My horse lost today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.
Having just published my first book – the rather literally named but compellingly written, ‘Winners of the Melbourne Cup’ – to widespread fanfare and rave reviews, I have eagerly accepted the challenge from my publisher Red Dog Books to put my money where my highly articulate mouth is, and try to tip a few winners for the spring carnival (‘try’, obviously being the operative word, given my apparent inability to get arrested in the betting-ring this year).
Indeed, you begin to lose track of the also-rans after a while, eventually succumbing to the endless and all-powerful stream of ‘next-start’ nags that constitutes the absurd attraction of life on the punt. Like Camus’ unfussed anti-hero Meursault, the ‘Michael Douglas in The Game’-style conspiracy that is the sport of horseracing has taught me to calmly accept many of the cruel realities of life (though I must confess that hearing Miss Badoura confidently declared the winner of the last on Cox Plate day - only to be informed that her deliciously day-saving dividend of $19.20 had been halved to $9.60 as the result of a dead-heat – proved to be a fairly rigorous interrogation of my commitment to the blissful detachment of existentialist indifference). But, still, a win’s a win just the same (even if it was as hollow as a Carlton pre-season premiership), and it is at least with some money in my pocket that I cast my eye to the upcoming week at glorious Flemington and offer my early musings.
All Melbourne Cup talk is centred around the annually touted international raiders, and for a refreshing change, it appears that this year the hype is entirely justified. Apparently this Septimus individual is in fact part horse part Bugatti Veyron 16.4, and is by all reports more a of a sure thing in a test of stamina than another well-known black-maned Irish stallion, Colin “I understood that tape as being strictly private and confidential” Farrell. Something about Septimus worries me, however. Perhaps it’s the fact that he only won the Irish St Leger by 13 lengths: surely that form isn’t good enough for our famous handicap. Or that back in Britain, Caulfield Cup winner All The Good apparently isn’t even allowed to drink of the same trough, eat of the same oat, or so much as cast a casual glance in the mighty Septimus’ direction – let alone run in the same class of races. Simply, Septimus appears too good to be true, and I’m willing to look elsewhere (please remember these prophetic words when he makes a mess of them at the furlong and goes on to win eased-down by five lengths under a stranglehold from Johnny Murtagh).
The Lovely Francesca’s horse Bauer must also be considered a live chance after his gutsy win at Geelong, whilst stable-mate Mad Rush ($6.50) is for mine the pick of the marauders at this early juncture, having been “Get me my black-book, red pen and all defenceless younger family member’s piggy banks”-impressed by his slashing fourth in the Caulfield Cup. D. Oliver has stuck with the mount on Mad Rush in preference to Bauer, and after desperately close seconds in the last two years on Pop Rock and Purple Moon, I believe Ollie is right on track to claim his third Melbourne Cup.
As for the Derby on Saturday, the current $1.60 being offered about Whobegotyou does not appear to be the answer to the escalating financial crisis, and as such we shall be looking elsewhere for our salvation. The visiting Kiwi stayer My Scotsgrey put in a bottler in the Geelong Classic and at $14.00, might just be a blow-out chance. Similarly, although his run in the Vase was only fair, Carnero has struck me as a good Derby-type all spring, and I’ll be having a bit on him at the $18.00.
Finally, in order to build a bank for Derby Day, I would encourage my ‘tenter-hooked’ and undoubtedly widespread readership to have something on Queen of Queens at the current fixed odds price of $6.50 in Wednesday’s Werribee Cup. The more adventurous should also consider taking Mick Price’s mare in quinellas with Saddler’s Story, who looks over the odds at $18.00.
WERRIBEE RACE 8 – QUEEN OF QUEENS
PS. And remember, when in doubt, always back the top-weight.
PPS. I just remembered that the top-weight in the Cup is Septimus. Damn.