The Roar
The Roar

Andrew Lemon

Expert

Joined June 2014

23.7k

Views

13

Published

27

Comments

Andrew Lemon wrote the three-volume History of Australian Thoroughbred Racing (Hardie Grant Books), joint winner of the biennial Australian Society for Sports History book award. A past president of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, in 2012 he held a John H. Daniels Research Fellowship at the National Sporting Library and Museum in Virginia, USA.

Published

Comments

Out he goes. At least no-one can blame me for losing their money on Cavalryman, or Sea Moon for that matter. So the selection now is Fawkner from Lucia Valentina and Admire Ratki. Protectionist for 4th, Willing Foe my sentimental roughie. Good luck all.

Melbourne Cup 2014: Your guess as good as my Cavalryman

Holding my breath for Cavalryman. If he’s out it’s hard to tip past the favourites. Fawkner nearly broke the record in the Cox Plate and his 2012 Caulfield Cup win was three seconds faster than this year’s CC (where both Rakti and Lucia were admittedly impressive). Fawkner loves Flemington and Nicholas Hall has the incentive to emulate his father Greg on Subzero. If you think Lloyd Williams has had his turn already, couldn’t agree more, but refer to article above re Turns. Team deserves credit for placing Fawkner so well.

Melbourne Cup 2014: Your guess as good as my Cavalryman

All true. Rakti was super admirable at Caulfield and is logical favourite. I worry that the race was slow, not that he set the pace. But don’t forget Red Cadeaux (2nd) was 60-1 in last year’s Melb Cup and (2nd) 50-1 when pixelled out in 2011, Green Moon (1st) 20-1 in 2012, Viewed (1st) 40-1 in 2009. When Fiorente ran second to Green Moon he paid $11.20 a place. Not all the professional punters were on these ones. So there is hope for a big run from any sentimental favourite of your own.

Melbourne Cup 2014: Your guess as good as my Cavalryman

As discussed in my posting last week, Ryan Moore may get lots of good chances but he is an astonishingly good rider and we were privileged to see his maiden performance at MV. As he pointed out in a post-race interviews, Moonee Valley is not the smallest track in the world (the Roodee at Chester near Liverpool for example is the same circumferance) so he clearly knew exactly what he was doing throughout the race. I agree with you that Nick Hall gave Fawkner a dream run. The horse relaxed into a good spot and did everything asked of him – a good pointer to the Melbourne Cup. But Moore’s judgement was impeccable.

Ryan Moore: gun jockey or lucky to be on the best horse?

Well we were on the money this time. Ryan Moore is certainly a champion. Adelaide now has the scope to be a champion, in the way I was describing, if they only let him be a racehorse before they turn him into fields of cotton wool, so let’s look forward to big things in 2015. Reading my words carefully in the article, I said “I think I’d include Fields of Omagh, with two wins, as a champion”, and that’s a fair call given the career and five Cox Plate starts: we loved him at the end. I said Ocean Park, like Shamus Award and Pinker Pinker, was “all very well”, but the careers as racing stars were too short, and there are no prizes for could-have-been-anything. If Ocean Park sires a Cox Plate winner, as Rubiton sired Fields of Omagh, I will happily promote him.

2014 Cox Plate: It's time for a Champion to step up to the plate

I stand corrected, thanks and apologies… the symbol (IRE) after his name should have been a clue, like the words ‘Aidan O’Brien’ and ‘Ballydoyle’. But I think at least Ryan Moore was born in England.

2014 Cox Plate: It's time for a Champion to step up to the plate

Ah yes, but it wouldn’t be the Cox Plate any more – just the Mackinnon Stakes a week early. Part of the challenge of the Cox Plate is for horses and jockeys to master the Valley, and there’s nothing more exciting than when champions do just that. If and when that goes, the magic of the Cox Plate will be gone for ever. Our racecourses also ought to be our city open spaces for everyone.

2014 Cox Plate: It's time for a Champion to step up to the plate

Which horse would you prefer in your stable?

(A) Fields of Omagh (by Rubiton)
45 races for 13 wins and 15 placings
Raced from age three to age nine, 2000 to 2006
Unbeaten as a 4YO
Three Group 1 wins
Five starts in the Cox Plate for two wins, one second, AND a third behind Makybe Diva (and a fifth behind Northerly)
Oldest winner of a Cox Plate
Eight Group 1 placed, including second in the Caulfield Cup behind Northerly
One Group 2 win and one Group 2 placed.
One Group 3 win
Three Listed Race wins.
Course Record Holder (still) 1600 metres, Caulfield 4 March 2006
Raced (but failed) in the big races in Japan, Dubai and Hong Kong.
$6.5 million in earnings
Retired to ‘Living Legends’.

