The return of my weekly specials comes this Saturday, 29 June, at Caulfield.
The Brisbane winter racing carnival has come in for plenty of criticism in recent times, and not unjustifiably so.
The well-documented problems with the Eagle-Farm renewal and the not unrelated reshuffling of much of the winter program in recent years have left many punters dizzy if not disaffected.
While I have been happy to climb aboard this particular band wagon, I do feel obliged, as a lover of racing and my home state of Queensland, to find something positive to say about the carnival as it reaches its conclusion this Saturday.
To be fair, such wasn’t too difficult. While class has certainly been down, field sizes have been excellent in the major races, and it has been a tremendous battle between bookies and punters, with the latter thankfully coming out on top.
And notwithstanding the aforementioned class deficit, one or two horses who shone in the past few weeks, particularly among the two and three-year-olds, may go on to bigger and better accomplishments down the track.
The really good news for Brisbane carnival lovers is that the best is yet to come. Since it became Group 1 in 2007, the Tattersall’s Tiara really has grown to challenge the Stradbroke to be considered Queensland’s best horse race.
Even before the move to Group 1, it was a competitive event often featuring really top-flight fillies and mares. After all, Dane Ripper came up to take out the race in 1997.
Since the transition to G1, Yosei, Red Tracer, Cosmic Endeavour and Srikandi were all very good horses, so as I say, the Tiara does now rival the Straddy for class and likely future significance.
Poor horses don’t win this race, nor usually do out-of-form ones. Bearing this in mind, Saturday’s running presents punters with something of a conundrum.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Prompt Response is the best horse in the field, but whether she is in form might be another matter.
Those who have followed this horse’s career closely could not question hher ability. At certain times, she has been the most underrated horse In Australia, and until very recently, she seemed incapable of running a poor race.
While her strike rate is not exceptional, many of her seconds should have been wins, and importantly, plenty of her unplaced runs were actually very unlucky fourths and fifths.
She was a certainty beaten on Victoria Derby Day behind Shoals in the Group 1 mares race in 2017, as she was a few months later in the Coolmore Classic at Rosehill behind Daysee Doom.
Later, she hit a career peak, when running a cracking second to Alizee in the Queen of the Turf during the Randwick carnival.
As for her present form, frankly, there are serious question marks. After her slashing win in this event last year, she has gone winless, and has, in fact, rarely threatened to break through.
Her spring campaign in Melbourne was cut short when she was showing nothing, and her autumn/winter performances have been mixed.
Punters should look at her Dane Ripper run last start and make up their own minds, as I am having trouble making up mine.
I am pretty confident she can turn the tables onn Invincibella, who should not have beaten her in either of the past two Dane Rippers. Invincibella is a false second or third favourite on Saturday, as Prompt Response, for one, is in a superior league.
Spright has real quality, but looks highly suspect at a solid 1,400 metres, as Saturday’s race will doubtless prove. Something similar might be said of Outback Barbie, but she couldn’t win on her last start in any case.
Of the in-form runners, Pohutukawa was well served at the barrier draw, while Savatiano and Multaja were handed tricky gates.
All of this probably just muddies the waters, but I for one cannot bet against the brave bay mare, Prompt Response, who despite an indifferent barrier and questionable form, has the ability to defend her title from last year, and anyone who has been with her all the way would agree that another Group 1 success would be richly deserved.