We are into the last week of the 2018 racing season, with meetings at Caulfield, Rosehill and Morphettville set to close the curtain on what has been a turbulent year for the industry.
None of those meetings will have an impact on this report in regards to staying races, where (as stated in last week’s report) all the action continues over in the UK and Europe.
What’s happening overseas?
A horse who came down under last year but failed to get going was the British galloper Withhold.
Coming to Australia with a reputation, he raced in the Group 3 Geelong Cup, only to be found bleeding after the race, which put an immediate end to his chances.
He has returned to the racetrack, winning at Newbury on the weekend (Marsh Cup, 3300m).
This was his first race since Geelong, the win elevating him to favourite for the Ebor Handicap at York in a few weeks time.
Trainer Roger Charlton has a number of options, including the Ebor (just mentioned), plus the Goodwood Cup where he’ll probably line up against Stradivarius, and possibly also another shot at the Melbourne Cup, though his bleeding incident from last year makes that a bit of a risk given the long trip and expense.
— Newbury Racecourse (@NewburyRacing) July 20, 2019
What’s happening locally?
Two horses of note raced and won on the weekend, Azuro (who we mentioned in an eariler report) won the listed Queensland Cup over 3200m.
The OTI owned stayer trained by the Maher/Eustace team is in good form, and forms part of a major group assault on the Spring season with other Maher/Eustace stable stars.
— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) July 20, 2019
Meanwhile, Lord Belvedere, who is another Maher/Eustace prodigy, is a promising import from the UK who won the Harry White Handicap (2500m) at Flemington, carrying the same colours as former top stayer Libran who died a few weeks on the Gold Coast in a training gallop.
— Racing.com (@Racing) July 20, 2019
Both look like they have potential, but Group 1 staying races is a fairly lofty target, so they may not get there that quickly.
My guess is that Ciaron Maher will aim Azuro for the Metropolitan Handicap in an attempt to qualify him, or go to the Bart Cummings Handicap.
Connections of Lord Belvedere are going to have a shy at the stumps anyway, and will aim to line him up in the Bart Cummings Handicap on Turnbull Stakes Day, in an attempt to directly qualify him for the Melbourne Cup.
Colic and Bleeding
In light of the recent passing of star English filly Sea Of Class who succumbed to colic on the weekend, it brings to mind several instances in Melbourne Cup history where colic and internal bleeding has had an impact on winners.
One of these horses was the great Phar Lap who died of colic while overseas in the USA during 1932.
Though colic is related to intestinal disorder, there has been a persistent rumour in the racing industry going back decades that Big Red’s demise was due to an overuse of arsenic as a raceday treatment.
Back then, they didn’t have the same sort of controls as we do now, even so, modern day trainers will try it on, if they think they can get away with it.
Another was the post World War I colt Artilleryman, who won the 1919 Melbourne Cup as a three-year-old. His name gets mentioned because this year will be the 100th anniversary of his victory.
Artilleryman was an exceptional three-year-old for his era, in winning the cup by 6 lengths ridden by the great Bobby Lewis, carrying 47kgs, and running a then race record.
He died the following year of internal bleeding.
I’m sure there are other instances where horses have died due to internal problems, and not the typical break downs via leg injuries.
Is it the mares year?
We’ve had some great mares participate in the Melbourne Cup over the years.
Some winning it, some not. Let’s throw some names into the ring.
Makybe Diva, Ethereal, Let’s Elope, Empire Rose, Leilani (2nd), Light Fingers, Rivette and Wakeful (2nd).
Not forgetting 21 years ago in 1998, there was a titanic struggle up the Flemington straight where two New Zealand mares went at it hammer and tongs right to the finish line.
Who can forget that marvellous contest between Jezabeel and Champagne, a see saw contest which saw Jezabeel get headed only to get up again to prevail by the nearest of margins.
Both mares were bred to stay, Jezabeel (by Zabeel) having won the 1998 Auckland Cup (Group 1, 3200m) earlier in the year, while the Laurie Laxon trained Champagne had won the LKS McKinnon Stakes (2000m, Group 1) on VRC Derby Day the weekend previous.
Which brings me to the forthcoming 2019 edition of the Melbourne Cup where two more Kiwi mares Glory Days and Rondinella are sure to feature in the nominations.
Glory Days has already qualified for the Melbourne Cup after winning the Auckland Cup (3200m, Group 1) earlier this year, plus placing third in the Sydney Cup (3200m, Group 1).
Rondinella may have a little bit of work to do make the field, but ran third in the Tancred Stakes behind Avilius and fourth in the Sydney Cup, just in behind Glory Days (third).
Both mares are adept in heavy going, and can cope equally well on top of the ground too.
Can these two recreate the one-two barnstorming finish of their predecessors 21 years before?
My head says no, but being a racing romanticist at heart, it would be a boon for the local industry down under if both are able to feature, in lieu of all the imports and raiders.
That’s all for this weeks Melbourne Cup Watch Report. Keep checking in with Kruzey.com.au for more, as we count down to the first Tuesday in November 2019