Saturday’s star was Hall Mark Stakes winner Our Boy Malachi. He was trained in North Queensland where he had an enviable record of 13 wins from 15 starts, but his Rockhampton-based trainer, John O’Sing, sensibly recognised his future was down south and sent him to the Hawkes stable late last year.
The Hawkes team has transformed him from a good horse to an awesome one. My figures show him improving more than a stone and a half (10kg) from his Queensland form. Incredible. Punters know a positive trainer change is a strong pointer. In this case, Our Boy Malachi already had plenty of racing under his belt, so the huge improvement is even more remarkable. He must be a strong contender for his home-state Stradbroke. Follow him.
Everyone enjoyed the final day of the Randwick carnival. It was great racing. But it was a shame about the track – which let us down again. Despite so little rain – 0.4ml precipitation on Friday and only 13.2ml over the previous week – warm days and a big false-rail shift, Randwick just didn’t cope after the two previous weeks of racing.
Quite a few horses “didn’t handle” the ground, with stewards reporting six disadvantaged. To my eye, they were throwing up lots of gunk. It seems there is a lack of proper roots. Randwick was once Australia’s best wet-track course. Now it is very fragile.
I still believe the people who did the Caulfield refurbishment should be asked to look at Randwick, as well as the problem child, Kensington. I’d tell them we don’t need a bowling green-type beautiful course, just one that copes with racing – as it always used to!
The Champagne Stakes, as a race for two-year-olds, was first run in 1861, with the conditions stating that it was expected that the winning owner would present the AJC Committee with two dozen bottles of champagne! I don’t think that was done on Saturday!
For most of its life, the Champagne was Sydney’s most valuable race for two-year-olds. Now it is the third leg of the Triple Crown over 1600m and a poor cousin. My good wife Gai, who has won two Triple Crowns, is strongly of the opinion that the Sires Produce and the Champagne have been moved too long after the Slipper. Gai explains: “It is just too hard to keep the babies going with the fortnight breaks. However, with a week back-up, they can shoot the breeze and do nothing and race again on the Saturday. It just doesn’t work with the 14 days.” This is counter-intuitive to me, but, like all wives, Gai is mostly right and she has convinced me that reverting them to be a weekly format would allow the Slipper stars to back-up.
As well as changing the dates, thought should be given to prizemoney. The Champagne has been allowed to slip. The Slipper and the Champagne used to be about the same in value. When Storm Queen won them both in ’65, she won $17,970 in the Slipper and $20,300 in Champagne. The Champagne needs to be topped up.
All Aged cash
On the subject of prizemoney, the joke of the day on Saturday was that “the All Aged Stakes should be renamed the GST” – being worth roughly 10 per cent of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes or the TJ Smith!
Having said that, Saturday’s weight-for-age All Aged was a remarkably strong renewal. In spite of the low purse, 10 of the 13 runners were previous group 1 runners. Nonetheless, prizemoney for the carnival has gone through the roof, thanks to Racing NSW and the NSW Government support, so $400,000 for this class now looks light on and so the race deserves a bit more parity.
Kerrin McEvoy may have taken some time to find his feet since being separated from Godolphin, but I thought his front-running ride on Packer Plate winner Hi World was outstanding. It was a skillful display of leading tactics, following on from a similar effort aboard Amanpour in the group 1 Queen Of The Turf last week.
I think the course broadcaster and the public misinterpreted the Hi World ride, thinking McEvoy spent too much energy leading. But the sectionals disprove that to me. Sydney has some great riders. Kerrin is underrated. Punters abandon him at your peril!
All racing people should wince with the surprise election of Mark Pearson of the Animal Justice Party. Pearson, who formerly worked in mental health, was quoted in this paper saying his parents instilled in him the need to “consider animals and consider those who can’t advocate for themselves, who don’t have a voice we understand”.
Sadly the Animal Justice Party, it seems to me, is little to do with animal welfare and is all about animal rights. They say humans and animals are equal. They ignore the fact that more than 50 per cent the world’s species are endangered while domesticated animals thrive. They hate horse racing. Let’s beware!
The fourth placegetter in the New Zealand Derby arrives at Gai’s stable today. It is called Dee I Cee, which represents the acronym “DIC” which stands for “Drunk while in charge of a vehicle”, the New Zealand equivalent of NSW’s DUI.
He is well-named, being out of Smashed All Night and a half-brother to Designated Driver. Gai, who is never lost for words, declares Dee I Cee now stands for “Destiny Is the Cups”!
The Sydney Morning Herald: April 19th 2015