Caulfield Cup Day brings with it mixed emotions this year. One of our great races. About to be won by an international.
I’ve lost count of how many are running. Must be close to half the field. Some have their overseas trainers with them. Others have been adopted by our own.
The hot favourite, December Draw, was hand-picked out of Europe. Mark Kavanagh is listed as his trainer, but the horse is Australian as Scary Spice.
Anthony Freedman might win a Group One with Lucas Cranach. He’s from Germany. Try doing the form on his last four starts. You’ll need an interpreter.
The Poms are doing their best. At least Luca Cumani is a regular. Manighar and Drunken Sailor are genuine hopes.
John Moore wants to take the Cup back to Hong Kong. His topweight Mighty High has a bloke named Beadman on top.
There are others. Unusual Suspect comes from the U-S. There’s even a trainer here from North Yorkshire.
Nothing new, you say. The overseas raiders have been coming for years. Get used to it.
But this is different. They might be champions, these visitors. But only the hard-core punters know them.
Will there be passion in the cheering this afternoon? If you’re on the winner, of course there will be. But as an event? Not likely.
You can’t blame our top trainers for looking elsewhere to find a Cup hope. The industry has moved that way. It’s becoming harder and harder to develop a home-grown stayer.
The breeders know where the money is. Few want to wait for a horse to develop over ground. Two year old sprinters. Not six-year-old stayers.
You won’t hear the race clubs admit it, but distance races aren’t sexy anymore. Except that big one at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.
As owners, we used to dream of Derbys and Cups. Many still do. But it’s becoming harder and harder to place distance horses through the rest of the year.
It’s a vicious cycle. The fewer stayers coming through, the fewer races that get programmed for them.
So we get to the Spring. A famous Group One race worth two and a half million bucks. And it’s full of imports.
Not everyone thinks that’s a bad thing. Some high-profile players believe it adds to our reputation. Helps to build prizemoney and prestige, they reckon.
Maybe so. It’s just hard to cheer for a horse you hadn’t heard of a fortnight ago.
I still love seeing Bart winning our big races. Or Gai. The Hawkes boys. Moody and Waller and Heathcote. With local horses. And Aussie owners, booking out a Chinese restaurant to celebrate.
I can’t see it happening today. Although I’m willing to take on December Draw. Not for me when he’s never had a go at the distance.
I’ve told you before how I struggle to line up the international form. So my tip means even less than usual. But I do have a fancy.
Manighar is quality. I heard Luca give him some huge wraps a few months back. With that movie star Oliver up, and a track that won’t be too wet, I think he’s a big chance.
This may be influenced by the fact that I backed him at 40 to 1 at the start of the week. As much as it pains me, I’ll be cheering a Pom.
Have a good look at the field this afternoon. And get used to blokes here on passports taking more of our Cups. It won’t be too long before they’re the only ones running in them.