I thoroughly enjoyed Caulfield Cup day, this despite the punters shooting straight for the majority of the meeting and finishing well in front of us bookies.
While I am normally very complimentary to the Caulfield track boss, Jason Kerr, but I was indeed perplexed why, for their premiere meeting, it was both irrigated (almost an inch) and the Verti-Drained Caulfield. Madness to me.
The Verti-Drain (a big machine that puts spokes into the turf to aerate it) is a great idea for three months later, but not the day before their showcase event. I have no doubt, the irrigation in conjunction with the Verti-Drain led to times for the day reflecting what I have classed as a heavy track.
I know readers might laugh at my track rating (for accuracy I marked the sprints a slow7, the balance a heavy 8) but apart from the irrigation, the Verti-drain, there was a 20k-head wind in the straight and 5 mils rain on the day.
The horses that were known handle heavy going tightened noticeably in betting all day; while those that were suspect on the going eased. Heavy in my book.
I note Mick Goodie (formerly track manager of Flemington) said today: “Having been there and done it, I feel for Jason Kerr. The worst thing I ever did was to water against everything I normally do and had a disastrous carnival in 2015. To prepare tracks with a lot of give is a ‘disaster waiting to happen. Tracks will deteriorate.” I hope the Caulfield Committee read his wise words.
As for the Verti-drain, ask any golfer what they think. They say the greens are dreadful for three months (but great after that).
Thank you to everyone who emailed after Ranier’s win Saturday thanking me for pointing the poor ride two weeks before. The ride on that day was inexplicable, however on Saturday, with a much better ride, Ranier won nicely after being heavily backed. It is quite a good system to back horses that were terribly ridden last start.
I thought Homesman should won the Caulfield for Lloyd and Nick Williams. The rider seemed to fumble in the shadows of the post. That’s racing.
Punters like backing horses that are going to be up on the pace. Connections, on the other hand, seemingly prefer their horses ridden back in the field. When it was announced over the on-course address system that the non-winner Tom Melbourne was going to be ridden back, I immediately gave the horse a “six-turn” wind out. This particular stable, when their horses draw wide, like to go back. I felt Tom Melbourne was the horse to beat in this race, despite his record, had he been ridden up on the speed. But he went back and finished 4th. The way the track way playing, I feel he would have won had he taken up a position nearer the pace.
I was tricked by the photo finish in the Coongy Cup. Unfortunately for me, it seemed to my eye that the even money favourite had saluted. Obviously, the result is determined by the position of the horse’s heads. A horse’s head moves in an arc motion, and whatever horse has its head at the pinnacle of its arch when they hit the line generally wins. The artificial white line that is drawn for the benefit of AV was drawn, on Saturday, just after the post, and on this view Best Of Days won. On the inside running rail, there is a yellow square painted, and this is where the actually race ends (before the artificial white line). Realising that, they can’t be split. I suspect the graphics person responsible for the photo finish is mistaken where the finishing line is!
It was the right call for the protest in the Coongy Cup to be dismissed. However, intellectually, it is hard to imagine that one horse is not at fault, even by the thickness of a cigarette paper. One horse must have been at fault at some stage the intellectual minds leads one to believe. However, I was more than happy with the protest dismissed verdict on Saturday. And it was right.
The good wife briefly flaunted with running Saturday’s dominant winner Thinkin’ Big in the upcoming Cox Plate. Three-year-olds have a good record in the Cox Plate, but those who are not on pace horses. Those 3yos that sit back in the field as a rule and can grind their way to victory. I did the figures last night, and I can’t remember a three-year-old Cox Plate winner over the last 30 years that I expected to settle in the first ¼ of the field. Thinkin’ Big would definitely be setting the pace, and as such, I think the right rein has been pulled in saving him for the Derby.