Derby Day – it’s a great card all right, but if I was really serious about redressing my carnival miscalculations I might just as well blow the entire kitty (now standing at $73) on Marching in the main event, so impressive was he in last week’s AAMI VASE.

But I won’t of course, because like our PM I don’t just want to win, but win often. I think I should make clear, however, that I’ll be handing over this gig some way into to next year’s carnival, though of course, it will be some time before I announce a date.

In the meantime, here’s my sorry spring so far.

  • Week 1: Turnbull States day. Bet $50, return $29.30
  • Week 2: Caulfield Guineas day. Bet $29, return $10
  • Week 3: Caulfield Cup Day. Bet $56, return $19 (consisting of $13 from Spectacular Saint and money back for the Cup trifecta after the scratching of Maldivian)
  • Week 4: Cox Plate Day. Bet $61, return $18

The selections below might look good on paper, but of course nothing will be achieved if the horses don’t arrive at the track on time. Assuming they do, have $5 a win on each of them, and in Race 4, throw in a $5 quinella on Serious Speed and horse 9, Diana’s Secret, while trifecta tragics should invest $6 on a box in the second race on Teskara, Blue Sky and Schilling.

TIPS:

RACE 1: (1) Exceedingly Good
RACE 2: (4) Teskara
RACE 3: (5) The Fuzz
RACE 4: (1) Serious Speed
RACE 5: (1) Weekend Hussler
RACE 6: (13) Princess Coup
RACE 7: (1) Marching
RACE 8: (1) Divine Madonna
RACE 9: (3) Stanzout
RACE 10: (1) Royal Ida

Meanwhile, Jeff Wall writes:

The normally risk adverse John Howard took a big risk when he decided to walk the Flemington racecourse circuit yesterday – or he simply confirmed that racing is not one of his sports.

The new Flemington track surface has been decidedly “dodgy” since it was reopened a couple of months ago… so the PM surely ran the risk of a headline – “PM Walks a Dodgy Track.” And his run of bad luck continued when he came across the great Bart Cummings – trainer for his nemesis Andrew Peacock – who unkindly asked what odds he was? If the polls are right, then the answer should have been “any old price”.

But back to the race day the purists regard as the greatest day on the Australian racing calendar. It will be almost as long and exhausting as the election campaign – ten races, all with group status, starting at 10.20am… or 9.20am in Queensland!

The time honoured VRC Derby looks like being a five way contest – the favourite, Marching, and Villain, Kibbutz, Littoria and Stockade are all serious chances. I favour the John Hawkes trained Marching, but the one query is the 2500 metre distance. Villain, a Flemington track specialist, looks the main danger. Away from the logical chances, the best “roughie” might be Best Beware who is currently at nice odds – around 25/1.

But the best race on the program is the L K S Mackinnon Stakes just before the Derby… a race which at times has been a good guide to the Melbourne Cup. Three of the best horses in the country – Haradasun, Miss Finland and Devil Moon – will line up, as will Pillar of Hercules… the horse which allegedly had an ownership link to the Mokbels. And Pillar of Hercules is not without a chance.

The VRC has made all four days of the Flemington Carnival “ticket only” events… and will get a crowd of around 120,000 tomorrow. And racegoers – and punters watching on television – should not miss Race Five, the Coolmore Stud Stakes. The odds on favourite for the race is Weekend Hussler who has his last four races in devastating fashion. He is a champion in the making.

Best roughie of the day? Stickpin number 9 in race 9… at around 25/1. A definite chance in the Salinger.

As I wrote on Monday, the one uncertainty about tomorrow, and Cup Week, is the state of the track. Since it was re-opened after being closed for 10 months while it was totally rebuilt the Flemington form has been decidedly suspect… and most experts have put it down to the new track needing time to “settle down”.

Good punting on racing’s best day – but tread warily… just as Bart Cummings advised the PM to do yesterday!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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