(B) Ocean Park (by Thorn Park)
14 starts in two seasons (Nov 2011 to March 2013) for 7 wins and 4 placings
Three Group 1 wins in Aust (and two in NZ)
Two Group 1 placings in Aust
One Group 2 and one Group 3 placing in NZ)
$2.5 million plus NZ$382,463 in earnings.

2014 Cox Plate: It's time for a Champion to step up to the plate

Good judgement Brent Ford: Rising Romance and especially her jockey did you proud and nearly stole the race. Zac Purton did a great job to win on Admire Rakti who didn’t seem to mind being top weight. My pick Brambles ran a close and brave fourth, backed each way of course.

Caulfield Cup preview: History against topweights

What a difference a day makes! Dandino scratched. Gris Caro scratched. Bande scratched. Internationals in disarray. Jockeys Joao Moreira and Christophe Lemaire won’t be riding. Luke Nolen switches to his preference (and mine), Brambles. Ben Melham gets the lucky ride on Lidari as a result, Craig Williams transfers not to Big Memory but – according to Racing Victoria – to the second emergency, Araldo trained by Mike Maroney. Corey Brown rides Big Memory. Unchain My Heart gets a run after all for the Hayes crew, with Stephen Baster getting the ride. And it’s not even raining. Conditions will be perfect. I’m breathless already.

Caulfield Cup 2014: How not to lose your money

Thanks for the update Tim. Come on Brambles. I wrote my piece yesterday before the scratchings, but I will let it stand unedited as a testament to how I saw the race when the field was released. Then we can all have a good laugh after the event.

Caulfield Cup 2014: How not to lose your money

A lovely comment. I agree.

Black Caviar's foal leads off a good news week for everyone

Let me join the monologue. If you can find my writings of 2008 you’ll find I rated Makybe Diva as a marvel but never ahead of Carbine or Phar Lap or Wakeful, for that matter – yet her third Cup win was one of Australian racing’s greatest moments. Even so, when I talk to non-racing people now, Black Caviar is the one they love. The name is better, for a start. And they like Phar Lap. But as the man says in the article, sporting memories are short so a champion foal sooner or later is BC’s ticket to the future. Yet she won’t be forgotten. The very fact that you can invoke the names of Carbine, Grand Flaneur and Kincsem (no I am not staring blankly) shows that the glory of some turf stars can survive a century and more even if not household names. Carbine, by the way, is my all-time Australian Number One. Phar Lap and Black Caviar are among his descendants. And Tulloch. And Sunline. And Makybe Diva…

Black Caviar's foal leads off a good news week for everyone

True. So too do football, cricket, the stockmarket, boxing, cycling, rock music, art, religion… You have to make the choice which side you want to be on. There are angels and revelations in racing, believe me.

Beyond football codes, it's racing that stirs the country's soul

Correct Weight, BNR.

Secrets of picking winners in the mounting yard

Interesting comments. As Brent Ford says, the article simply asks racing fans not to take the annual premiership winning statistics at face value. Look beyond the obvious. Having said that, para 4 says exactly what I mean – you can’t be top if you’re no good. I salute the winners, I put in a good word for James McDonald who made it on his own ability in Sydney, and I confirmed that Damien Oliver is a legend.

But statistics are slippery and can distract us from recognising the talents of those who ride under the many disadvantages I mention.

By the way, I have always thought Luke Nolen deserved more credit than he sometimes gets for his rides on Black Caviar. He promoted the fiction that he was just the bloke on board. Miscalculation nearly cost him the famous race at Royal Ascot but I admired his coolness under extreme pressure with all the racing world watching. It was consummate horsemanship by Nolen and a real bond with Black Caviar that got the mare back into overdrive to make a winning lunge just as she was about to be beaten.

And I certrainly don’t discount strike rate. It’s a very good guide to top jockeys. The point is that the better jockeys more often have the luxury of picking and choosing their rides. It can conceal the fact that a bread-and-butter jockey who has to ride many no-hopers can still be a brilliant rider, given a chance. Don’t let them get under your guard.

Top jockeys? What the stats don't tell you...

