Steve accepts that this will come across as a bit ‘Irish’ but he wonders about racing’s total preoccupation with winning every single time
We happily abide it in most other arenas. Naturally we love our football team to be premiers and such an achievement is not tarnished, in any way, by the odd loss along the way.
Should Winx’s reputation be diminished at all if the wonderful daughter of Street Cry (Machiavellian) happens to be beaten, next time out, in the George Ryder Stakes (Gr 1, 1500m). Of course not but, in the eyes of the wider world, it will be. And it will, I suspect, even within racing circles.
Should Bryce Heys – aside from the not inconsiderable matter of prize money – have to endure more sleepless nights if Spieth (Thorn Park) is beaten a nose, for the third time running in a Group One at Flemington, in Saturday’s Newmarket Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m). In some sense, this is even more disturbing.
Surely, by pedigree and conformation assessment, he is either a stallion prospect or not; irrespective of whether he’s a Group One winner. His quality as a racehorse is already established. We do have ‘flavour of the month’ stallions such as I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) and Written Tycoon (Iglesia) who did not win at the highest level.
I remember well the hypothesis, written a couple of years ago in the UK, that a better racehorse was bred when ‘we left in the hands of the toffs’. It’s a valid enough view I suspect with the quest to breed a better animal the focus rather than commercial demands.
Thus, you would hope that our major stallions farms are making selections based on more than the publicity generated by a Group One win.
It was, indeed, the aforementioned Group One runner-up I Am Invincible who sired the colt who topped the Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, with Lot 259 selling for $1,400,000 to Ciaron Maher Bloodstock. He was, of course, bred by Rick Jamieson who presumably paid the relatively modest, advertised service of $27,500 (inc GST) when he sent his mare Soorena (Encosta De Lago) to the stallion in 2014.
Jamieson, I’d imagine is not in desperate need of the money courtesy of other business interests and nor does he have multimillions tied up in stallions, but he is entitled to some plaudits for his never ending quest to produce the better racehorse and he’s produced a few… whether you believe in his pedigree theories or not.
The ultimate irony might come Saturday should The Quarterback, the gelded son of Street Boss (Street Cry) and elder half brother to the sales topper, claim a second Newmarket Handicap win and deny the glamour colts Spieth, Extreme Choice (Not A Single Doubt) and Star Turn (Star Witness) – each of whom is already Group One performed.
The following Saturday, it will be a couple of other geldings – namely Chautauqua (Encosta De Lago) and Le Romain (Hard Spun) who will add some spice to the George Ryder. I’m delighted that two quality sprinter-milers will be there to offer (some sort of) challenge to Winx. They offer a new dimension given that she’s essentially beaten up on the middle distance and staying types at her two runs this time in.
I think it’s absolutely intriguing. Will she want further now? Will it be a touch too far for Chautauqua? Could Le Romain be just too tough if the conditions are exacting and they concede him too great a start? Might the dice be rolled and a nomination thrown in for the Australian Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) winner Hey Doc (Duporth)?
I’ll be genuinely excited to see this race and, I’ll tell you, there’s not much now that floats the boat of this grumpy old(er) man. Just as I was excited by the sensational race fought out by those two geldings last Saturday in the Canterbury Stakes (Gr 1, 1300m). It was simply a great race and great theatre. One horse had to lose, that is NOT WIN.
Like a great novel, it didn’t need to be analysed and deconstructed. It’s a horse race. It ain’t science. There are a myriad of factors which determine the outcome.
The George Ryder will be the first time, for a long time, you could argue that victory may not be fait accompli for Winx. I’d suspect she’ll simply win again but won’t think any the less of her if she doesn’t. Especially if she then goes to claim her ‘premiership’ – a first Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) on 8 April or a third Cox Plate (Gr 1, 2040m) later in the year.
Now, about those two Guineas’ run last Saturday. I’m fine with that – on the same day – but, while on the premiership theme, I’d like to see the grand final be the Rosehill Guineas (Gr 1, 2000m) but renamed the Australian Guineas, run a week later (25 March) and be boosted to $1,000,000. Just chop $400,000 off the Queen Elizabeth or the ATC Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2400m).
In fact, I can’t help but think all of Golden Slipper day should be switched to the 25th and become day one of a three day The Championships meeting. Good heavens, perhaps a seven race card exclusively of group races could be considered.
There are a couple of key races on the current 25th program but it is, in truth, a very flat spot between the Slipper and the two days at Randwick. Move The BMW (registered as the H E Tancred Stakes) (Gr 1, 2400m) to day one at Randwick – replacing the Chairman’s Handicap (Gr 2, 2600m) which goes back to 18 March. Move the Tulloch Stakes (Gr 2, 2000m) to the 18th and the Vinery Stud Stakes (registered as the Storm Queen Stakes) (Gr 1, 2000m) to the 25th, two weeks before the ATC Australian Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m).
Note: Flemington’s existing Australian Guineas becomes just that, The Flemington Guineas. Do you think we could possibly have that level of cooperation between the two states?
THE TV SAGA
OK, it’s not going to happen in the short term. Sydney gallops vision on Racing.Com and Melbourne races on Sky Thoroughbred Central. But who knows what might unfold not too far down the track.
I understand that the CrownBet sponsorship contract with Racing.Com expires at the end of this season. And, by that time, you’d imagine Racing Victoria will have its new board in place.
Might they be more disposed to having TABCorp take up the contract – putting some joint back into the joint venture? Might TABCorp be more disposed to such a deal given the angst between the two organisations after CrownBet secured a digital wagering partnership with ClubsNSW?
That just might open the door to a more sensible approach to the application of TV rights. Just maybe?