The All Aged Stakes program at Randwick on Saturday certainly has the feel of the Zipping Classic meeting at Sandown in November. Everyone knows that the party is just about over, but a few stragglers are hanging on, desperate to keep the embers alight.
This is as true for the punters as it is for the thoroughbreds, and for many of us it really would be sensible to follow the horses into the paddock for a long spell.
On the other hand, if Saturday is good enough for the likes of Osborne Bulls and Pierata, it is certainly good enough for me.
The All Aged Stakes is a race with a rich and storied history. When I did some checking in preparation for Saturday, some fascinating facts came to my attention.
The race was first contested in 1865 and has been won by some of the greats of the turf. Carbine, Wakeful, Tulloch and Tobin Bronze all appear on the honour roll.
Ajax won it three times; Sunline and Rough Habit won it twice each. The event was taken out by a two-year-old in 1885. More recently, the All Aged enjoyed a golden era from 2011 to 2013, when it was won by Hay List, Atlantic Jewel and All Too Hard in consecutive years. Winx, meanwhile, has never won it.
The race has changed considerably over the 150 years since its inception. Until 2004 it was run over a mile or its metric approximation and was usually held one week after the Doncaster. This latter fact might be especially relevant to deliberations on the likely result. Horses have backed up successfully from the Doncaster since 2004, but it does seem that the TJ Smith form has become stronger in recent times.
For this reason Osborne Bulls and Pierata are dominating the market and deserve to do so. The two have not often met, but they did so in the TJ Smith, with the result being somewhat inconclusive. Osborne Bulls had his chance, and some are starting to worry about his propensity for running second in big races. Pierata, meanwhile, seems to be mixing his form this preparation, which is always a bit troubling.
Regular readers of my columns will be relieved to learn that I will not be offering a tip, but I would say that I think Osborne Bulls and Pierata should be a bit closer to each other in the betting. I just feel that Osborne Bulls is not totally proven, while I am absolutely convinced that 1400 metres is Pierata’s best distance, such that he does appeal at around $5.
Good luck, punters, and see you in Brisbane.