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.
Racehorses are a little like politicians. Not everybody loves them and even among those who do, we all have our favourites.
It takes a pretty special thoroughbred to cross party lines, and to inspire the love and respect of everyone – even those who never profited by him.
The great Zipping is such a horse.
Zipping’s multiple successes in the race that now rightly bears his name are well documented. He started favourite in most of them, so punters whose carnivals up to that point had not produced the hoped-for returns had every chance to staunch the bleeding.
I was one such punter, but for me, Zipping will be best remembered for the times when he didn’t win. His unplaced runs in multiple Melbourne Cups were very courageous. Had luck gone his way in at least one of them, he could certainly have won.
The ‘failure’ that best typified Zipping’s fighting qualities and big heart was his great second in the 2008 Cox Plate behind Maldivian.
He settled back in the field in a slowly-run affair, before jockey Danny Nikolic set him alight in the middle stages to sit outside the leader and eventual winner.
You could almost feel his muscles straining in the straight to catch Maldivian, but the task proved just beyond him.
The Taj Mahal will attempt to become a mini Zipping by going back to back tomorrow. In so attempting, TTM confronts a far weaker line-up than he did last year.
The low quality of some of this Spring’s meetings has been a recurring theme of my articles.
A broken record is the simile that might come to the minds of my less generous followers, but tomorrow’s Zipping Classic is the worst in recent memory.
There are only eight runners, and quite a few of them are either out of form, lack weight-for-age credentials or both.
TTM is probably not going quite as well as he was this time in ’17, but based on what I have stated above, he does not need to be.
Perhaps more importantly, his form is definitely better than it might appear. He has had no luck at all in his last two runs.
He was caught wide in both, and really had no chance to show his best. Caulfield-Cup form is always pretty strong, and this year’s Moonee Valley Cup has already produced Trap For Fools (bless him), who took out last week’s Mackinnon Stakes.
Once again, TTM has had no luck in the barrier draw, but this should be less of a problem in the small field.
Punters may have noticed that Caulfield-Cup runner-up Homesman, and beaten Melbourne-Cup favourite Yucatan were both in this event until final acceptances were declared.
I would have been quite happy to support TTM in the presence of those two runners, so I have to back him with confidence in this truncated final field.
In my final article for the carnival, I have to give the broken record one more spin. The support card to the Zipping is very poor.
The Sandown Guineas has produced some very good horses over the years, but I can’t see that happening this year.
Note that only one of the top five runners, Ringerdingding, who is no champion, has won at any of his previous four outings. Finding the winner of this event will be difficult, and is not a challenge I wish to set myself.