No Black Caviar. No movie stars. And empty pockets. Sandown, you need to woo me.

November 12, 2011

Saturday at Sandown after the Flemington Spring carnival is a bit like visiting your second favourite pub.

You know they do things better down the road, but you’re still happy enough to drop in for a pie and a pint.

It’s the same scenario for State of Origin players, heading back to club footy after a Suncorp Stadium triumph. You have to do it. But it’s not quite the same.

I run into similar problems after Stradbroke Day in Brisbane. Just seven days later, we’re in the massive crowd for Ipswich Cup day. Trying to work out which weekend the favourite was actually set for.

I’ve never been to Sandown. I’m sure it’s pleasant, and that they put on a fine show, like every other big race day in the southern capital.

It should be said, however, that my instinct at this time of year is to spell myself, to recover from the flogging I endured over Cup week.

For the purposes of research only, and in the interest of you, dear reader, I shall ignore that instinct, and saddle up again.

So how do we find a winner, with only the sounds of coins jangling in our pockets? Good question.

In most races, we have to decide whether they were unlucky over the carnival, or just not good enough.

Would they rather be picking buffalo turf in the paddock, reminiscing about chasing a Group One rump, instead of trying for a Group 2 or 3 consolation?

The Sandown Classic provides an annual headache, for those of us still trying to work out how we did so badly in the Melbourne Cup.

Usually, we see a stack of horses backing up from the great race, and every year I forget how the form will stack up.

Stayers who’ve been trained to the minute for the great two-mile race, dropping back in distance at the tricky Sandown track.

No such problems this year. Only five runners will face the starter. How does that happen? Hardly makes for a memorable day.

And that’s a shame. For the first time, the race will be known as the Zipping Classic. Yes, another name change. That great old horse deserved better.

Americain will win easily, at no price. Connections must be giggling. Easy pickings for them, but not much fun for the punter.

I hate to be negative, but the rest of the card is hardly inspiring either. We’ll do our best to find a winner, as always. And it’s still better than fixing the bathroom tiles.

The problem, you see, is that we’ve been spoiled. It’s hard to move on, after the greatest week of racing on the planet. But accept it we must. Remember, there’s only one Cup week.

Yes, it would be nice if we were still at Flemington. No use complaining I suppose. After all, the beer is still cold at your second favourite pub.