In the welter of post-Melbourne Cup coverage, it is surprising that Bob Brown has not turned the result into an environmental issue.
One can only imagine how many trees, or perhaps forests, went into the production of the newspaper guides to the Cup right around the nation and beyond. The Cup was even the lead story in yesterday’s Port Moresby Post Courier.
And what a waste of good trees it turned out to be, not to mention the hundreds of hours the form experts put into going over the Cup field. And all to no avail!
By any measure the winner, Efficient, had the worst form of any horse in the field – his last six placings before yesterday were 9th, 11th, 4th, 10th, 5th and 4th! He had not won since the 2006 Victoria Derby, one year and four days before yesterday.
But we should all have taken more notice of the “tip” Efficient’s owner, Lloyd Williams, openly handed out last week. After his dismal runs in the Cox Plate and the Turnbull Stakes, Efficient was put over the hurdles by the owner ostensibly to get his mind back on the job.
It worked a treat and the one time Cup favourite swept down the outside of the field and nailed Purple Moon as the finish post loomed. The more fancied Williams owned contender, Zipping, finished a credible fourth – my tip, but they don’t pay on fourth place.
The worry about the result is not that most punters did their hard earned, but that European horses filled second (Purple Moon) and third (Mahler) places. It’s now odds on that the European horse raid on the 2008 Cup will be more intense than ever.
Lloyd Williams might be worth three quarters of a billion, give or take a few million, but it is hard to begrudge him yesterday’s success, his third Cup win and first in 22 years. He has poured tens of millions, possibly hundreds of millions, into racing over the last 30 or 40 years, and the stable alone employs more than 50 staff.
But behind the euphoria of Cup Day came more evidence of the enormous harm equine flu is doing to the racing industry. Turnover on the NSW TAB was down a massive 14% on last year, and even down by 6% in Victoria which has been largely unaffected by equine flu. In Queensland it was down by 10%.
Spirits will lift again tomorrow when the success story of the Spring Racing Carnival over the last decade – Oaks Day – is held at Flemington. Ladies Day not only attracts around 120,00 spectators – on a non holiday day – but favourites have a much better record than on Cup Day.