Thanks Luke. My reason for looking at the French websites on the announcement of the retirement of Dunaden was in part to answer this question. The French are as parochial as Australians so when their horses, trainers or jockeys do well over here in the Melbourne Cup – a prestigious international race – it gets sports coverage. Same as when Australian jockeys won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (such as Sellwood, Moore, Pyers, Johnstone) it made news here – but only then. Bart Cummings’s twelfth Cup win with Viewed (2008) earned him a big write up in the official bilingual magazine “Courses et Elevage”. Dunaden’s breeder Count Edouard Decazes spoke fondly of attending the Melbourne Cup as a big event in the 1970s. If you don’t rate the Melbourne Cup highly, I’m told that winning it changes your opinion. Robert Sangster discovered this in 1980.

It's au revoir, as Dunaden hangs up his racing plates

Thanks Tim, my mistake – but actually we’re both wrong! Poseidon won the CC in 1907 after winning the 1906 Melbourne Cup – he also won the 1906 Caulfield Cup. And Skipton who won the MC as a three-year-old went on to win one of the two divisions of the Caulfield Cup when it was run at Flemington in 1943 during the war. (Call myself a racing historian?) Will correct this now in the text.

It's au revoir, as Dunaden hangs up his racing plates

It’s simple. Doug and his brothers help push Australian amateur tennis into international big-time professional tennis in the 1970s. Then Doug gets into racing in a big way and helps cajole the Melbourne Cup into the big-time international horse racing world. Both Australian events depend now on big rewards and recruiting celebrity athletes (four legs or two). The Ascot Gold Cup is a recruiting event for the Melbourne Cup. Writing about Ascot while writing an obituary for Doug Read and watching Nick at Wimbledon (I can multi-task) made me think about the connections. If Australian tennis wasn’t part of the Grand Slam world, the chances of Nick playing at Wimbledon at 19 would be remote. When Doug played at Wimbledon in 1954 at 19 he had to pay. Nick today gets big rewards. So in a very indirect way, Nick owes Doug.

Nick Kyrgios can send his Wimbledon thanks to a Melbourne Cup pioneer

Don’t forget you heard it first here on The Roar! (Well, more or less.) After last week’s article, Steven Pateman rode three out of three jumps winners at Warrnambool on Sunday 29 June. Three out of three puts us in mind of Adam Lindsay Gordon and B.R. Smith – not bad company if you look up your history books. Alfred is right, strength is a big part of the equation, along with a touch of elegance.

No World Cup, but Steven Pateman is an unknown champion

20,000 races a year. 20,000 winning stories. Multiply by that by the number of stories of ‘why we got beat’. That would be just the start.

No World Cup, but Steven Pateman is an unknown champion

You are largely missing the point, Mark. It’s not about champion frontrunners, but rather about the spectacle of horses who open up a 20 length-plus break in the running. Punters and the other jockeys don’t know if the horse is bolting, if the rider has gone mad, or if it’s part of a cunning plan. Might And Power’s sensational 7-length win in the 97 Caulfield Cup is one of the all-time great victories, but he did not start going more than a length in front of the rest till they got to the home turn. Then he took off. Sunline with her 32 wins was also one of the greats, but never raced beyond the Cox Plate distance of 2040 metres. A pregnant Black Caviar (furthest win 1400m) would have won only the first lap of the 3200 Stayers Cup. Astro is no champ yet, but it was a fine try and a clever ride by a new jockey. In my view the correct odds for all hopefuls this far out from the Melbourne Cup is 1000 to one.

The best horse race and the best ride in Australia

When we reach agreement between pro and anti jump race camps, let’s bring peace to the Middle East. For a considered look at the question, you might read my essay in Meanjin (vol 72 no.2, 2013), ‘The Steeplechasing Mind: Butch Londregan and the Smithwick Kid”. It is at http://meanjin.com.au/articles/post/the-steeplechasing-mind-butch-londregan-and-the-smithwick-kid/

Jumps racing: Is there a place for it in Australia?

I wrote on Harness Racing and on Coursing (long-forgotten parent of modern ‘speed coursing’ or ‘tin-hare’ greyhound racing) in the ‘Oxford Companion to Australian Sport’ (1992, 1994, 1997) only because the social and political histories of these sports overlap. Otherwise my passion is for the thoroughbreds.

The best horse race and the best ride in Australia

Try www.racingnetwork.com.au – look under FORM AND RESULTS for Race Replay Search. Find Randwick for 7 June, and look for race five.

The best horse race and the best ride in Australia