It’s a good thing for racing that for one day a year, everyone wants to back the winner of one race. It is a tradition that easily could be lost. Once it is gone it will never return.
The Cup has been losing its lustre with the way the Victoria Racing Club has marketed it has an elite event. It is the people’s race and that should not be forgotten. In the past couple of years it has moved away from what made it great.
The Cup is losing its connection with the Australian public. The raiders were a novelty when, 26 years ago, they first took our greatest prize. But the trickle of overseas horses has become a flood, making it hard for punters to identify with the runners.
The internationals should be welcomed but a ballot condition needs to be added that requires them to have a start in Australia in the preceding 12 months.
The feel around Melbourne this year was different; the excitement of Cup week was missing.
The Melbourne Cup was at the crossroads this year and Vow And Declare’s victory was the best result for the future. It took the Cup back to the 20th century when a stayer would show promise and then deliver it on the first Tuesday of November.
An Australian race needs Australian success stories.
The Melbourne Cup has been called the people’s race, the race that stops the nation, but this year it faced a storm of negative media around the sport, an ongoing international drag on the field and an attack from within the industry.
The welfare scandal had a negative impact on the crowd that went to Flemington on Tuesday and is a focus for the general public. The fact that just 81,408 turned out on a perfect day should be a wake-up call and show just how marginalised racing is becoming.
The Sydney-Melbourne battle is like racing’s Super League war, it gives people a reason to switch off at a time when they should be embraced.
It should not continue for another spring. There is room for all the events; they just need to be programmed to show racing at its best.
The Golden Eagle, which was a success given its field, could be run on the Saturday following the Melbourne Cup. It would be a way for racing to flourish with a nation’s celebration of the sport followed by an innovation which is destined to succeed.
Dame Giselle the best baby we have seen
Dame Giselle produced the best performance from a two-year-old this season in the Golden Gift, as Tassort did last year and Yankee Rose a few years ago.
Peter Snowden will hope she can go one better than Yankee Rose did when runner-up to Capitalist in 2016 come Golden Slipper day. He can concentrate on the world’s richest race for two-year-olds given the big prize from Saturday.
“She is very good and we know she will be in the Slipper now, which makes things easier,” Snowden said. “A $1 million race certainly gives you a big start for the autumn.
“She can have an extra week or two in the paddock, which can make a difference.”
Le Romain hunting The Hunter
The million-dollar spring showcase moves to Newcastle on Saturday for the first running of The Hunter.
Kris Lees will have a strong hand in the $1 million feature led by stable favourite Le Romain, which will run in Newcastle for the third time.
The triple group 1 winner won his maiden on the old track at Newcastle and his only other run at home was when he was a Cameron Handicap runner-up on the Beaumont track three years ago.
“I never thought I would get a chance to run him in at Newcastle again, but I didn’t think we would ever have a $1 million race on a standalone Saturday,” Lees said. “He was very good in the Redzel [Stakes] running third and the 1300m will be perfect for him.”
The Hunter meeting, followed by The Gong at Kembla Grange on Saturday week, will have an added benefit for racing in Sydney giving the city two weeks off in warm conditions.
Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald