It’s a New Moon rising
In the aftermath of Green Moon’s dominant eclipsing of arguably the best Melbourne Cup field ever assembled, another equine ‘lunar’ force has emerged in the form of French-named Puissance de Lune, who clinically dismantled a quality field in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) on the final day of the 2012 Flemington Carnival.
Puissance de Lune, which interpreted from French means ‘power to the moon’, looks set to remain at the forefront of racing enthusiasts and bookies minds for the next nine months at least.
He has already been installed the early favourite for the 2013 Melbourne Cup at the prohibitive early odds of $8.00 in some markets.
While it remains the epitome of folly to be placing any wager on next year’s Cup before a single Carol has even been sung, hope may well spring eternal for some tragic punters looking to be conscripted early for the next wave of Spring racing’s French Revolution.
After distancing itself from the Bendigo Cup field like Tony Abbott from carbon tax, Puissance de Lune lined up against a Queen Elizabeth field comprised of many fancied Melbourne Cup horses who had not secured a Cup run. It was billed as the 2012 Melbourne Cup after party.
These included the Herbert Power winner (Shawardi), the Moonee Valley Cup winner (Vatavui) and Tanby, who had beaten Cup runner Maluckyday in the Bart Cummings.
Other runners included the 2011 Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Ironstein, promising Caulfield Cup runner Folding Gear (fifth in that race), Sheik Mohammed’s ‘Lost in the Moment’ which ran sixth in the Cup in 2011 and the Bart Cummings-trained and aptly named Dare to Dream, who was an unlucky second behind Kelinni in the Lexus Quality (2600m) on Derby Day, before the latter went on to run a credible fourth in the Melbourne Cup.
The Shamardal stallion followed up his eight-length Bendigo Cup romp with an arguably even more impressive five-length win over the highly credentialed field. The manner of the win prompted effervescent jockey Glen Boss to spruik immediately upon dismounting from the victor that he had, “just ridden next year’s Melbourne Cup winner”.
Trainer Darren Weir, who also trained Cup second placegetter She’s Archie (in 2003) dared not disagree, but he acknowledged the long winding road ahead to even reach the summit of having a Cup runner, let alone winning the race.
The five-year-old grey, who is owned by Gerry Ryan (who also owns 2010 Cup winner Americain) has now qualified for the 2013 Melbourne Cup and it will be a question of the weight he will be allotted.
He is in reasonable company as wonder mare Makybe Diva was allotted 51kgs after also winning the Queen Elizabeth in 2002, before her record-breaking hat trick of Cup wins.
However the more comparable horse is possibly seven-year old gelding Ironstein, who won the 2011 edition of the same race (and was left in the considerable wake of the winner in 2012) and then received 52.5kgs for the 2012 Cup, although he did not ultimately run.
Puissance de Lune can expect at least that weight, which should give him a chance to join the 2013 Cup field – if he makes it there in good order.
Next spring however the international contingent is expected to be stronger than ever, enticed in part by the estimated $6.5M on offer, with a sum nearing $3.8M for the victor alone.
One former international contingent looking to enter the fray again in the Spring Carnival if quarantine stars align is the Japanese, who quinellaed the 2006 Melbourne Cup last time they ventured south.
The dry hard tracks of 2012 and Australian conditions generally are an ideal match for the Japanese contingent, most of whom are well used to racing in such conditions back home and they would add another exciting flavour – and challenge – for all 2013 Cups aspirants.
Twelve months, though, is a long time in this time honoured staying event called life, let alone in the fleeting and fluctuating fortune that is thoroughbred horse racing. Fortunes can even dramatically change within three minutes and twenty seconds as the 2012 edition of the Cup well taught us.
But as the sun sets on yet another memorable Spring Carnival, with all her wondrous twists and turns, trials, tribulations and triumphs, another brightly-shining ‘moon’ could yet rise in 2013 and eclipse them all.