There is an old adage in business that you have to innovate to remain relevant.
Well maybe it is not that old, but you do seem to hear it all the time. And while racing must protect its traditions, there is always room for improvement.
To the extent that the dictum should be embraced by racing administrators, the Sydney authorities seem to have taken it more to heart than their Melbourne counterparts, with the growth of the Championships and the arrival of the Everest being the obvious examples.
While Melbourne did appear to be languishing somewhat, the running of the inaugural All-Star Mile this Saturday should redress some of the imbalance.
And what a wonderful inaugural running we have to anticipate. Australia’s second-best mare will clash with Australia’s second-best horse/gelding. I don’t think there is much doubt about Alizee’s claim on the number two ranking behind Winx, and as for Happy Clapper’s position, I’m comfortable in asserting that The Autumn Sun is the best horse/gelding currently racing.
We can all only hope that The Autumn Sun and Winx might clash later in the Sydney carnival. The myth that Avilius might be the heir apparent to Winx certainly exploded with a bang last Saturday. And yes, I am still recovering from the shock of Shillelagh’s inability to get past Harlem in the Australian Cup. Sometimes, like life, racing just isn’t fair.
In assessing the likely outcome on Saturday, it must be kept in mind that the two leading contenders had real gut-busters at their latest outings. Alizee was incredibly brave in getting over the line in the Futurity, while Happy Clapper did a fantastic job to run Winx to a length or so after setting a frantic pace in the Chipping Norton.
It really does seem to be a match race, and it is one of those contests that punters can look on with pleasure, even without having a bet. If forced to have a stab, I would probably opt for Happy Clapper, only on the basis that he never runs a bad race, and is no stranger to gut-busting runs.
He might just have more in the tank at this stage of his preparation. On the other hand, Alizee was very strong at her last go at a mile, when beating Prompt Response at Group One at the end of last year’s Autumn carnival.
Some are including Mystic Journey and Amphitrite in considerations, but I just can’t see it. The former was the beneficiary of a brilliant ride last start in an extremely weak Australian Guineas but will find it much harder in this class from a wider draw. The bookies must take her on at $3.60. I wouldn’t take anything under $6.
Amphitrite just looks out of her depth. Generally, I think it is a very poor year for three-year-olds.
The lead-up to the Golden Slipper, meanwhile, continues in Sydney on Saturday. The record books tell us that the Slipper winner is rarely seen the week before the main event, and I am happy to use this as my guide.
The fillies have had the wood on the colts and geldings in recent years, and I do like the way that Exhilarates is travelling, but a lot will depend on the barrier draw as always.