Marvellous atmosphere down south for Cup
IT IS the race that stops a nation, it is on today and the atmosphere in Melbourne is what all thoroughbred horse racing lovers live for.
The fashions are on display not only at the four big race meetings but before and after the meetings and in the casino, bars and restaurants across the city.
The excitement is evident on the trains on the commute to Flemington - the preferred transportation for in excess of half of the patrons.
And the best horses from across the world are here for the truly internationalised carnival.
The onlookers were five deep on the streets to view the parade yesterday morning and the horse racing fever across the city for Australia's biggest racing week of the year is clear to see.
In the Cup today, it appears to be one of the most difficult years to pick the winner in recent times due to the unknown factor of a number of runners, the extreme bias of the Flemington track shown on Saturday and Melbourne's fickle weather, which led to a soft track with that large bias.
Favourite for the race is the Japanese galloper Fame Game, who was very strong at the finish in his Caulfield Cup sixth placing.
However, he was asked to do nothing in that race until the straight, does not want it wet, and he has quite a bit of weight at 57kg.
Irish gallopers Bondi Beach and Kingfisher are strong stayers although their first starts in Australia are today.
Bondi Beach may not be matured enough as is only a three-year-old in the northern hemisphere and has raced just five times, whilst Kingfisher travelled poorly to Australia initially and can only go on firm tracks.
Max Dynamite is another Irish import is having his first Australian start today and is the opposite of Kingfisher, wanting a wet track.
Another import is The United States who has snuck into the field, drawn well, is well weighted with 52.5kg and comes off a track record breaking win in the Moonee Valley Cup.
English stayers in the race include: three-time second placegetter, the now 10-year-old Red Cadeaux, who drew well; Red Cadeaux's stablemate and Caulfield Cup runner up Trip to Paris gets in well at his favoured longer trip with 55kg though has drawn barrier 14; Snow Sky who raced in the Caulfield Cup though is top weight with 58 kilograms; as well as Big Orange and Sky Hunter, who are both yet to be seen racing in Australia.
Of the Australian contingent, Criterion despite a big weight, last year's Cup placegetter Who Shot TheBarman, and Preferment appear to have good hopes.
Despite an apparent Cox Plate failure, Preferment appears to be the best hope of these three as he has only 53.5kg, has drawn 11, has wet form, and has proven an ability to stay and win a Group 1 at Flemington with his Turnbull Stakes and VRC Derby wins, the latter of which he raced wide without cover for the trip and was still too strong at the end.
After discounting heavy weights and gallopers who have not yet raced in Australia, and taking barriers into account, Preferment would appear to be the best local hope, and if Trip to Paris replicates his classy Caulfield Cup run which you would expect over the longer trip after settling further in Australia he will be hard to beat.
Fame Game cannot be discounted and imported galloper The United States might pop up at odds with a low weight.
Big week hits numbers
IN THE midst of the Flemington carnival week and with racing all across South East Queensland today, the pressure on horse numbers resulted in a shortened six race card at Ipswich last Wednesday.
As is normal this time of the year cards are often reduced as multiple clubs clamber for a race meeting at their facility due to the higher patronage of horse racing right across the country for the race that stops a nation.
Whilst there were only six races last Wednesday, there were twelve individual licensees in the winner's stall as the winnings were shared around.
Half of the races were won by Eagle Farm trained gallopers with Thessaly trained by Lyn Tipper and ridden by Ryan Wiggins, Hidden Reign for Tony Gollan and Tegan Harrison, and Lofn for Kelly Schweida and Matt McGillivray.
There were two Toowoomba winners through Stormy Grey for Jim Hanna and apprentice Brooke Stower, and Rich Reward for Charlotte White and James Orman. The remaining winner was from the Sunshine Coast in James is Blonde who won the first race of the day for Garnett Taylor and Michael Cahill.
Ipswich gets Oaks Day
AFTER the running of the Melbourne Cup today at Flemington, the next Group 1 race of the carnival is on Thursday as the VRC Oaks are contested.
For the first time in many years Ipswich is the corresponding Queensland meeting to a Group 1 day before five straight Wednesday race meetings from next week taking us near to Christmas. The end of the Flemington Carnival is on Saturday when the final Victorian Group 1 races for the year are contested in the Darley Sprint and the Emirates Stakes.