The Cox Plate on Saturday again proved to be a race for specialist thoroughbreds – with the winner El Segundo the best credentialed at weight for age, at the unique Moonee Valley track, and at the distance. Readers who followed my selection did very well – with the most genuine weight for age performer in the field paying around $7 a win… over the odds in my view.

The racing industry will be delighted with the crowd – up around 6,000 on last year – but, as the CEO of Tabcorp revealed yesterday equine flu is having a horrendous impact on TAB turnover, and that will cause pain for racing industry down the track.

And if the Moonee Valley form was consistent – as was the Caulfield form previously – we are really leaping into the unknown when it comes to the real highlights of the Spring Racing Carnival … four magnificent days of group one racing at Flemington including Tuesday week’s Melbourne Cup.

If the Victoria Racing Club, and Racing Victoria, want to avoid the Cup Carnival being something of a public relations nightmare, if not disaster, they will have to hope that the new Flemington track performs much better than it did on the two days it has been used for racing.

Flemington was shut down after last year’s Cup Carnival, the track was torn up and completely rebuilt. In time it will be the best track surface in the Australian racing industry – but the experts agree that it will take time, perhaps some time, to settle down and provide a consistent racing service.

On Turnbull Stakes Day a month ago, the results were not consistent with form, and there was obvious track bias. That is the last thing the racing industry, let alone punters, need.

This Saturday, Derby Day, is one of the great days in Australian racing. In terms of the overall quality of the program it is regarded by many as the best day of the Spring Carnival.

While there is every indication the Derby, and other major races, will draw high quality fields, the great unknown is going to be how the track will “play”. But more on Derby Day, and the state of the track later.

Meanwhile the embarrassment over Pillar of Hercules, allegedly secretly part owned by a member of the Mokbel family, continues to make headlines. The latest is that Racing Victoria stewards might seek a court order for the horse – which would have been one of the favourites – to be sold at public auction!

The racing industry will be desperately hoping the auction happens sooner rather than later.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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