...for the running of the 2007 Melbourne Cup this afternoon. It was won by an iron grey horse called Efficient, whose form of late has been uninspiring. In fact he hasn't won a race since winning the Victorian Derby this time last year. My fancied runner, Purple Moon, came second.
Half an hour before the race, I had an extraordinary intuition . I had been doing the daily cryptic crossword and idly glanced at the answers for an omen clue for the winner of the Cup. One of the answers was "iron horse". I quickly scanned the form to see if there were any grey horses running. Efficient was the only one so I hastily got online to my Internet betting account and placed a $5.00 each way bet on him.
He paid very good odds - $23.00+, so I'm very pleased I didn't ignore the flash of intuition. I had already had each way bets on Purple Moon and the third placed horse, Mahler so I actually backed the trifecta, alas, not as a trifecta. Still, I made a profit of over a $100.
The race as usual was exciting and seemed to be run at a rattling pace, the field stretched for lengths behind the leaders. Efficient came from the rear down the outside and pipped Purple Moon at the post. Post and pre race ceremonies were full of pomp and circumstance, which I found amusing.
Days before the cup I create a horoscope for the day and hour of the race to see if any planetary influences are prominent at that time. Once, I did successfully predict the winner by astrology, so I give it a go every year. Unfortunately my mind is always biased towards a particular horse, so I study the horoscope to see if it matches the characteristics of my favoured runner, which tends to muddy the interpretation. The horoscope showed an interesting Grand Trine (120 degrees separation) configuration between the Ascendant in Pisces conjuncting (0-3 degrees separation) Uranus with the Sun in Scorpio and Mars in Cancer. It pointed to a horse with watery connotations in its name. Uranus was the interesting planet being so close to the Ascendant as it signifies something unusual or quirky, and may indeed have pointed at a long shot winner. The postion of the Sun in the 9th House indicated a winner from abroad. Efficiency was bred in New Zealand, Purple Moon and Mahler are Irish.
Another, and more orthodox, method of picking a possible winner is to look at the horse's breeding. Efficient's sire is Zabeel who in turn was sired by Sir Tristram whose offspring won or were placed in several Melbourne Cups. Zabeel's sons and daughters have also been prominent, with at least two, now three, winning the race.
Normally on Cup day we go to a party, and a very fine party it is. This year the hosts are touring Europe so no chance of meeting up this year. Lucky I suppose, as otherwise I wouldn't have been able, or would have dismissed the chance, to get to a computer and place a bet on Efficient after my revelatory intuition.
I have always, being a dinky-di Aussie, listened to or watched the Melbourne Cup since I was youngster. Today I was reminded of my first attendance at the Melbourne Cup in 1970 when another grey horse, Baghdad Note won and I picked it as the winner simply because it had green silks. I haven't actually attended the race course since the early 70s. Too crowded for my liking these days.
In other racing news, and of interest to you Brits out there, Haradasun, a horse I have been following since his first start, is to be transferred to Ireland and trained for a season at Ascot in June 2008. I'll watch with interest myself how he does over there and hope he performs better than he has done this spring in Melbourne. He will be under the care of top Irish trainer Aiden O'Brien. Goodbye Haradasun and good luck.
So Jan, referring to your comment below, it really takes no special inside knowledge to pick a winner at the races. It helps, sometimes, but not always.