Off to the wild, windy and wet West at Rosehill this week for an unseasonal heavy track. Just another variable to consider, I’d be looking to favour horses on speed, particularly early in the program.
The legendary Australian poet C J Dennis, fortunate enough to record one of the greatest periods of racing in this country, wrote of a situation familiar to every mug punter after the 1927 Melbourne Cup.
In a piece titled ‘A Post-Cup Tale’, also known by its familiar first line, “I’ad the money in me’and”, Dennis weaves a tale of woe and despair faced by punters every day.
He talks of his confidence on Cup morning around 6-1 fancy Trivalve, telling how he’d tipped it to his wife and his cousin.
But then, an urger – Jim Smith – tells him Trivalve can’t win the Melbourne Cup, saying he’s not well.
Of course, Trivalve went home to win by a length, with Dennis becrying his misfortune.
“I ‘had the money in me ‘and!”
It is the punter’s lament, the worst thing imaginable – jumping off a horse just as it hits winning form.
However, there is another form of torture for the punter – backing a horse at a good price, only to see the horse miss out.
It was a lesson I was to learn the hard way last Saturday after the Stradbroke Handicap.
After hours of form analysis and research, I’d identified the horse I thought fit the right profile for a Stradbroke winner.
He came out of the right form race, the Doomben 10,000, and his run had been good. He met each of his rivals out of the same race better at the weights, and unlike most of the fancies, he’d drawn perfectly.
The horse was Spirit of Boom.
Incredibly, he was $31 the win, $8 the place. At that price, he was worth a crack. I jumped on.
By Friday morning, he’d been backed into $21. With money flowing, I decided to load up once again.
My head told me it was impossible to be confident in a Stradbroke Handicap, of all races. My heart told me I’d found the right horse and to stick firm.
At the jump, Spirit of Boom had been backed into $13. I was clearly on the right horse, and with money on at $8 the place, I just needed him to run in the top three for it to be a very good result.
He broke cleanly, settling third just behind the leader.
He looked to be racing slightly keenly, but he was in the perfect position if good enough.
Upon straightening, he looked a winning chance briefly before grinding away. However, even as Linton produced his electric turn of foot to fly along the rail, Spirit of Boom looked likely to grab third.
Then I saw Streama flying out wide.
On the line, I was confident – he’d run third, the each way bet had paid off.
As Sky Channel showed the slow motion finish, however, my confidence waned. He was third a metre before the line, he was third a metre past the line. But right on the wire, Streama had bobbed.
And then, the numbers came through. Linton had beaten the perennial bridesmaid Buffering, surely destined to finish his career without a Group 1. And third had gone to…Streama.
Spirit of Boom was fourth.
My neighbours probably improved their vocabulary in the minute after the result went up, with my anger and distress clearly audible.
It is the new age punter’s lament, far less artistic and creative than the poems of Dennis. Like Dennis, though, I was left with a bruised and battered ego and an empty wallet.
Despite my disappointment at the photo for third, I was thoroughly impressed with the win of Linton.
His acceleration was outstanding, his determination superb, and it was great to see Nick Hall take the opportunity to stick to the inside.
The move was risky and could easily have backfired. Instead, it goes down as one of the more memorable Group 1 victories of this racing season.
It is also a tribute to the strength of last year’s Cox Plate.
Subsequently, first (Ocean Park), second (All Too Hard), third (Pierro), fifth (Shoot Out), seventh (Green Moon), 10th (Happy Trails) and 12th (Linton) have all won Group 1 races, while eighth (Proisir), 11th (More Joyous) and 13th (Glass Harmonium) have all finished second in Group 1s.
Given Southern Speed and Rekindled Interest have not raced since, it leaves fourth-placed Ethiopia (who has had excuses at his last two runs) as the only horse not to carry the Cox Plate form beyond the spring.
It is a shame that four of the first six home will not race again.
The other main story from Eagle Farm on Saturday was the emergence of two more staying prospects for Chris Waller in the form of Queensland Derby winner Hawkspur and Brisbane Cup winner Moriarty.
Hawkspur may lead the ever-diminishing team of locally bred gallopers heading towards the major Cups in the spring after his demolition of a good field in the Queensland Derby.
It was his third straight success in such a fashion and as has happened before, the winter campaign seems to have transformed him into a serious staying prospect.
It remains to be seen whether he can step up to the Caulfield Cup or Melbourne Cup, though.
As for Moriarty, don’t be surprised to see him figure in the Cups in the spring.
While it seems a big leap on what he’s achieved this campaign, the Brisbane Cup has been a good spring guide the last few years, with Viewed (Melbourne Cup), Scenic Shot (Mackinnon Stakes), Tullamore and Lights of Heaven (both placed in the Caulfield Cup) taking their form into bigger races.
Both Hawkspur and Moriarty add to a stellar line-up for Waller in the spring, including Beaten Up, Foreteller, Kelinni, Lunayir, Royal Descent and Shoot Out.
Group 1 winners Metal Bender and My Kingdom of Fife are also still listed as in training with the Rosehill horseman, although it remains to be seen whether both will appear during the spring.