Hot favourite Tarzino a risk in Victoria Derby

Saturday’s card at Flemington is the best day’s racing anywhere in the world. I’m so excited to be fielding there on the rails.

The main race is the Victoria Derby, viewed by most as the “true” Australian derby, being designed (like its English inspiration), to prove the season’s most precocious, staying three-year-old.

Tarzino is all the rage at about $2.50. He was the “video horse” (strong finisher) from the Vase at Moonee Valley a week ago. But with my bookie’s fedora firmly on, he seems a short price to me.

Because the Derby is the ultimate staying test for these immature horses – far more so than next week’s 3200-metre Melbourne Cup – form students look for those crying out for distance, like Tarzino. But I think this conventional wisdom is wrong in the Victoria Derby.
Twenty years ago my wife Gai Waterhouse had Nothin’ Leica Dane in the Derby. She told jockey Shane Dye: “Have him where he is comfortable.”

“Bugger that,” interjected her dad, Tommy Smith, “I own part of him. Make sure you are two in front at the corner.”
Nothin’ Leica Dane was running on empty as his tail waving in the air showed, but the favourite, champion Octagonal, just couldn’t get past him.

In the past 10 renewals, four winners have led at the home turn: 2013 Polanski, 2012 Fiveandahalfstar, 2011 Sangster, and 2010 Lion Tamer, all at long odds. In those 10 years, nothing has come from further back than Efficient’s (2006) 10th at 450m mark. On my speed map for tomorrow’s Derby, Tarzino is way back in 13th at the turn. I know the connections would like to have him closer, but he just doesn’t have the speed.

I like the shipper, the West Australian Kia Ora Koutou, which has a picket fence of wins beside his name.

The way Kia Ora Koutou has won has impressed me. Last start at Belmont over 2200m, he treated a field of older horses with contempt. His times and sectionals are great. My only fear is the Sandgropers might make the mistake of having him ridden back to be sure of getting the distance. Listen for the interviews with his connections. If he is ridden with courage, he’ll be in the winner’s enclosure saying: “Kia Ora Koutou”, which means, across the Tasman, “hello everybody”.

Cup’s fair game for Fame Game

Fame Game should win Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup. But the attention paid to the Japanese import’s sub-standard ride in the Caulfield Cup has ensured he is just 3-1 ($4). The whisper is that a client of a corporate had $500,000 on him at $4.20 last Monday.

To add insult to injury, the stewards have insisted the Japanese runner be ridden the same (poor, in my view) way next week. It doesn’t make sense to me.

The Melbourne Cup being a handicap, where the weights were declared back on September 15, the time-worn strategy of looking for the horse “that has improved since weights” is a good one. That gives us Our Ivanhowe, Trip To Paris and Gust Of Wind – all leaping forward and all from the strong Caulfield Cup. A Caulfield Cup runner should win. Fame Game will have too much class.

Gai has Wednesday’s impressive Bendigo Cup winner, The Offer, in the Cup hoping to emulate Warrior’s double in 1869. She is desperately hoping that one of her two Lexus runners, Excess Knowledge or Bohemian Lily, wins on Saturday, giving it an automatic start in the Cup. Ever-optimistic, Gai even asked: “If they dead-heated, would they both get in?”

The Sydney Morning Herald: October 30th 2015

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