are unrelenting in cracking down on steroids, can we feel sure that EPO in some form or other is not in use?
Golden Horn has been outstanding, and lost nothing in Breeders Cup defeat to super filly Found.
The ground was blamed and possibly played a part, though a long season possibly took it’s toll too.
One word of caution for next season though should Found stay in training as hopefully she will.
Long experience has thought me that when it comes to odds Ladbrokes are often the shrewdest of the shrewd.
So it was slightly surprising to read Richard Wilmot’s comments that “granted cut in the ground” Found would be a major player in the Arc next Autumn.
While the Ballydoyle filly probably handles a sticky surface better than Golden Horn, make no mistake she loves it fast too.
Her debut win at The Curragh was on a very quick surface, though she won the Royal Whip there this year on sticky ground so she is certainly versatile that way.
Horse of the Year though has to be American Pharoah.
His front running Breeders Cup Classic win was truly awesome and he is the first Grand Slam winner, adding the Classic to the so often tantalisingly elusive Triple Crown.
And wouldn’t you just know it, Coolmore had long ago snapped him up for stud duties, and he’s currently settling in at their Ashford Stud, deep in the bluegrass heartlands of Kentucky.
There he’ll join a roster which includes Giant’s Causeway, Scat Daddy, Little Mo, Declaration Of War and Verrazano.
Mind you they have form in picking out potential stallions before they hit stellar heights on the track.
They had Montjeu booked before he won the Irish Derby, long before the Arc and the King George the following year, and he didn’t turn out too bad.
Back next Saturday.
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