Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Carnival Is Over - a review of the 2008 Spring Racing Season

This is a bit after the fact, but better late than never.

Remember back in July when I was so optimistic for my virtual Super Stable? It has been a spring racing season with many reversals and upsets, thus has been constantly interesting and unpredictable.

Last year’s season was of course marred by the EI (Equine Influenza) virus, which precluded horses from interstate competing in any of the major events in the Melbourne racing calendar.

This year was a completely different story with Sydney runners taking out quite a few of the Group races.

As for my super stable, well it didn’t do too well at all, despite all its early promise.

So how did they fare?

Weekend Hussler – His connections were perhaps too ambitious and overestimated his ability to take out the longer distance races. Early in the season he was narrowly beaten in the Liston Stakes by Light Fantastic, then won both the Memsie and the Underwood Stakes. He looked like he couldn’t be beaten, then unaccountably failed in the Turnbull Stakes , before proving that he couldn’t stay in the Caulfield Cup. There are some racing commentators who opine that he should have skipped the Caulfield Cup and run in the Cox Plate, which he may well have won, considering that he had twice thrashed the Cox Plate winner, Maldivian, in the aforementioned races.

Light Fantastic – great things were expected from this young gelding. He returned to Spring racing with an unbeaten record and the hearts of racing fans were beating in keen anticipation to him racing against the Hussler. He did win the first round, but disappointed from then on failing to perform up to expectation. It was subsequently discovered that he had stomach ulcers, so he was retired for the rest of the season.

Triple Honour – like Light Fantastic, he won his first race of the spring, then after being narrowly defeated by Gallant Tess in the Chelmsford Stakes, was found to be lame and also retired for the spring.

Augusta Proud – Another young horse of whom great things were expected, despite her failure in the Golden Slipper. She only managed to place once this spring, then was reported injured and retired for the rest of the season.

Dorabella – Managed to last out the season without injury. Managed to run a place a few times, but didn’t earn my stable much money.

Forensics – Very lightly raced throughout the spring, but proved her class by winning the Group One Empire Rose Stakes.

Sugar Babe – A similar story to many of the above, she performed really well early in the season, then was spelled for the rest of it with an injury.

Tuesday Joy – She was my substitute when Light Fantastic was spelled. I was lucky enough to see her run on Manikato Stakes day at Moonee Valley where she won. Shortly afterwards, she was banned from racing after bleeding during the Turnbull Stakes.

Time Thief - A very promising colt, lightly raced, who was runner up in the Caulfield Guineas to Whobegotyou. He’s one to look out for in the autumn.

Samantha Miss – one of the few consistent stars of the spring. It sure will be interesting following her career from now on. She appears to have the potential to be another Miss Finland or, dare I speculate, Sunline.

Princess Coup – Despite coming to Australia with two excellent New Zealand Group One wins under her belt, the Princess failed to be competitive this time in Australia – disappointing is the word that springs to mind.

Cup HorsesEfficient, Mad Rush & Septimus – no sooner had I added Efficient to my stable, than he was out with an injury. Mad Rush looked so promising for the two cups, but failed to gain a place in either. And as for Septimus, the less said the better.

By the end of the carnival my stable was a shambles and ended up 72nd out of 93. Oh well, better luck next year.

So that was the spring racing carnival for 2008.

Not to worry, the 2009 autumn carnival is only a few months away and there is a lot to look forward to, like the return of Weekend Hussler and also Light Fantastic in the shorter races. Also I’m keen to see if Whobegotyou lives up to his hype in the autumn. And no doubt more potential super star race horses may just be over the horizon. One I am curious about is Coubertin, the little half brother of Elvestroem and Haradasun, who may be debuting shortly.

There is a bit of action at Ascot in Western Australia over the next few weekends, where Apache Cat will be out to redeem himself after his shock loss on Emirates Stakes day, in a clash with globe trotting super sprinter Takeover Target so the carnival sort of continues in the west for a short time.

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