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Steve argues the industry shouldn’t shrug its collective shoulders and simply allow the changes to the penalty conditions for the Melbourne Cup to proceed.


Steve Moran | 27.09.2017

The issue might not have gone away, just yet. It’s my understanding that the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) and its chair Amanda Elliott remain unhappy with the decision but have opted to pursue ‘diplomatic channels’ rather than have the debate play out in the media.

As it stands, it gets curiouser and curiouser. Goodness me, never thought I’d be cheering heartily for a Lloyd Williams-owned horse. But I will be, in this year’s Caulfield Cup (Gr 1, 2400m), should the owner opt to run Almandin (Monsun).

If Almandin were to win the Caulfield Cup he CANNOT, rather than may not, be penalised for the Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) (which, of course, he won last year) and that would make a mockery of the proposed changes.

That change, just to refresh you, is that: “It has been determined that the winner of the Caulfield Cup will not be re-handicapped in the Melbourne Cup if they have already been allocated 56 kilograms or more for the Flemington feature.

“Furthermore, should the winner of the Caulfield Cup be weighted at less than 56 kilograms in the Melbourne Cup, the quantum of any penalty issued will not take the weight of the horse higher than 56 kilograms on the first Tuesday in November.”

I appreciate that maybe you’re tired of me banging on about this, but it’s just not right.

Bookmaker and keen racing observer Rob Waterhouse had a memorandum on the matter published on Racing.com. He described the decision as ‘wrong thinking’.

He added that ‘It should be said at the outset, this change seeks to solve a problem that does not exist.’ That perceived problem was a loss of connection between our two great handicap races – the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup.

There’s no evidence to support this. In the past 40 years, just shy of 50 per cent of Melbourne Cup winners have contested the Caulfield Cup. Since 1991, 11 Melbourne Cup winners have come through the Caulfield race – which is four more than any other race which a Melbourne Cup winner has contested in his final two lead-ups. Next best is the Turnbull Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) (seven) and then the Cox Plate (Gr 1, 2040m) (six).

BON HOFFA BOOST

It was quite the weekend for Bowness Stud and one which may just be a late turning point in the career of their stallion Bon Hoffa (Belong To Me) who, on the track, was prepared by Wendy Kelly to win the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) in 2007.

The stallion, of course, had a two state double last Saturday with Bons Away and Don’t Give A Damn who were arguably the two most promising horses to win at Caulfield and Rosehill on the weekend. It would not shock if one or both progressed to the highest level.

That opportunity might even come as early as this Sunday with the still Ciaron Maher-trained Bons Away nominated for the Rupert Clarke – the race not only won by his sire but also by his best performed son Bon Aurum (also prepared by Maher).

Bons Away dented The Everest (1200m) aspirations of Brave Smash (Tosen Phantom) when he won the Testa Rossa Stakes (Listed, 1200m) and became Bon Hoffa’s third stakes winner following Bon Aurum and Deiheros.

However, he has been a prolific producer of winners as Kelly’s husband Kevin notes: “We’ve had 14 individual winners of 51 races by Bon Hoffa and he’s been so reliable. They’re generally lovely, big horses and if you give them the time they’ll come to you.

Bons Away is the third winner out of the Mossman (Success Express) mare Villa Albani, who was bought for just $2,000 at the 2012 Inglis Great Southern Bloodstock Sale. Villa Albani has a two-year-old Street Boss (Street Cry) filly named Street Icon and a yearling filly by Bon Hoffa.

Bowness Stud had, of course, even greater reason to celebrate on the weekend when Trapeze Artist (Snitzel)  – who was born, reared and raised on the farm – scored a stunning win the Golden Rose (Gr 1, 1400m). He was bred and is raced by long-term Bowness client Bert Vieira and his family.

THE FREEDMANS

What price four brothers each training a winner in four different major racing jurisdictions in one month?

Long odds, you’d think, but that is the September case after Michael Freedman got off the mark – with a double – at Sha Tin in Hong Kong last Sunday. Elder brother Lee had, earlier in the month, scored his breakthrough win in Singapore.

Meanwhile Anthony had five winners for the month in Victoria and Richard’s victory with Auvray (Le Havre) in the Colin Stephen (Gr 3, 2400m) at Rosehill was his second for the month and his seventh winner from his past 14 runners.

None of this should shock anybody. After all, Lee Freedman – working originally with his three brothers – racked up Group One winners quicker than any trainer in history, eclipsing some legendary figures who preceded him, and had an impact every bit as remarkable as that of Chris Waller and Darren Weir.

Paris Lane’s (Persian Heights) Caulfield Cup win in 1994 was the Freedmans’ 50th Group One winner and came within nine years of their first – the 1986 Australasian Oaks (Gr 1, 2000m) with Miss Clipper (Alert).

On my research, and based on the current grading of group one races, Freedman’s first 50 was achieved much quicker than Tommy Smith, Bart Cummings or Colin Hayes.

In the same span from their maiden group one wins, Smith and Cummings had fewer than 20 group ones and Hayes fewer than 10.


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