Not only was Derby Day a record-breaking one attendance-wise for the VRC, it made the challenge of picking the winner of tomorrow’s Melbourne Cup as intriguing as it is difficult.
In a lifetime watching horse racing, I have seen many, many good horses win the best races, but few win a Group One race as emphatically as Efficient won the VRC Derby.
It makes the Cup more intriguing because not since 1941 has a three-year-old won the nation’s premier turf event. But many good judges declare that Efficient can rewrite racing history and become the new champion of the Australian turf, but he might claim that mantle whatever happens tomorrow.
Owner Lloyd Williams had no hesitation in paying the $130,000 “late entry” fee for a horse that had its first start in a race at Ballarat on 27 August. He ran seventh that day, but has not been beaten since.
The task of picking the Cup winner is also made more difficult by the obvious – and worrying – track “bias” on Saturday and uncertainty about the form of the imported horses having their first start here tomorrow.
In that category, you have to consider the top-weight, Yeats, which has had one start over the 3200m for a win. And you have to think about Delta Blues, placed in the Japan Cup, and a winner over 3,600 metre, so the distance should be a breeze. Or the Japanese horse, Pop Rock, who put in a huge run in the Caulfield Cup.
And speaking of the Caulfield Cup, that brings me to the genuine “form” horse of the race, the Caulfield Cup winner, Tawqeet, who can also create history for his trainer, David Hayes.
No trainer has ever won the “big four” races in Australia in the one year – the Golden Slipper, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup. If Tawqeet wins, history will be created, and I think it will!
Punters should be aware this year’s Melbourne Cup is more confusing and uncertain than any in recent times. So if you like to pick on numbers, names, or colours, you probably have as much chance as the form students!
The Derby just confirmed how big and successful the Melbourne Cup Carnival has become for the Victoria Racing Club. The crowd of 128,000 smashed all attendance records for the Carnival, and the Cup, and Thursday’s Oaks, will surely each attract 100,000-plus patrons.