Lee Freedman’s game of bluff is over. As we forecast last Tuesday, the
VRC has bowed to his demands and will irrigate Flemington to ensure Makybe Diva
gets her favoured yielding ground tomorrow.

On Melbourne radio this
morning, a cheeky Freedman tried to shift the blame for the kerfuffle he started
last week. “People upstate (ie: rival trainer Richard Freyer from Corowa, who
has rival Leica Falcon in tomorrow’s race) are getting hysterical about it,” he
said. “Terry Watson’s the best
racecourse manager in
Australia. He
has always prepared a fair racing surface, and that’ll be the case
tomorrow.”

Freedman also pointed out an odd lapse in faith shown by the racing elite in
his champion: “I find it very curious that we have a favourite in the Melbourne
Cup and no-one wants to tip her,” he mused.

He’s right. Check your form guides, and you’ll see virtually none of the
“experts” have selected Makybe Diva to win, despite her imposing record, and the
fact that rival trainers are complaining she’s been “pitched in” at the
weights.

It’s partly a racing tradition: punters are always looking for “value,”
looking past the obvious to see if they can back a winner at better
odds. And it’s partly a reflection of the fact that – despite the general hype
– racing journalists have struggled to comprehend this racemare’s greatness.
There has always, somehow, been a lingering doubt about just how good she really
is.

That’s largely because, oddly, of her first Melbourne Cup win, in which
her original trainer, David Hall, followed a traditional, tried-and-tested,
handicapper’s preparation in the lead-up to the 2003 race.

She was immediately typecast by racing writers as a good stayer. A better
class two mile plodder. Ignoring the fact that the days of dour, two-mile
plodders winning the Cup are long gone, now that the race is an international
quality handicap.

It was not until David Hall moved to Hong Kong the
next year and Freedman got the horse, that her new stable started to unlock her
true potential as a weight-for-age superstar.
The rest is history: she has scooped every one of the nation’s great
races over the past 18 months. Culminating in her awesome Cox Plate win – a mere
training gallop for tomorrow.

Tomorrow at 3pm, when The Diva
storms to her historic treble, a lot of racing “experts” will be wiping egg from
faces. Only bad luck can stop her; she is that superior on her home
track.

If she gets into trouble in the run, in my opinion there are only five
other possible winners; the bush star Leica Falcon, Eye Popper from Japan,
Caulfield Cup winner Railings, Irish legend Vinnie Roe and Danny O’Brien’s
outsider, Demerger.

Any other year, the rising country star Leica Falcon would be a good
thing tomorrow. Owned by an Albury
schoolteacher and her wharfie husband, he will run a mighty race. If he stays
sound, next year is his year. There will be no Diva to beat in 2006.

Good luck!