Bob Hawke was nonplussed. He’d just gotten off a typically eloquent speech in front of a claque of media, and no-one had a question for him.
Spring racing is upon us with the Aurie’s Star in Victoria and the Missile Stakes in Sydney suddenly appearing on the landscape, jolting punters out of their winter slumber.
Both races this year are chock full of horses that potentially could leave an indelible mark on one or both carnivals in those states.
Looking at both fields, you would have to say the Missile in Sydney looks the more likely to unearth a Spring star, but there is one horse in the Flemington Group 3 sprint down the straight that appeals to me as the horse to watch today: Crackerjack King.
Crackerjack King is a half brother to the G1 winner Jakkalberry, who ran a mighty race to take third in the 2012 Melbourne Cup won by Green Moon, and the reasonably performed mare Freezy – who like this horse, started her career in Italy, but now calls Australia home, having won 3 of her 11 starts here.
Arguably had this horse not been injured and out of action for nigh on two years now, he would have eclipsed the record of both his siblings. That is not hard to ascertain given he had star mare Danedream 6.5L behind him when he won the Italian Derby in Rome in May 2011.
It is history now that that mare went on to win the 2011 Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe later that November by a devastating 5L margin, beating the likes of Aussie champion So You Think and quality mare Snow Fairy who had won a G1 race in Japan the previous year by 4L.
Trainer David Hayes did have plans to run this horse in the 2013 Cox Plate but had to keep Crackerjack King on ice for another year given the bowed tendon injury that sidelined him the previous year was deemed not to have healed adequately.
It would be a big ask to expect the horse to figure in the finish today at a distance well short of his best after such a long layoff and I would imagine his connections would just love to see him making up a bit of ground on the placegetters late in the race.
The statisticians amongst us though would salivate at his 4/4 record first up (albeit none below 1800m) and would also point out his 3/3 second up record if he makes it through this race unscathed.
Stranger things have happened though and a win isn’t totally out of the realms of possibility, and the odds are generous given this isn’t the strongest rendition of this race – far from it in fact.
Many imports do perform very well at Flemington their first try – quite a few Melbourne Cup winners amongst them!
I’ll be watching on with great interest today (as will others I’m sure), and let’s just hope he can run a really nice race and at least get through to his ultimate goal this Spring, which appears to be the 2014 Cox Plate.