The weather on Caulfield Cup Day last year was intemperate – cold, wet and windy – and it appears that this year’s edition will also be run on a soft track under similar conditions.
Not that it matters to me as the Covid 19 pandemic has prevented public attendance at the races all spring. It’s remarkable that racing has continued all through the pandemic with very little drama in the way of biosecurity breaches.
Caulfield Guineas Day last week was fantastic, as interesting as you’d expect during the pointy end of the Spring Racing Carnival. The highly regarded short priced favourite Russian Camelot was defeated by Western Australian mare Arcadia Queen in the Caulfield Stakes, Black Caviar’s close relation Ole Kirk won the feature race, and in Sydney, star filly Montefilia beat the boys in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes.
As well as the Caulfield Cup tomorrow, Randwick features the fourth running of The Everest, where a choice field of top sprinters compete for a share in the $15 million prize money.
A full field of 18 runners will be contesting the Caulfield Cup, and as is the norm these days, comprise a bunch of International challengers along with seasoned imports and local stayers.
The top International is Anthony Van Dyck who has excellent form in Europe having performed meritoriously against top stayers, such as Stradivarious and Gaiyyath.
Of the imports, those with a good chance are Mirage Dancer, Finche and Master of Wine.
Isn’t it about time for a mare to win?
There are three of the fairer sex engaged in the race, most notably Verry Elleegant who has been in great form this spring. She won the Group 1 Winx Stakes, then came to Melbourne and took out the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at her last start, beating her stablemates Toffee Tongue and Finche.
Toffee Tongue won the South Australian Oaks in the autumn, and ran a close second to Verry Elleegant in the Turnbull Stakes. She’s a great lightweight chance in the Caulfield Cup and is bred to stay the distance. The other mare is True Self whom I witnessed winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Mackinnon Stakes Day last spring.
Verry Elleegant is the current favourite for the Caulfield Cup, and she could well win the bikkies, especially if the track is on the heavy side.
The Everest will be run an hour before the Caulfield Cup at 4.15 pm and has a super field that includes Nature Strip, Gytrash, Classique Legend, Behemoth and Bivouac as top chances, along with speedy mare Libertini who thrashed Classique Legend at her last start in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes. It’s a must watch race.
So that’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow; i.e. watching the races.
On the reading front I must mention a recent read, that being Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession. It’s a brilliantly written, immensely likeable novel about two middle aged guys who lead very low profile lives, introverts uncomfortable with the noisy world at large. I loved it and highly recommend it for a sublimely pleasant reading experience. It is laugh out loud in parts as well. It outshone the new Rose Tremain novel Islands of Mercy, and has made my current read, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, less than satisfying so far, the quality of writing not being a patch on Ronan Hession.
As for games, nothing much to report other than occasionally engaging with The Shade in The Longing. I’m running out of things to do with The Shade having explored all the caves and have even found the secret places beyond the darkness.
I’m pleased to see that my preview of the Caulfield Cup was pretty accurate with Verry Elleegant putting in a gutsy performance to win, beating the highly regarded International Anthony Van Dyck, who charged from the back of the field to miss by half a length. Long shot The Chosen One ran third. Interestingly, Zabeel is the grandsire of both Verry Elleegant and The Chosen One, so the old Zabeel factor still rules the staying ranks in Australian horse racing
Classique Legend won The Everest with Bivouac and Gytrash filling the minor placings.