After a solid result last week, Sydney racing takes a dip behind an exceptional Moonee Valley card.
This Saturday is moving day in Sydney and Melbourne as many horses look to strengthen their assault on the spring riches.
Sydney’s sparse staying tests
It was great to see an open class staying race in Sydney last Saturday with the running of the Colin Stephen Quality over 2400m in the build-up to this week’s Metropolitan. However, it was just the second open class staying race run in Sydney since the Sydney Cup back in April, with Winter Cup in June the only other non-benchmark staying race programmed.
During the same time period in Melbourne, there were eight open handicaps scheduled (ten, if you want to include the Andrew Ramsden and a $150,000 VOBIS race). These provide lightly raced stayers like Grand Promenade, Amade and Heart of Puissance an opportunity to progress through the grades and all are (or were, in the case of the latter) in contention for the Melbourne Cup.
It would also mean horses like Spirit Ridge, who carries 58kg in the Metropolitan for only winning off-season Group 3 and Listed contents, would find a more suitable pathway and avoid the handicapper.
The problem also extends to the three-year-old scheduling with only one race at 2000-plus scheduled on a Saturday in the same time period in Sydney. In contrast, there were nine three-year-old races over 2000m-plus run on a Saturday in Melbourne during that time (including three at 2400m-plus).
The Highways and Midways have been great concepts at providing opportunities for smaller and regional stables, but they rarely race over anything further than 1600m and never over 2400m-plus. In addition, Wagga have cancelled the Riverina Cup over 3800m two years in succession due to a lack of acceptors and it was a similar issue for the ATC on Melbourne Cup day at Randwick last year, when a 3200m race was also cancelled.
More breeding and owning incentives need to be introduced to snap this trend.
The good news for now is that we have open staying races scheduled in three of the next four Saturdays at Randwick.
Dual acceptors a nightmare in spring
The Epsom and Turnbull cards are arguably as high quality as it gets in both Sydney and Melbourne on the one day. Don’t get me wrong, the Everest and Caulfield Cups are great races, but both undercards don’t quite have the same depth as these two on Saturday.
However, dual acceptors have once again reared their ugly head. While some limits have been placed on dual acceptors within the same meeting, nothing has been implemented for acceptors across meetings in different states. There is absolutely no incentive for punters to launch into the Turnbull, Hill, Premiere or Gilgai Stakes markets when they initially open.
Recognition for Rising Fast
Next week will see the first running of the Group 1 Might & Power Stakes – registered as the Caulfield Stakes. It’s great recognition of the last horse to have won the three Melbourne spring majors, but I think Rising Fast (the only horse to have won all three in the same spring) deserves similar recognition.
Race names is not something we’ve always done well in Australia – Phar Lap only has a Group 2 named after him, Kingston Town has two races named after him (a Group 1 in Perth and Group 3 in Sydney), while Makybe Diva has a 1600m race named after her (albeit a Group 1).
Speaking of the Might & Power Stakes, expect to see an extremely small field next week line up alongside Zaaki in his final lead-up run to the Cox Plate.
Closer relationship for RSN and Racing.com
Expect to see plenty of talent from racing.com appearing on RSN and vice versa with Racing Victoria taking part-ownership of the station. A similar arrangement happens in Sydney with Sky Sports Radio and Sky Channel and makes financial sense. One RSN identity who won’t be featuring on racing.com will be David Gately, who is one of the main form analysts on Sky.
Holland set for spring success
Both Brett Prebble and Daniel Moor have certainly taken advantage of the opportunities they’ve been given in recent weeks with both claiming multiple Group 1s. Both were riding at Casterton and Donald in recent months, but have now become mainstays in Melbourne.
Another jockey looking to solidify himself as a regular feature winner is Dean Holland, who went oh-so-close to winning a Sydney Cup on Zacada many years ago. His work rate is second to none (having ridden at meetings every single day in the past fortnight) and looks set to be given opportunities on lightweight chances in some of the big feature handicaps.
Holland has one Group 1 win to his name (Patinack Farm filly Small Minds in the 2010 Australasian Oaks) but will have plenty of opportunities to win one in his home state this spring.